Great Alpine Road Marathon - Reports

Daniel Broadridge

It’s interesting looking back on this race, as it’s a bit of an oddity. Here I am finding out about this race and a whole bunch of different distance trail races that were on the day before, and I decided to do a road race? That’s weird Daniel—you’re not called the “Road Running Novice”. There was a reason behind the madness though, getting a PB and finally breaking the 1.30 mark, taking me from an alright runner, to a pretty good runner, and potentially telling me I can run a sub 3-hr marathon next year.

With the Great Alpine Road Half-Marathon being the inaugural race this year, details on elevation were slim but what I did know at the time of entering was this. Starts at the top of Mt Hotham, runs “down” to Blowhard Hut in about 5 kms, turns around and heads back up to Mt Hotham, then runs “down” to Dinner Plain. That to me sounded like the perfect event, running downhill more than uphill, this will give me the best chance possible to crack that magic barrier. Not quite…

3 Sale and District Runners left Sale on Saturday afternoon for this race: Mel (enthusiastic support crew), Brad and myself (both running the half). The trip up to Dinner Plain was stunning, especially the part between Bruthen and Dinner Plain. The highlight was a lookout over to Mt Kosciusko, with the visibility being amazing; we could see the snow on its peak, which was pretty cool. (haha get it?)

After we got up to Hotel High Plains and unpacked, we all went for a shakeout run around the Montane Loop, and this short 2 km loop already showed how beautiful the trails were around Dinner Plain. This made me a bit jealous of Lucy Bartholomew who got to play on these trails for the entire week leading up to the weekend. One thing we all noticed at the end of the run though was how we were more out of breath then we should have been. The effects of being 1600 m high were starting to show.

At the time of the 2014 Great Alpine Road Half marathon & 13 klm, my wife, Penny & I were not avid or regular runners. We were just starting to transition from the sport of open water swimming to triathlon. And we saw this event as an interesting challenge, as well as a good excuse to travel down from the central Queensland coast where we live, to visit my mum and our daughter.

Because of the lack of running miles in our legs, Penny entered the 13 klm event, whilst I decided to walk the half at a fairly fast pace.

I won’t go into great details with regard to the course, as it has changed this year, from 2014. The half marathon will probably be easier in 2016, as some of the more brutal hills have been taken out & replaced with the undulating road to Dinner Plains. But the marathon will cover all of the hills we did in the half back in 2014, and I think brutal is a fair description.

For what it is worth, some of the stats from my garmin are attached. You can see from the altitude, elevation gain/loss, and my heart rate (as a walker), that the course is indeed, challenging.

Penny and I found this event to be excellent. It was small and low key (it would be nice to have a few more entrants). But it was extremely well organised and the volunteers on the course were excellent. The course and the scenery were absolutely stunning. And it was a privilege to have half of the road closed just for the runners. In the first hour of the race, I saw less than a handful of cars. It was also very cold at the start and in a few early parts of the course where you are in the shadow of the mountain. But it warmed up nicely as the sun rose higher. Most runners started with gloves & some warm gear & discarded them by the side of the road when they warmed up. But everyone did the right thing & picked up their discards after the race.

When we heard this event was on again this year, we entered without hesitation, and we are really looking forward to returning to this beautiful part of our country. We probably still can’t call ourselves “real runners” yet, but we have been running regularly, including some long runs & hills, so we will both enter the half marathon as runners in 2016.

So who should consider entering this event? I think any average runner who has good cardio fitness & no health concerns should be well capable of doing the half. Use common sense & get a medical thumbs up if unsure. And this event should appeal to runners who feel like a challenge in the best of the great outdoors. Over 6,000 people compete in the Great ocean Road Marathon—we did so in 2014—but we think the scenery and the outdoorsy feel of the Great Alpine Road, make this an even better event.