X-Terra Great Ocean Road – Australia

By: Max Nanni

Tales From The Dark Side
Darkside or Triside?

When toward the end of last year I leisurely checked the 2014 X-Terra world tour calendar l immediately felt a tickle down my back noticing that the Australian date at Anglesea, on the Great Ocean Road (GOR) in Victoria was matching with my kids school holidays in March… It all ended few minutes later with me signing up to combine a nice Race + Family Holiday trip.

Anglesea is a little piece of paradise, seated at the beginning of the GOR, with its own little cafes on the waterfront, a golf course where kangaroos roam frees and unafraid, good food, a fantastic surfing ocean beach and plenty of hills with great trails for some super fun MTB rides or hikes, not to mention the GOR itself which skirts for kilometers the ocean below providing a perfect setting for cycling, motorbiking or even just a car drive all the way to the 12 Apostles.

The race was set for Sun 30th of March and down in Victoria at this time of the year it can be be cold… and it was!

IMG_4113The morning of the race at 7am when we (the whole family) left for the start it was 14 C, my wife Enrica and my son Alessandro were registered for the 10km Trail (actually l should say ‘Beach’…) Run scheduled to start at 7:45am. I was a bit undecided what to wear as X-Terra flag off was only scheduled for 9am and after some debating, considering l will have to stay quite a bit outdoor waiting for my time, l decided to go full suited up, with trisuit and wetsuit already on… Not the best if you expect a toilet break but good in terms of warmth and organization.

It was cold indeed and my body ‘armor’ was a blessing!

Waiting for the minutes to tick by and for half of the family to finish their run l had a good look at the swim course which was supposed to be 2 laps of a 500mt quadrilateral, 3 sides in the water and 1 running on the beach… It looked much longer then advertised… But they always look long, don’t they?

At 9am the race went off sharp on time, about 15 Pros first and a minute later the usual horde of boys, girls, ladies and mamils hit the water.

IMG_4114Until then l only had the courage to dip one toe in the freezing ocean water so the first impact was hard, even with the wetsuit on l could feel the icy liquid numbing my skin from ears to toes, thank goodness the adrenaline build-up right under the first layer of skin did the usual wonders and 1 min into the swim it felt much better already.  I was not in a particular good ‘swimming shape’ so l decided to start a bit on the side, trying to avoid the usual carnage of the first couple of hundred meters, still l ended up right in the middle of the pack with the self preservation instinct working at its best… as usual after 3-400 mt it all quieted down and it became very pleasant.

As l was predicting the swim course was longer of the advertised 1km Swim resulting instead in 1.8km which l covered in 26min and very happy with myself.

Transition was about 300mt away and l never enjoy transitions… So it sucked as usual taking longer than it should, with several people taking places off me which, though, was restored to its rightful order soon after l jumped on the bike.

IMG_4051Trying the MTB course the day before was a blessing as I knew exactly what to expect, that helped a lot to get in the right rhythm and especially to position myself ahead of other riders just before the 3 single trail technical section, hence not wasting time stuck behind slower wheels. The MTB was a fun fun thing, completing the 26km and 500mt of ascent in just over an hour and several positions gained… I was aware though that it was a short lived feeling since, as always, the run is my curse.

In the meantime with the sun well up in the sky temperature rose to close to 30 C which was also not ideal for what was coming next.

DSC_3451I had no idea of what to expect in the run course, which in any case would have not changed anything. In and out transition in another not very impressive style and time the course took us back to the beach close to the surf for about 500mt, then some 20-30 steps and a steep not runnable (at least for me…) climb to enter the gravel trail which skirts the GOR, the views were surely fantastic, it’s too bad I only managed to keep my eyes transfixed on the ground  1 mt ahead of me… a few up and downs on that for over a km and then the hell was upon us, back to the beach for 6km of soft sand running, half way through and with dozens of people already flew by me l had the strong urge to simply stop, strip off and jump in the cold ocean… I resisted the urge and kept going, beach done, more steps, more up and downs, back to the sea and through some big sea rocks brought us back to the first beach and the last km before the finishing line, all done in 1 hr for the Run and for a total race time of 2h36min in 10th place of my age group (yeah, Australia is not Asia where coming top 3 and picking a Maui slot is always an option…).

Even though the placing was not great my times were good for my current fitness and l was very pleased of the overall experience and performance.

IMG_4129Lastly I definitely strongly suggest  everyone who loves quietness, cycling, sea and nature to take a trip to this little paradise named Anglesea and the whole GOR, you won’t be disappointed!

Cheers from the dark side.


Max Nanni

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