Traralgon is located approximately two hours drive south of Melbourne, Victoria, in the Latrobe Valley area. It’s a fabulous event to make a weekend out of with many towns to stop at along the way.
This year marked the 50th anniversary making it Australia’s oldest marathon. First run in 1968, it was an all male affair with 11 competitors. In this it’s 50th year the marathon was a mixed event with a record 158 entrants. Additional events included a half marathon and 10km event starting after the marathon during the morning. All events are an out and back run with the half and full marathons heading out of Traralgon through residential streets for a little over 5km and onto the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail. The trail is a packed gravel surface and snakes it’s way through stunning Scenery. From rural farms with bellowing cows and snorting horses watching runners pass with curious glances, to a flowing river and park lands. The half marathon turns just prior to reaching the neighbouring township of Glengarry while the full marathon turns at 21.1km in the township of Toongabbie. The full marathon starts at 0805 with the cut off 1300. Runners expecting to take longer than 4.5 hours do have an option of an early start at 0705.
Weather at this years event was cold and bitter with a thick fog laying like a blanket over the township and surrounds. This was a blessing in hindsight as the fog obscured long straight stretches making the task appear a lot less daunting.
The first 5km out of the city ran alongside a picturesque river and quaint streets with picture perfect gardens. The last stretch on tarmac before hitting the trail passed a farm with the silhouettes of cows in the foreground of fog and the glow of a rising sun straining to break through the heavy layer of drifting water vapour. It was a sight I will never forget and I just squealed with delight at how beautiful it was. My fellow runners agreed.
It was the friendliest and most encouraging marathon I have ever run. Everyone supported one another. The residents came out and cheered; and the volunteers offering refreshments were beautiful souls full of encouragement.
The hydration stations were approximately 5km apart and runners could drop their own hydration and nutrition off at the recreation ground the day prior at number collection to be made available at the stations.
With 75% of the course on gravel, it was a little hard under foot and I welcomed the return of tarmac in the final 5km. The course is flat with a very slight incline out gaining approx 100m over the first 21km. This can be advantageous to the savvy runner upon the return.
To reflect personally on the event. It was a very fast start. Very fast, too fast and I had to remind myself in the first few hundred metres to pull back and stick to my plan. Sure enough it paid off. Nearing the 21km turn and on the return I passed and continued to pass others. My pace increased with each km while that of my fellow runners decreased.
In the last 3km I honestly wanted the ground to open up and swallow me. I was done! The course was no longer obscured by fog and I just wanted it to be over! I swallowed my last caffeine laced jube and repeating my special mantra over and over in my head, I dug deeper than I have ever dug in a run before. Looking at my watch it was now or never!
I finished my ninth marathon in a sub 3:30 time of 3:27:50. Giving me a PB of 11 minutes. I never ever thought this would be possible given my troublesome Achilles’ tendon. I was the third woman across the line in the 50th Traralgon marathon. Having my name called and standing on the podium, shaking hands with my fellow winners and handed prizes was a privilege.
Traralgon will forever be a special marathon for me and I highly recommend it to others. It was incredibly well organised far exceeding the organisation of a recent international event I competed in.
Event profile: Bonnie Davies