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.

In the pre dawn gloom the wind howled and the 29 runners struggled out of sleeping bags, cars and tents to prepare for the run. A quick survey of the campsite identified that the wild Prom Wombats had wreaked their havoc, walking right through the wall of the race HQ shelter—there were only walls on two sides, but that didn’’t stop the hairy four legged monster.

Breakfasts were gulped down, gear, adjusted, the 5 minute to briefing warning shouted out across the campsite, slowly in ones and twos the runners gathered for the pre run briefing and welcome.

Introductions were quickly made, iPhones checked for the latest weather forecast—strong winds gusting above 50 kmph and rain—it was typical Prom weather, and then the runners were off following the RD to the beach.

Runners quickly found their pace on the firm sand of Norman Beach as they jogged towards the cliffs above and a lightening sky. Quickly the field spread out with Beardy, and Damon Goerke leading the field, then there was just the stragglers at the back, enjoying the view and a long day out.

Throughout the day runners passed each other on some of the out and back sections, on the way to the Lighthouse and South Point— in between were long moments of solitude and wild beauty. At the Lighthouse curses were directed at the RD due to the steepness of the climb and the intensity of the winds—they were gusting at over 65 kmph.

As runners came into the camp at the end of the day reports stories unfolded, Damon Goerke, who was just out for an easy run blitzed the 48 km run in 4.57.30 followed by Paul Williams in 5.16.28. Fleur Grose was first female home in 6.37.

Paul Ashton and Terry Cornell had a duel to the death racing madly across the sands to beat the 8 hours for the 48 km and came in, with times of 7.79.40 and 7.59.50 respectively—a snail could have run faster than those two but they beat the 8 hour time and felt great—then they snuck off for an afternoon sleep (age has its privileges).

Then it was the long wait for the 60, 80 and 100 km runners. Maggot (Malcolm Gamble) completed the 60 km in 7.58, Josh Street the 80 km in 12.22 and Dan Beard the 100 km in 14.04 (10.55 for the 80 km).

Malcolm Gamble was true gentleman, and after foolishly offering to accompany Kathy MacMillan on the last 20 km of the 100 set out at around 10 P.M., after he’d had a long sleep, shower and dinner—such is the camaraderie that this run inspires.

The last runners came in late at night—Chilli striding along the path under the insipid glow of a little red light attached to his hat arrived at 10.20 P.M. (he’d left his main torch behind), Beardy was seen to finish the run and glower at the RD saying “don’t talk to me about your next run”, his normal happy disposition returned the next morning.

Kathy Mac complained about the extra 6 km bonus miles thrown into the run—it didn’t help that she and a number others went the wrong way on North Refuge Beach!

Was it a success—absolutely, was it tough, undoubtedly—everyone said the course was harder than the traditional run and times reflected that, we will just have to hope that Parks Victoria, who have done a great job restoring the trail are able to open the track to Sealers sooner rather than later.

Will the runners return—yes, next year will be the 10th running and is scheduled for 27 April 2013.