First Timers

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...

...the Surf Coast Century is the ideal event for ultra-running rookies...


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.

Index to the information below:


Race Ambassador Kellie Emmerson tells you to GET EXCITED!

Welcome to the Surf Coast Century everyone!

I LOVE THIS RACE! (You'd hope so after running it three times in a row!) It's fast, it's beautiful and it's achievable.

Some of you will be excited, some of you will be scared, and I'm sure plenty of you are still sitting on the fence about whether to sign up or not!

The best thing about signing up now, is that you've got something to work for. Something to push you through those cold winter mornings that are on their way. Running an event like the Surf Coast Century is more than just what happens on race day. It's about the journey to get there.

Finding new trails. Learning new skills. Meeting new people. Discovering what your body can do.

I'm here as an ambassador to help you on that journey, and I can't wait!

Whether you're in a team of 4, a team of 2, or solo, this is a race that everyone can have a go at. I love that there are plenty of options and always a tempt to step it up the following year. There's beach, there's trail, there's sweet single track and there's fire road. There's sand, there's reef and there's water (yep wet feet!!). There's a magnificent coastline, there's stunning wildflowers and a beautiful sea breeze. Did I mention soft sand?

Get excited, you're going to love it. 



In 2015 an incredible 62% of participants were competing in their first ultra marathon with 53% saying the same thing in 2016...  So we asked a few of them to prepare a testimonial about their journey to ultra runner status and how they found things on race day. Read on and be inspired


"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. Thanks." 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 adn learn from their journey as well.

For 2017 we have appointed Emmeline Fisher as our ‘Trail Running Rookie Ambassador’ and we will follow her journey as she trains for her first ultra-marathon at the Surf Coast Century. Em is a mother of 2 primary and 2 teen aged kids and after completing 10x road marathons is inspired to take the step to 100k - this is her progress!

You can also follow Em's progress via her instagram account @funrun75

[In 2017 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 / JulyVIDEO: Leg 4 / August #1 / August #2 / Post race blog - I did it!! ]


"I could not think of a better race to run your first 100km event. The course is varied and stunningly beautiful, it is extremely well organised, there is amazing support out on the course from volunteers, spectators and even the general public! The vibe and the excitement surrounding the event gave me so much energy that the 100k's flew by. It was such an incredible experience on so many levels. Thanks to the organisers for putting on such a brilliant event." Julie2016 Rookie Ambassador


Training Programs

We are very happy to procide three trainign 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 first rummers through to experiences 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 9:30am 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 2:30pm 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 8:30pm 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 new 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!


"I absolutely loved the 100km Surf Coast Century it was my first 100km it was so well organised the volunteers were all amazing & if you are considering a 100km event I would highly recommend Surf Coast as a first for you." Lisa 2016 competitor.

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.


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