Info for First Time Ultra 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…

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.

Index to the information below:

Great experience for a first timer. Beautiful scenery and lovely people. (Toni, 2022 Participant)

This was my first 100km race an I absolutely loved it. What a great event especially for a first timer at the 100km distance. A day I will never forget, what an awesome experience. (Travis, 2019 Participant)

Brilliant race for a first-timers like myself. The views, the different terrains, the amazing vollies in the checkpoints, the fellow runners, the vibe in general and the laughs and hugs and celebrations at the finish line…  I’ll be back, for sure! (Carolina, 2021 Participant)

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)

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 course would be less technical and more flat than most other ultra’s in comparison.
  • 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.

I had this event on my bucket list for a number of years and it was everything I wanted it to be. Spectacular scenery, great trails and a great participant experience. (Adam, 2019 Participant)


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:

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 – we call them our Rookie Ambassador and their journey is always super inspiring as they learn their way to the start (and finish) line.

READ the progress of our 2024 rookie ambassadors here.

2023: Our Rookie Ambassador was Jarrod Bloomfield aka. ‘J Bomb‘. He’s a regular 38 year old guy who realised be needed to make some changes to his life and running 100km is part of them. Read his PDF biography here OR video intro here and watch an update from June here

2022: Our rookie Amabassdor was Daniela Ruffato. Why does Daniela want to run 100km? She says “why not?”. Read about Daniela’s journey HERE in her monthly updates here: March, April, May, June, July, August.

2021: Our 2021 Rookie Ambassador was Rapid Ascent’s very own Annie Knight (pictured right)! Annie was the expert behind the info@ email and the athlete registration manager for all competitors. CLICK HERE is her Q&A, and keep reading her monthly updates here: June, July, September.

2020: Our 2020 Rookie Ambassador was Sean Purcell – a Torquay local with an IMPRESSIVE story. Read his Q&A HERE or listen to a podcast we recorded with Sean HERE.

2019: In 2019 former world champion endurance mountain biker Jess Douglas was our rookie ambassador. She had plenty of experience racing long bike events but had never run – until now. Relive her progress here: Q&A with Jess, In 3 months time” , my year as a trail runner.

2018: 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!!

2017: 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

2016: 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 running 25km each. These are an incredible resource and used by many runners 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 training ambassador – David Eadie – is 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 via [email protected] .

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 3 hours and 45minutes after starting – that’s 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 8hrs 45min after starting, or 5hrs just to do leg 2 and 28km. That’s about 5.6km/hr or 10min45/km and it is also pretty flat.

Leg 3: the cut off time is 14hrs 30 mins after starting, or 5hrs and 45minutes to do leg 3 and 28km. That’s about 4.6km/hr or 12min55/km. This leg is hillier but it is still VERY achievable.

Leg 4: we have a cut off at CP7 which gives you over 2hr to do 9km (4.5km/hr) and 5hrs to do leg 4. That adds up to 20hrs to do the whole course. That’s about 4.6km/hr 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 has the same cut offs for leg 1 and leg 2 in 2024 as its the first half of the 100km course)

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. Make sure you read the variety of information on our Nutrition and Hydration page to learn a lot more.