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.

Runners started arriving at the Race HQ on the Friday afternoon for registration and gear check and it was soon bedlam with lines of runners sheltering from the rain as we checked them in and conducted the mandatory gear check. Good to see that over 95% of people had the full kit and only a couple had omitted the rain pants. If the weather had been colder than the 15°C they would not have been permitted to run.

As a race director I often get questioned as to why the need for so much gear- strange that after the run no one raised that issue, probably as most thought the conditions were atrocious. I thought they were mild with 15°C and wondered what would have happened if it had been only 9°C or had snowed, as happened once before.

I am amazed that so many runners do not understand that their safety gear is all that stands between them and disaster and that many runners continue to skimp and take the smallest, lightest gear with them – rather than the best for the conditions. The gear on the list is the absolute minimum!! (There, that is my little rant)!!

For 2016 we tried something different, we formed an association with the Australian Commando Association who provided trophies for the 100km Australian Commando Run as well as providing people to man a checkpoint at Telegraph track junction w, we also changed the 100km run, starting off with the 20km Mt Bishop/Squeaky Beach loop before heading south and tackling the tracks of the Southern Prom. This was done in order to reduce the high DNF rate from 100km runners coming back into Tidal River at the 80km mark.

It was a good trail but for reasons of safety, a) poor weather and b) runners in the middle of the road nearly causing a car to swerve off the road, we will in 2017 go back to the old format, add safety vests as mandatory gear for the 100km runners and cancel the 80km distance as an event.

An example of Great photos from Wilsons Prom 100 which are now available to be viewed and purchased from http://geosnapshot.com/e/running-wild-wilsons-prom-100

With the 60/80 and 100km runners heading off into the darkness and rain at 0600 and our new comrades from the Australian Commando Association heading of to set up a checkpoint at the junction of Telegraph an Waterloo Tracks we were able to focus on getting the 44km runners registered and checked in – again so good to see so many first time runners getting into serious trail running. Then they were off and we had a brief respite before the first of the 100km runners completed the first 20km!

As the day progressed, wet, soggy runners continued to cross the finishing line many smiling, others blood stained from the Battle of the Leeches, to a warm welcome of the traditional Freddo Frogs and Caramello Bears as well as lamingtons, hot soup and noodles, before heading off to a long soaking shower.

Throughout the day runners fell victim to the course, with over 25% of the 100km starters making the right decision not to complete the course due to its toughness and the weather and making their way back to the finish line. (Thanks guys).

Special thanks to the Australian Commando Association for their support in manning the checkpoint at Telegraph track and Parks Victoria in doing a casevac of one distressed runner. Congratulations to all the runners for getting back safely and having everyone in under 19 hours.

Special thanks to our volunteers Julie, Katherine, Graham, Rob for their hours standing around recording runners and serving food and drink. Without each and everyone of you this event would not be possible.

We finished off the event with a presentation at the memorial to the Commandos who served and fell in the war and learned a little history from a 92 year old coast watcher who served in WWII

Next year the run is scheduled for Saturday 06 May – 44/60/100km followed by the Darby River Fun Runs on the Sunday.