Dave Byrne – Bouddi Coastal Run

With so many awesome trail races popping up in the calendar, there’s constant temptation to race. The old FOMO is a powerful beast! The problem is, if you race too often not only does performance typically suffer, you increase the likelihood of injury. But after seeing this slice of the Central Coast of New South Wales on a training run last year, with local talent Dom Perry, I was convinced that if I were half fit and not travelling with work, then I’d sign up.

Hitting the road early in the morning for the 90 minute drive north, I was pretty pumped. The forecast was for a warm day and being on the coast the humidity was going to be up. Conditions like these are typically not so bad, but when you’ve come out of a cool couple months and train at sunrise, anything over 20 degrees is considered tough! Upon arrival I queued up for my race bib and then set about getting organised. The event was a sell out, so there were plenty of folks milling around. The usual nervous energy didn’t seem present. Instead, it was really chilled out, which was a nice pre-race feeling to have. I guess the more I race and fitter I am, the more relaxed event days become. A 10-minute delay gave me time for a mad rush to the bathroom. I have a history of being the last person on the start line. It’s a habit I’ve had since being a kid and there’s little chance of it changing anytime soon.

Everyone mustered under the start banner on the beach, chatting as the race director gave a quick briefing. Then after a couple minutes we were underway, charging along the soft beach for about a mile to the first set of stairs. This set the theme for the morning. The course consisted of stretches of beach, short, steep climbs, countless stairs and segments of technical single track. There were a few short stretches of fire trail that allowed me to open up a little, but for the most part it’s a tough course. If you look at the profile and photos from the event, you could be forgiven for thinking it was going to be a quick race. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s a bloody hard course that’s hard to find a rhythm in. What’s more, the sand was particularly soft, so the final return journey to the finish was a slog. By that point the sun was beaming down and humidity up, so being on an exposed beach took its toll.

As far as how the race panned out, I essentially went out fairly quickly and established an early lead. Vlad Shatrov was a handful of seconds behind for the opening couple kilometres, followed by a few others in pursuit. By 10km I had a couple minutes on second place so settled down and didn’t force the pace. I didn’t know the course too well and seeing as the first half of the race was a lot more challenging than expected, I wanted to be conservative to make sure I’d be fine in the back half. That said, I suffered quite a bit and was thankful when I finally reached the end and could have a cold drink. In second place was Dom Perry, putting his local knowledge to good use and rolling home strongly. Third was Vlad.

The Bouddi Coastal Run proved to be not only far more arduous than I had thought, but also more spectacular. The scenery was unreal and crossing back through the field meant there was plenty of support on the course. The markings were easy to follow, and even though I didn’t make use of them the aid stations were ample. I chose to carry a 500mL soft flask full of Tailwind, which proved to be just enough.