11 November 2017
THREE BAYS MARATHONby GREAT OCEAN ROAD
Before the sun had risen and before I had even woken up, enthusiastic marathon runners and walkers had commenced their briefing. An undulating circuit route from Portland, out to Cape Bridgewater and then back again. 42.2km, two major climbs and three bays to conquer… a gruelling challenge. Half and quarter marathon runners had it a little easier; a downhill trend and a 10am start. Unfortunately, I was nursing an injury over the weekend and so, traded pavement pounding for some side-line emotional support.
I drove alongside the marathon runners heading West on the first leg of their journey. The weather cooperated, blessing competitors with a cool but clear morning; perfect for sightseeing. Especially reaching the crest of each hill, the stunning Bridgewater Bay was revealed. While gazing, I noticed signs that were scattered across the course. At first, I assumed motivational quotes but then I read more carefully. A few notable mentions: “You think this is a hill?”, “What goes down, must go up again” and my personal favourite, “Run like you stole something!”. I hope the runners found some energy to have a little giggle, I know I did.
14 local school teams also competed in a marathon relay, sharing the load between 8 or more runners. One brave charger would take the baton on foot while the others spurred the team on from the school bus that drove along-side. School uniform on a Sunday might not sound too enticing but I bet this was the best extra-curricular activity all year; I could tell by the smiles on their faces as they crossed the finish line. Relay teams would file out of the bus for a sprint finish. Many other Portland community groups joined in on the action too.
I couldn’t help but feel jealous while cheering the runners through their last few steps. Deep breaths, hunched over, hands on knees to support the jelly legs… they had done it. A quarter, half or full marathon it did not matter, they had achieved something great. A medal swinging across their chest; a memento to remember when they conquered the 3 bays. Presentations followed upstairs in the Richmond Henty Hotel; I tried to look the part, taking advantage of the refreshments. Runners mingled over a sausage in bread while taking in the views of Portland Bay.
Before making the trip out West, Portland was uncharted territory for me. I stayed with Quest Apartments in a comfortable & spacious room in the centre of town. The 3 Bays Marathon coincides with the Upwelling Festival; a good excuse to explore the town for a weekend.