Wilsons Prom 100 - Reports

Craig Jeffrey

I got to Tidal River for the start of the 100km rather ridiculously early – at about 4.45am! I waited around in the dark for a while and then wandered over to the check in where the race organiser, Paul Ashton, was just setting up.

We were soon huddled by the start line and Paul was giving us some final words of encouragement. He said he’d marked the first 200 metres of the course, but then got bored – “after that it’s up to you.”

It was a relief to start running and I soon found myself crossing the Tidal River bridge in the dark and setting out on the 20km first loop, encompassing the Lilly Pilly Trail and Mount Bishop. I was in the lead but was soon joined by two runners - Dylan and Cody - and we chatted as the first few kilometres spun by. As I climbed Mount Bishop, I realised I was no longer in the lead – I think a few runners had taken a shortcut! In any case, this was one of the many stunning parts of the course. The sun was just beginning to rise, and a hardy photographer was on the top already snapping pictures of runners!

I loved the descent of Mount Bishop – the first part a little bit gnarly but then very gentle and runnable. We came out onto the Tidal River road and started running along the road to Picnic Bay. I was still in the lead at this stage and running alongside Dylan, who was very relaxed. I knew Dylan would probably run a bit faster than me, so I was prepared to let him take off at some point.

Picnic Bay, Squeaky Beach, Pillar Point, we ticked off these landmarks. It was so stunningly beautiful there was little to think about apart from the scenery – now bathed in morning sunlight – and making sure I kept my fluids up. Dylan had taken off on the climb out of Picnic Bay, so I was back on my own.

I picked up a few things at Tidal River and then began the ascent on the road to Mount Oberon carpark. It all felt very controlled and I ran almost this entire section, chatting occasionally to the 44km runners who had started just before I got back to Tidal River.

Nicki Letts

Okay I confess—signing up to the Wilsons Prom 60km trail run probably wasn’t my finest hour. We were straight off the back of a month-long trek in Nepal. I was still waking up every morning expecting to find myself wrapped in my now-smellier-than-acceptable sleeping bag in a damp Himalayan teahouse. Now, less than a week after skidding onto the Tullamarine tarmac, we were swearing at boxes full of running stuff trying to remember where we put the snake bandages.

prom report 08 01Why were we losing our shit about snake bandages? Because Paul Ashton had just posted this on Facebook:


Until this point, I was freaking out that we hadn’t run in over a month. Unless you count sprinting between the bed and squat toilet on day three of our trek, while simultaneously cursing my choice of lentil curry for the past five meals (it was just so damn delicious!).

Now Mat was convinced the snakes were out to get us. I remained more worried that, if they did decide to chase us through the Prom, our legs might not remember how to run away.

After finally digging out what we considered to be enough compression bandages to mummify Mat before the run, we jumped in the Kombi and hit the road.

Gayle Cowling

My fifth “The Prom” run and I was particularly excited about this one because I was going to be running it with my Larapinta mates Nikki and Mat. They had just returned from hiking in Nepal and I was on my last long run before I take on Comrades in South Africa in June. On registration at 5:30am, Paul Ashton (Race Director) took glee in scaring all of us with the weather forecast for the day: we were going to be hit with everything, including 110kms winds, heavy rain and hail, with snow at 1000 metres, but that is The Prom for you—expect anything and everything.

I found Mat and Nikki in the group of runners and we exchanged hugs and kisses and agreed we were going to stick together and have an easy day out with lots of fun and photos. We then gathered around the war memorial as Paul started his race and safety briefing but this time it was delivered with the thoughts of a friend, running comrade and overall great person. We all stood silently in memory of Derek Josephs (The Pirate) who was killed in a cycling accident on Thursday morning. Derek was a wonderful advocate of the ultra-running community and we had raced together in so many key runs around Victoria. It was always his white afro hair and smiley face that stood out for me, along with his utmost perseverance to complete 100km events no matter how tough they were. I shed some tears on the start line.

Compiled by Phil Brabin, ACA (Vic.) Cairn subcommittee convenor

Jointly sponsored by Running Wild and the Australian Commando Association Victoria

Truly an ultra marathon.

The deep subtropical depression sitting off Australia’s eastern seaboard wasn’t doing anyone any favours (apart from recharging dams from Qld to Tas) as its storm surges and flooding wrought havoc up and down the coast. Wilsons Promontory, though not as directly exposed, never the less copped a beating from incessant rain downpours, loosed from the howling winds bursting around the corner of Australia and into an equally perturbed Bass Strait.

Lets face it, it was the perfect setting for the Australian Commando Association’s inaugural 100k ultra marathon Run! ACA Vic teamed up with Running Wild to stage a most formidable challenge. As former Commandos we share a responsibility to encourage younger Australians to in turn do their best, inspired by the same sense of courage, valour and selflessness that has ever been the crucial foundation for all that our nation has achieved. We hope that consciously stepping into the footprints of those first Commandos, will inspire younger generations to a similar excellence with the capacity to serve and make a difference as did those who came before them.

Starting from the Commando Memorial Cairn, the 100 kilometre course (think Melbourne to Seymour, or to The Valley) loops north from Tidal to Darby River and return, before ranging southward to both sides of the Prom as well as the lighthouse, and the most southerly point of the Australian mainland, before returning to the Commando Memorial finish line in Tidal River.

Of the 36 whoset out in the dark at 0600hrs from the cairn, 26 completed the Run. One runner who chose to run less than fully equipped showed the first signs of hypothermia and was extracted.

Dylan Dwyer

I lay in my tent listening to the rain pouring down around me. The wind was blowing so hard I wasn’t sure if the tent would stay put or if we were about to take off. It was dark, wet and windy when my alarm went off at 4:30am. I was already wide awake. I’d had a couple of dozen 5 minute sleeps during the night but nothing that felt any longer than that.

It wasn’t a great night’s sleep but I knew it wouldn’t be too important in the scheme of things. For the first time in quite a few hours the rain had stopped falling. I got dressed and went to my dad’s small camper that he had spent the night in. He cooked me up a couple of pieces of toast and we sat and had a chat while I let the food go down. It was great to have my dad along as support.

I’d travelled down to the Prom two years previously on my own for the 100km run and to have someone helping this time with all the little things would make a big difference. While sitting in the camper the rain started to come down again. It was now time to make my way to the start line. On went the mandatory rain jacket with a hood and I made the short walk over to the start with my dad. There were about 50 runners entered in the 100km event and almost 200 entrants in total over the other events being the 44km, 60km and 80km. Not all made it to the start line and unfortunately not all were able to make it to the finish line.

Read the whole report on Dylan's blog - Running Dad

Gayle Cowling

This would be my 4th year taking on the 60km event at Wilson’s Prom or fondly known as “The Prom” to the locals. Last year had been a disaster for me with a dislocated ankle and a self-rescue out of Sealers Cove. Twelve months later and only a couple of long distance runs under my belt, I was facing both a physical and mental challenge. I was anxious, nervous, really worried about the conditions and whether mentally I could get through it unscathed with no injury.

The weather was scheduled to be windy and rainy with a high of around 15 degrees, the weather man was not wrong. Strong rain came in from every direction as we lined up for our pre-race briefing and roll call at 5:45am for a 6:00am start. It did not let up as all the participants were dressed in wet weather gear for the battle ahead as Paul Ashton – the race director – counted us down to the start. At 6:00am we were off and it was pitch dark. All that could be seen was the vast number of head lamps following each other showering a little bit of light around us.

We started the run at Tidal River and headed out on the intensely long trudge up Telegraph Road to Mt Oberon. A gale force head wind and rain on the ascent was at times forcing me backwards. Nick drove by in the comfort of his car with the window wound down to encourage me to keep moving forward. I can tell you I was not exactly happy about it. As I got to the carpark I stopped for mere seconds to run over to Nick and give him one last kiss as it would be many hours before I crossed that finish line to see him again. I was just thinking get me into the trees for some cover and protection from the wind and rain.

Race Directors Report June 2016

Rain, wind and sand lashed the bodies of over 150 runners as they tackled the 2016 Prom Run at Wilsons Promontory National Park in South Gippsland on Saturday 04 June.

What had promised to be a mild, balmy run around the Prom, for many, became a battle to survive the elements in what many runners called atrocious running conditions, lashing horizontal rain, winds gusting over 50kmph and leeches by the dozen which assaulted the unsuspecting runners. Add to that the raid on race HQ by frenzied, lamington starved, giant wombats and it had just a bit of everything for everyone.

For weeks entries had been pouring in and with the support of Parks Victoria, who not only increased the number of permitted runners, but also did fantastic work in clearing storm damage we were looking at a record level of 190 entries. However, overtraining , injuries and the weather meant we started with only 151 runners on the day.

It was great to see so many returning runners to what must be one of Victoria’s best coastal runs, long sandy beaches, stunning bays, soft single track and a great bunch of people to run with. It was also wonderful to see so many people new to trail running getting out in the Prom and to welcome runners from NZ and Taiwan.

Babi Szolosi

Drove down to this lovely farm house (Fox Hill Farm House) near Foster on Friday with my friend Emilia. We packed so much food and stuff, that we could’ve stayed for at least a week and not die of hunger. Beautiful day!! Checked out the road to the house, then we drove to Tidal River for the registration and gear check. Went to Telegraph Saddle car park first to show Emilia where she can start hiking to Sealers Cove while I run next day. We saw a group of hikers (a family??!!), they were getting ready to go to Sealers Cove and they knew about the event. We took a little stroll, then came back and drove to Tidal River. There everyone seemed happy.

After registration and gear check (it was nice to see Julie, although we only got the chance to say hello), we went to make a BBQ. It started to rain, but we thought it’s OK, we can handle it. Those BBQs are great, just push the button and it works. So we cooked this slice of beautiful porterhouse with colourful peppers and asparagus. We bought some forks, picnic plates and a bottle of wine in Menyan, but didn’t think of glasses…. So wine was served in plastic containers while mother nature was pissing on us…

Got my gear ready, had a shower, then we went to bed. It was raining and windy all night, didn’t sleep much. The alarm was set to 3.45, with the intention to leave at 4.30 to get to Tidal River by 5.30. I finally fell asleep, but dreamt of missing the alarm, sleeping in and missing the start. This gave me a fright at 1.28 in the morning… could still hear the wind and the rain…

Dylan Dwyer’s Report

Running a 100 km mountainous trail run at Wilsons Prom was always going to be a challenge. Leading up to the race I’d spent much time researching the course and trying to work out exactly what I would be in for. I’d done some overnight walks at the Prom a couple of times growing up with the family but it had been many years since I’d been there and I only had some faint memories to go on.

While going over some GPS data I was to find there was over 3,000 m of ascending and descending to be done spread out over the 100 km journey. My longest training run had been a run of 61 km which only had 114 m of elevation gain. I realised the landscape of training in Mildura wasn’t going to do me any favours on a course with hill climbs that would go on for half an hour or more at a time.

Read the whole report on Dylan’s blog - Running Dad


Tom Brazier’s Report

Flew down from Canberra on Friday arvo and met up with La Sportiva teammates Gill Fowler and Matt Adams for the drive to Wilson’s Prom. I’d never been before and everybody was raving about the beaches/views. Personally I got a rude shock when Google maps told us we had a 3.5hr drive to get there, I didn’t realise it was that far away from Melb! We had a quick Cranbourne stop to pick up the essentials like beer, wine and canned soup (perfect mix of salt, protein, carbs and more salt, with minimal fibre). The low key vibe of the Running Wild events lulls me into a false sense of security, but I remembered that this was only the third time I had raced 100km, so I needed to respect the challenge.

Read the whole report on Tom’s blog - Tom’s Running Adventures

Race report by Race Director—Paul Ashton

After 18 months, the Prom run was on again. After the devastating flooding rains of March 2011 which had caused the cancellation of the 2011 event and so much devastation, Victoria’s top coastal national park was to host the return of the 9th Prom 100, a gruelling and debilitating run over four distances: 48, 60, 80 and 100 km.

Due to the closure of some tracks the course would be a modified one, but would still take in all the highlights including Sealers Cove, Refuge Cove, Waterloo Bay, the Lighthouse (the runners love the lighthouse – especially the steep ascent), South Point and Oberon Bay.

Friday night was the time of the gathering with runners coming from as far as Queensland and Tasmania to join up with a crew of dedicated Prom runners back for another fix—Chilli, Whippet, Maggot, RMC and Dougal Dog—all old hands and dedicated lovers of the Prom’s beauty and tough technical terrain and long lonely beaches. Old friendships were renewed and new ones made.

Prom 100 April 28, 2007

Andy Hewat

Saturday, April 28. My father’s birthday. Well it would have been had he not died 16 years ago. He introduced me to Wilsons Promontory when I was eleven years old. We hiked the trails over several days, camping at places like Refuge Cove and Little Waterloo Bay. We came back the following year in the middle of winter and got washed away in typical Prom weather. Those same trails we now run as part of the Prom 100. For me, a trip to the Prom is always special. This one especially so.

The Prom is like a lightning rod for bad weather. The weather can be horrendous at the Prom. Today would be no different. Rain. Rain like you wouldn’t believe. Blinding rain. Coming in horizontal, under the brim of my cap and stinging my eyes. As we started the long trudge up the bitumen to Mt Oberon car park, the wind and rain conspired to force us back down to the start at Tidal River. But the weather shapes the Prom. Not just geographically but metaphysically. You haven’t really experienced the Prom if you haven’t heard the wind roaring through the trees, if you haven’t run the paths as they turn into streams, if you haven’t seen the might of the southern ocean crash onto Southpoint, if you haven’t been soaked to the skin.

I ’slept’ the previous night curled up in the back of my car. My tent kept threatening to blow away in the gale force winds. I had anchored it between the fence and my 4WD but it was still bowing in the wind. To add to the impressive weather display the heavens opened shortly before we lined up to start at 6 am. There were 9 of us in the 100km. A few had nominated the 80 and 60 km and a handful more planned to run the 44 km loop. All up there were 18 of us. I walked most of the hill to the Mt Oberon car park with Brendan. I tried to use his big frame for shelter, to little avail. We couldn’t talk, the rain and wind drowned us out. We didn’t pause at the car park, passing straight through. We hit the singletrack that leads to Sealer’s Cove. Once over the appropriately named Windy Saddle, the trail winds gently downhill eventually turning into duck-boarding on the low-lying swamp flats. Shelter from the wind at last. This made for some great running in the dim predawn light. I left Brendan and picked up the pace.