The 10th edition of the Surf Coast Century came to life at the weekend as 800 competitors took to the course.
Dreams became a reality for solo ultra trail runners who tackled the 100-kilometre and 50km courses, while relay teams also took on the 100km course.
In the 100km premier race, Anna McKenna stormed home to become the first female in the event’s history to be crowned the overall winner, well ahead of the men’s field, in 9:04:13 – just 60 seconds off the previous female course record.
“This is my first 100km race so I went in pretty naïve – I didn’t know what to expect.” McKenna said.
“I only got into ultra trail running at the start of the year, but I’ve been training really hard and I wanted to see what I could do.
Rhiannon Snipe and 2020 Surf Coast Century female winner Sarah Hedger rounded out the top three in the female category in 10:33:42 and 10:50:06 respectively.
In the men’s field fast finishing Ash Harink took out the overall male category in a time of 9:39:50.
It was Harink’s first 100km ultra marathon and he was stoked with the win.
“I signed up back in April and committed to the event throughout the postponements because I wanted to stay committed to my training,” he said.
“I’ve had such an amazing day; conditions were perfect and I’m so grateful to have the race that I have had here.
“I’m seriously so stoked.”
Conor Dillon and Lachlan Day finished second and third, clocking times of 9:54:35 and 10:13:50 respectively.
Another impressive female in the spotlight was multiple Surf Coast Century winner Kellie Emmerson who won the race in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Coming off a recent winning streak, Emmerson raced in the 50km event and proved just how strong a competitor she was, clocking an impressive time of 04:31:52 after becoming a mother some 16 months ago.
“It is really nice and powerful that women can come back from childhood and still perform at this level and I’m excited to be back at the Century after a long break,” she said.
“The race felt pretty good; I was able to run strongly on the course and I really enjoyed leg three on fresh legs over the 50km course.”
Nicole Virant and Meg Norman of Torquay finished second and third in the women’s 50km race.
In the 50km men’s race Daniel Caswell, Ethan Baker and Tim Dwyer were the top three placegetters with Caswell stopping the clock in an impressive time of 04:19:21 ahead of Emmerson.
The 100km course took competitors from Anglesea to Torquay along the beach, returning along the cliff top tracks and hinterland trails to Moggs Creek and Aireys Inlet, before heading back to Anglesea on the Surf Coast Walk trail, via Point Roadknight.
The 50km course covered the second half of the 100km course, which was renowned for being more challenging than the first half.
Team Salfies Podium, led by Jan Juc’s Codie Wills, was the fastest 100km relay team in a total team time of 08:28:09. Team captain Codie Wills from Jan Juc recruited in his Melbourne based team members Leigh Chivers, Jordy Wright and Brad Johnson to make up the winning team.
Each race started and finished in Anglesea, with the support of the Surf Coast Shire behind the bucket-list style of event that was postponed twice due to COVID-19 and the subsequent restrictions.
Torquay-based event director Sam Maffett said he was excited to see the event come to life and impressed by the enthusiasm of supporters and finishers.
“To see competitors dreams come become reality at the event after many months of training, sacrifices and COVID setbacks, has made this 10th edition of the Century one of our best to-date,” he said.
“We are extremely proud of all participants who showed many emotions throughout the day on this brilliant course; we couldn’t be happier.”
The Surf Coast Century has built a reputation as one of Australia’s must-do trail running events due to its unique course features.
The 2022 edition of the event is set for September 17.