The 3 Bays Portland Running Festival is in its 36th year and I did wonder post event, what the hell have I been doing for all those years, why was this the first time I had participated in this event? However, it was only the 2nd year for the 60km ultra and already moving in a positive direction with participants doubling in numbers from the inaugural year.
2019 has been a fractured year for running, the flow has been stagnant and despite the mind being willing, the body has resisted almost every return to the trails. Until this race, this race I ran happy.
What it means to run happy
It’s not often I truly understand or even feel this sentiment, it’s a tough ask when you are racing an event as opposed to running it.
The Portland Ultra was a ‘training’ run, I was under strict instruction from my coach not to race so with this, I lined up at the start line the most relaxed I have felt for a long time. 3 weeks out from Alpine Challenge 100km I was to curb my enthusiasm unleashing it in the high country not on the surf coast. What a difference this made.
I know what I am capable of and every race/run I participate in I always learn something new about myself however this race, I learnt how to be happy. Really happy. I am not sure if it was the pace or the scenery but the nature changed me allowing me to experience something profound and it was this feeling that transported me to a new level. I had no expectations for the race nor my body, I was running with a relaxed mind set, I wasn’t chasing a time instead, as I found out, I was chasing happiness.
Have you ever wondered what it is like to run on the sea ocean bed? Or even Mars? At times underfoot the terrain was aggressive, sharp and ragged which if unconditioned your feet are going to be a little shredded especially if you are wearing a low-profile shoe.
On paper this is a very runnable course with 1300m of elevation however in reality, it’s a ruptured kind of course; with timber steps that interrupt your stride not to mention when wet (as it often is in Portland) fill you with fear of going arse up. I was thankful that the winds were low because you are literally running on the edge of the world; passing the highest coastal cliff in Victoria – yeah, it’s as amazing as it sounds but high winds may mean you could get blown right off the edge (actually I don’t think that could happen) but it’s a possibility!!!
Once you find your (fractured) flow you soon become one with the single trails that snake around the coastal line weaving you past the wind turbines, luscious green fields and ferns and through the magical place that is the enchanted forest…they say strange dangers lurk in an enchanted forest but I am sure I saw the forest come to life with magic and trail fairies with no strangers in sight.
Mandatory gear is well, mandatory. You are required to carry for the 60km ultra:
Waterproof & hooded, seam sealed jacket | Mobile phone | Capacity to carry 1L of water | Emergency space blanket | Whistle | 2 x compression bandages
I would also suggest carrying/wearing:
Sunglasses | Cap/Visor/Truckers cap | Buff | Gloves | Gators | Skin guards | Sunscreen and umbrella (although don’t put it up when running alongside the cliffs!!!)
After spending two days in Portland, I soon came to realise the weather changes every 20 minutes from spring, summer, autumn, winter which includes crazy torrential sideways rain that makes you feel like you are running in pea soup, it just that thick.
Last year the runners experienced snow like sand for the 4.8km sand section just as you past the Trewalla Camp however someone was watching over us this year and the sand although soft was absolutely runnable making this section quite pleasant especially as your mind is taken up looking at the fishing and cargo litter that scatters the coast line. It just makes you realise how wild the seas really are in this neck of the woods.
Victoria’s best kept secret
As a trail runner I sometimes like to keep new found trails to myself; the charm of trail running is the fact you can lose yourself amongst nature with very few interruptions especially of the human kind. However, this race, I’m willing to shout from the roof tops as it almost seems like an institution and one I don’t want to see fade away.
The local are just so dam passionate about running Portland and for that weekend, I was an “Honorary Portlandian” so as the town’s new representative (unofficial), I want to see this running festival thrive in particular the 60km which as an added twist can be backed up on the Sunday with the marathon for only a tenner….it’s called the Hybrid Fool.
The Portand runners have a good sense of humour and think you are a little crazy for lining up for the Ultra but should you walk unassisted into a bar post event, a local will sure shout you to a beer to help celebrate your success. Geez if you ran the marathon the next day they might even shout you to a counter meal they are that friendly.
This race has a special kind of charm and one that needs to be experienced first-hand. I am not sure if I am still running off adrenaline or happiness but whatever it is, this ultra-left quite the mark on this Planted Runner.
Some races stay with you long after you cross the finish line and it may be that as I am still drying out my shoes from the deluge of rain experienced over that weekend I am already planning training weekends to soak up those special single trails and explore more of what Portland has to offer.
Top 10 + 1 reasons to run the 3 Bays Running Festival Ultra
- Grass roots event with local charm
- Free bus from the town centre to the start line
- $100 or less entry fee
- No toilet lines
- Aid stations stocked with fruit, lollies, electrolytes, coke, water
- Amazing local volunteers
- Well-marked course
- 50+km or more single trail with ocean views
- Less than 7km of (semi) hard sand running
- Interchangeable weather conditions (it’s not all bad)
- Chance to run amongst giants (wind turbines & growling seas)
Secure your place in 2020
The date for 2020 have already been released and for me, it’s already marked in the calendar and accommodation booked. To find out more about this visually stimulating course visit the 3 Bays Portland Running Festival website.