Info for First Time Ultra Runners

Information for first time ultra marathon runners

Haven’t you heard…? ultra marathons are the new Marathon! And if you are interested in joining the revolution by running your first Ultra Marathon then you’ve found the right event…

“My first Ultra marathon and it was a fabulous experience that amplified not only friendship between strangers whilst challenging themselves but also the infectious spirit of the Surf Coast community.” Sam Orb (2017 Competitor)

As with all things in life, the bigger the challenge… the bigger the reward. Most first time ultra runners recall their first finish as one of the most incredible moments of their life.

It’s amazing what your mind and body can achieve. So step up, sign up for a challenge and re-write your own limits.

Over and over our runners say how perfect the Surf Coast Century is for those tackling their first ultra marathon for many of the reasons listed below:

  • The course is not super hilly. In fact with ‘just 1,800m’ of climbing this is about as ‘flat’ as they come!
  • The support and enthusiasm amongst runners, volunteers, officials and everyone involved with the event gives you an incredible lift.
  • The course is very accessible for support crews and friends to clap and cheer you along the way. In addition to the 7 checkpoints there are countless locations where they can give you some encouragement
  • The course is all on public land (most is in National Parks) and is freely available for training runs from now right through to race day. So you can train on the course and become familiar with it.
  • There is a very supportive network of other runners down this way (such as the Surf Coast Trail Runners group) who love sharing ideas and enthusiasm with runners to help you get there
  • And there is a wealth of information on these pages to help get ready to race…

So if you’re thinking of tackling an ultra-marathon (being any run over 42km) then we believe this is the ideal event for you. Read on for a bit of added encouragement.

“A visually stunning course that will challenge you to do amazing things! Absolutely loved my first ultra marathon experience!” Rebecca (2017 competitor)

Index to the information below:


We’ve a asked a few first-time ultra marathon runners about their journey to ultra runner status and how they found things on race day.

Read on and be inspired:

“The Surf Coast Century is the gateway to trail running and ultra running, being able to get a taste for the magnificent course in the relay will just have you coming back for more and before you know you are doing the 100k solo, just like I did!” Jacqueline (2017 first timer)

“This was my first ever trail run, ever! I did the 100km solo and loved every minute of it. The scenery was breathtaking. I always felt comfortable that I was close to support if I needed it. I met some dedicated athletes on the track and I am inspired to come back next year.” Jackie, 2016 competitor

Trail Running Rookie Ambassador

Rather than just appointing fast runners as our event ambassadors, we want to highlight the journey and commitment that first time runners also make to the event so we can share and learn from their journey as well.

Jess Douglas

Our 2019 Surf Coast Century Rookie Ambassador is Jessica Douglas from Geelong in Victoria. How many 3x World 24HR Elite Solo Mountain Bike Champion’s do you know? If none—then now you know at least one…!

Jess has spent FAR MORE time riding her bikes through the hills than running through the hills, but to set herself a new challenge she has signed up for her first 100km ultra marathon at this years Surf Coast Century. She is already an incredible endurance athlete but how will she adapt to running rather than riding 100km? Let’s find out…

Q&A with Jess

In 3 months time”

You can also keep pace with her updates on her Instagram and Facebook

Check out below how our 2018, 2017 and 2016 Rookie Ambassadors went in their first ever 100km race through their posts below.


In 2018 we were lucky to have Leonie Waldron from the Blue Mountains as our Rookie Ambassador. She had never been to the Surf Coast before and was far more accustomed to running in the mountains than on the beach. Relive her progress here: Hi, I’m Leonie / May/ June / July / August / September / Race report – I did it!!


In 2017, we appointed Emmeline Fisher as she stepped up from a background in road marathons to the full 100km on the trails! About me; April; May; June; July; August; September; you can also follow Em via her instagram account @funrun75


In 2016 we appointed Julie Savage as our Rookie Ambassador and followed her progress to the 100km finish line, here is an archive of Julie’s posts: About me / January/ February/ March / April / May / VIDEO: Leg 1 and 2 / JuneVIDEO: The Forgotten Hill / July VIDEO: Leg 4 / August #1 / August #2 / Post race blog – I did it!!

Training Programs

We are very happy to provide three training programs to help guide you through your preparation for either the 100km solo race, 50km solo race or as a member of a team runnign 25km each. These are an incredible resource and used by many first rummers through to experienced runners looking for some guidance.

These programs are available on the Training and Preparation webpage here

“Ask an Expert” FREE advice for runners

Our two training ambassadors – David Eadie and Nikki Wynd – are very happy to answer your questions about training and preparation as you prepare for the Surf Coast Century. These two are amongst the best ultra runners Australia has to offer and provide an incredible resource for runners and are happy to provide free advice and basic tips on how to train, how to avoid injury, what types of training quantities and distances you should be running and other basic info.

Refer to the Race Ambassadors page for details and fire any questions off to them directly.

How slow can I go and still finish?

Completing a 100km or 50km race is not about moving fast. Even those near the front of the field will agree, it’s more about moving consistently and keeping some cookies in the jar until the end (when you need them the most!).

You do not have to move fast to finish this race, in fact you could walk the whole thing and finish OK. Yes, we have cut off times at the end of each leg to help manage the course but even these are very achievable if you know what to aim for.

But how fast are we talking about? Well for 100km runners…:

Leg 1: the cut off time is 11:30am which gives you 4hrs to do 21km. That’s just 5.25km/hr or 12min/km and it is a flat course along the beach at low tide!

Leg 2: the cut off time is 14:30pm which gives you 5hrs to do 28km. That’s about 5.6km/hr or 10min45/km and it is also pretty flat.

Leg 3: the cut off time is 10:30pm which gives you 6hrs to do 28km. That’s about 4.6km/hr or 12min55/km. This leg is hiller but it is still VERY achieveable.

Leg 4: we have a cut off at CP7 which gives you 2hr30 to do 9km (3.6km/hr) and the whole leg gives you 5.5hrs to do 23km. That’s about 4.2km/hr or 14min15/km and it is also pretty flat.

Obviously if you finish inside one cut off you have more time for the next leg (so could move even slower!).

The 50km course doesn’t really have any cut offs at all – you just need to move to the same cut off times as for the 100km course so that gives you 9.5hrs to do the first 28km and 5.5hrs to do the next 23km.

See what we mean – these paces are slow, especially considering the non-mountainous / non-technical terrain you race over. So what’s the trick to finishing?: KEEP MOVING! Don’t linger in the check points eating, talking, sleeping or wishing it was over….! Get in, get out and keep walking and you will make it easily!


A must do race! Great course – challenging, diverse and never boring. Fantastic atmosphere, amazing support and encouragement from other runners, spectators, locals and volunteers. The course is extremely well marked, the CPs have everything you may need, and the scenery is absolutely breathtaking! This was my first utra marathon, and I couldn’t have picked a better race! Looking forward to the next year!” Alla Pashutina (2017 first-timer)

Nutrition advice for training and racing

What you eat beforehand and especially during your race (and your long training runs) can make the difference between a great race experience and not finishing. So we’ve appointed a Sports Dietitian Alison Patterson to provide great guiding advice on what to eat, when and how much. Click here to go to the Nutrition page to read further.

We will add more content to these pages for ultra running rookies between now and race weekend. But also check out our Training Runs and Groups / Race Nutrition / Equipment and Safety pages for more information on these topics.