Solo challenge

Smithton’s Nicole Anderson powers across a bush track with the ocean as her backdrop during the 2014 Surf Coast Century endurance race last weekend. Picture courtesy of Supersport Images.

Race. Smithton’s Nicole Anderson continues to tick boxes off her fitness bucket list, recently completing the ultimate test of mind and body in picturesque surrounds.

Victoria’s Great Ocean Road – one of the world’s most scenic coastal stretches – acted as the backdrop to the Surf Coast Century: a 100-kilometre endurance trail run over a day through the seaside towns of Anglesea, Torquay and Aireys Inlet.

With hundreds of competitors travelling from across the country to compete, and against 29 females in her 20-39 age category, the 39-year-old finished in 19th place (272 overall) with a time of 15 hours, 42 minutes and 57 seconds.

“I would’ve been happy with 20 [hours], but I smashed 16,” said Anderson, a GP at Smithton Medical Centre.

“It was just nice to pull off 100 – and feeling comfortable. It’s a lovely achievement.”

Though she had experienced “nothing like it” with the event covering a distance of twice the average 42km marathon, Anderson was motivated to enter while not swimming or riding to keep active over the colder months.

To prepare for the gruelling journey, the Smithton local ran hours at a time over varying terrains, covering areas surrounding Arthur River and Rocky Cape National Park.

“You’ve got to be fully self-sufficient,” she said. “I mainly just tried to practise running with a backpack, and running down hills.”

The course route began on the beaches of Anglesea as the sun began to rise around 6am, following the coastline through to Torquay before weaving back through bush tracks in the Great Otway National Park and circling Aireys Inlet.

“To be honest, I thought it’s just going to be one big bush walk,” Anderson said.

“You put it in that context, and it doesn’t seem that scary. All you’ve got to do is keep yourself going.”

While some competitors entered in teams of three or four, Anderson completed the entire race solo, with rest stations offering treatment and water periodically across the course.

Following advice given to her to “go easy in the first 75km, and then push hard”, Anderson was able to pass the finish line before 10pm, admitting she was “still able to run a bit” towards the end.

“It was actually a bit sad to finish, because it was such a nice day out,” she said.

“It’s very enjoyable to be doing them and to actually be outside. To see that part of the world . . . I took some stunning photos.”

Next on the agenda for the fitness enthusiast is the multi-sport Freycinet Challenge on Tasmania’s east coast, the Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival in Queensland, the 64km Brunie Island Ultra and the 82km Cradle Mountain Run.

She said February’s Cradle Mountain event would be particularly satisfying to finish, after she was forced to exit last year’s race early due to a torn calf muscle.

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