Almanac Silly Buggers: Hail the brave half-marathoners of the Great Ocean Road

Great Ocean Road Half Marathon

by J Dunne


I’m not sure whether it was the sheer curiosity of seeing if my late 50-something body could do it, or the thought of strolling down a car free Great Ocean Road enjoying  the stunning scenery on hand.

But something enticed me to take part in last Sunday’s Great Ocean Road Half Marathon.

I found a willing partner in C.  Allan who prides himself as more of a stayer than sprinter so we set off from Ocean Grove at 4am (to beat the road closure) en route to Kennett River where our 23km sojourn  to Apollo Bay commenced.

C.  Allan noted our demographic was poorly represented as we observed the thousands of lycra skinned men and women half our age stretching and adjusting their fit bits in preparation for PBs on a sunny autumnal morning in the heart of the south west coast of Victoria.

I must confess a Christmas present from the bride, a pair of TXU skins, were unpacked for their initial  outing under my Adidas parachute material track suit pants.

There was no easing into the half marathon as the starter sent the field on its way at the foot of the two kilometre steep incline of Point Hawdon.

“Good to get this out of the way early,” was the optimistic offering from a puffing C Allan as we neared the summit.

Scenic Lookout signposts became our friends for as C Allan so rightly suggested.

“A Scenic Lookout means we are at the top of the hill,” he said.

Our preferred race plan was to walk up the hills and jog down them with a long term aim of breaking  four hours over the 23 kilometre course.

Adrenalin is a marvellous state of mind.

Good-natured banter with other like-minded entrants along with the ability to glance left towards the rolling waves of the Bass Strait against the background a cloudless blue sky allowed the first 10 or 12 kms to slip by virtually unnoticed.

Also,  we set ourselves small goals along the way to enhance that sense of achievement, such as making a mental note to reel in the husband and wife team with pram ahead well before the finish line.

Courtesy of a dirty nappy change, we received an unexpected boost when we duly put  the Team Pram  behind us within  first couple of kilometres.

With an extra spring in our step, we continued our search for the first glimpse of the township of Apollo Bay.

As we put Petticoat Creek in the rear vision mirror I innocently remarked to C. Allan the vagaries of Mother Nature that up ahead the clear blue sky was a back drop to one of the brighter rainbows I have seen in recent times.

For some reason I had always thought rainbows went hand in hand with rain.

I was right.

As we rounded the cliff face that houses the Skenes Creek Bed & Breakfast we entered another country,  where grey replaced the blue and the accompanying precipitation was more than helped  on its sideways slant  by a chilling southerly.

We put our heads down to shield our faces from the blinding rain,  but shield as we may,  out the corner of our watery eyes we couldn’t help but notice Team Pram sail by as if our sodden Adidas were nailed  to the puddle filled bitumen road.

“They must be wet trackers.” It was all C. Allan could offer.

It was then I realised that I am very much a fair weather half marathoner.

The fun of the previous couple of hours had dissipated as the event ‘had turned into a bloody slog’ in C. Allan’s words.

I found it funny that although the temperature was now in single figures my feet were calling for Total Fire ban restrictions to be placed on Apollo Bay and surrounding areas.

They were burning.

After three hours and 20 minutes of putting one foot continuously after the other we entered the main street of Apollo Bay.

The locals are a community-minded lot.

They were six deep behind the steel barricades cheering and high fiving us as we shuffled in Cliff Young fashion  towards the finish line.

Steve Moneghetti had crossed the line two hours ahead of us but it seemed  those who lined the street deemed the efforts of a couple of blokes better placed at the bar no less admirable.

After a couple of beers at the Forrest Hotel on the way home we suddenly realised our new found status as half marathoners called for a more appropriate recovery program.

So C. Allan and I donned the speedos and braved the chilly Barwon River at mouth of the ocean at the Heads.

In the distance we noticed the only two other people in the river were the brothers Selwood – Joel and Scott.

We waved and Selwoods waved back – as if in acknowledgement that we had earned every right to share the recovery waters with them.

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  1. Magnificent effort J. Dunne. Anyone who can run further than 100m has my immediate respect.

    I’ve never fully understood the idea of a “scenic run”. My experience of long runs is that the head spends most of its time titled towards the ground in the vain hope that the journey will go faster if you avoid gazing at the horizon.

  2. Keiran Croker says

    Well done gents. Great time. I would have allowed 4 plus hours for walking and shuffling Cliffy style.
    If you are silly enough to do it again next year let me know …. I’ll meet you at the Forrest Pub.
    I can recommend the 50km upstream walk from Docklands up the Yarra and Mullum Ck to Doncaster. I did it a few years back so can legitimately say I’ve done a marathon, plus some……. Even if it took me 10hrs!

  3. Have never written a half marathon before. But my advice is (in all stories really) to get the Selwood Bros. in earlier, even if it means telling lies. (Their Mum was running and they’d come out to cheer, so they cheered you as you shuffled past. “Go you hasbeen bodgies. Show the world what can be done with varicose veins and fallen arches.” Something like that.)
    I was running the MtoS at Lorne when the full marathon pack ran past. I said to one bystander, “I wonder what the average IQ of a marathon field is.” She replied, “My husband’s in there.”

  4. Great work, J Dunne.

    The G O R marathon is a huge day for the town of Apollo Bay,
    possibly its biggest for the year.

  5. Mick Jeffrey says

    Might tackle this one day, possibly 2018 as I have other ambitions in 2017. Would love to see you guys back up for Melbourne in October, I’ll be starting number 4 (but Gold Coast is next on the agenda).

  6. Chris Allan says

    Good representation J Dunne. Fair to say, ‘we needed the run’
    We actually saw the ‘Mrs Selwood’ signs as we entered Skenes Creek .

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