What a day for the 2nd running of the Bellarine Rail Trail Fat Ass run! With showers and local hail forecast, it seemed that a wetsuit might have been more appropriate than running shorts to traverse the 34kms from Geelong Showgrounds to Queenscliff or back (68kms). However, the 8am start brought us brilliant sunshine and an appreciated tailwind.

June 2004 saw the inaugural running of the event under the control of ultra enthusiast Phil Essam. In his move to Canberra, however, he had to hand over the reigns of organising the run. Having run that first year, it was clearly a trail that had plenty to offer and keen for it not to disappear off the calendar, I decided to take it on. Always keen to add my own bent to things, I moved the run closer to the Melbourne Marathon and added support in the form of aid stations where runners could bring their own supplies to the start that we would put out on the course.

The week leading up to the run proved to be an obstacle course with what appeared to be a threatened last minute run cancellation. Unexpected publicity in the Herald-Sun’s health and fitness section caught the attention of the Geelong Showgrounds personnel who, clearly not being CoolRunning savvy, struggled in their initial attempts to uncover more information. Subsequently, it was not only the running community taking a very keen interest in the run, but also the local council and the local constabulary! Sure enough, given the multiple road crossings throughout the run, the ugly head of public liability stood tall above the trail. Furthermore, it became increasingly difficult to explain the salient points of a FAT ARSE ultra as emailed to me by the Senior Sergeant, particularly the emphasis on it not being a race, when he uncovered last years run report titled “David Jones wins inaugural Bellarine Rail Trail Fat Ass Ultra”! Fortunately, it became evident that no one was going to attempt to stop a like minded group of runners getting together for a pleasurable training run but I fear in future years such issues will only become larger!

Much to my surprise on run day given the weather forecast, 58 keen runners fronted up to the Geelong showgrounds bearing their supplies ready to tackle the rail trail. All of a sudden my 10pm pre-run briefing the night before with my wife, brother, sister and brother-in-law suddenly looked like it was going to pay off! My brother-in-law had kindly offered to make sure that things ran smoothly on the day to allow me to run – he did such a good job that many mistook him as myself! My initial impressions were that we may not need to transport supplies to the aid stations. Peter Gray who was up for his 2nd 68km journey along the trail, was ready to sign up even before we arrived and informed me that he had already hidden a handful of coke cans and other supplies in the drainage system of the trail!

Lee Troop was kind enough to continue his support of the run and provided us with a prerun pep talk before we set out to the sounds of Survivior blaring from my car speakers. The early pace was sufficient enough for one runner to drop his support team within the first 8kms his brother on his bike who sounds like he may need to get into training for next year. The first 17km to Drysdale Station flew by and saw a great front pack of about 15 stick together at just under 4:30/km pace, amused by the relentless banter of enthused runners. It also raised a few questions, one of which was how mother and daughter managed to swap running pants between the first two drink stations! The other question was why were the girls helping out at the aid stations so happy to see us? It was only at the end that I found out that the 8km aid station was hurriedly packed up so that they could get to Drysdale before Little K came though in the front pack they were very keen to see more!

The aid station and toilet stop at Drysdale saw the front pack stretch out and the pace quicken. Despite the increasing tailwind, it became clear that for many, the fresh legs were no longer so strong. Nevertheless, the terrifically scenic trip towards Queenscliff in the distance somewhat made up for this. We also enjoyed an impromptu and timely aid station at the 26km mark courtesy of Sam Smith’s daughter who stocked up her table full of lollies and drinks, much to the excitement of us all. The last 2kms contained a few rolling hills and it was a grateful sight for us all to see the Queenscliff Steam Train that meant the end of the road for some, but only half way for the brave six intending to make the return trip. First into Queenscliff was a group containing Lee Troop, Rohan Perrot, Paul Martinico and David Wynn in about 2hrs 18mins. Following closely behind was Rowan Walker who was starting to feel the effects of his 67min half marathon PB the week earlier.

Of the five 68km runners, Rob Gray was the first to make the turn, having arrived in Queenscliff only 16 minutes after the first of the 34km runners. Next was Steve Bentlley followed by Mike Pickavance, Michelle Thompson, Garry Wise and Peter Gray. The trail home was going to prove frightfully tough. The sunny skies had been taken away and replaced by a steady stream of biting rain and the delightful increasing tailwind to Queenscliff, suddenly became an horrendous head wind. Feeling the effects of a recent cold and keen not to destroy himself prior to his quest to conquer Cradle Mountain, Steve Bentley called it a day at 51kms.

Meanwhile, Rob Gray was back at his car in the amazingly impressive time of 5hrs 33mins and was back in Ballarat before the next runner finished! In a flurry of activity, the next 3 runners were all close together with Michelle Thompson (the only female brave enough to tackle the 68kms) coming in at 7hrs 20mins, followed soon after by Mike Pickavance and Gary Wise. That left Peter Gray as the sole runner remaining on the course. Peter was slowly but surely making his way along the trail, ticking off drainage systems as he collected his cans of Coke. I was only to discover at 9pm that night when he phoned, that he had conquered his challenge 90 mins after nightfall, buoyed on by the fabulous meat pies available at Drysdale and Leopold on the return trip! I have it on good authority, however, that despite braving the elements for almost half the day, Peter pulled up much better than Mike Pickavance, who according to his wife, was waddling around home like a sick duck at the end of the shooting season!

A huge thanks to all who took part and hopefully cemented this run on the ultra calendar. The date clash with GH 100 clearly limited the number of 68km enthusiasts this year but hopefully will not be a problem next year. An even bigger thanks to my family and friends who came out in force to man the aid stations and help with transport back to Geelong. Without this support, I could not have offered the aid that we had and I certainly could not have run. Finally, thanks to Kevin Tiller for his ongoing support of such runs through CoolRunning and providing the means to organise the run. I look forward to seeing everyone again in 2006.

Good running to all.

Cheers, Brett Coleman.

Run Times


  1. Rob Gray 5:33
  2. Michelle Thompson 7:20
  3. Mike Pickavance 7:30
  4. Garry Wise 7:52
  5. Peter Gray 11:45

Steve Bentley dnf withdrew at 51kms


  1. Paul Martinico 2:18
  2. Rohan Perrot 2:18
  3. Lee Troop 2:18
  4. Rowan Walker 2:18
  5. David Wynn 2:18
  6. Brett Coleman 2:23
  7. David Bertovic 2:25
  8. Charlie El-Hage 2:25
  9. Peter Bray 2:26
  10. Jess Kirley 2:27
  11. Simon Knowles 2:27
  12. Mick Worthington 2:32
  13. Peter Bignell 2:33
  14. Rob Gray 2:34 (68km runner)
  15. Brook Harvey 2:34
  16. James Black 2:36
  17. Louise Denley 2:36
  18. Kevin Choate 2:39
  19. Chris Korfiadis 2:39
  20. Noel McMahon 2:39
  21. Richard Macafee 2:40
  22. Seamus McGowan 2:43
  23. Scott Hollow 2:47
  24. Steve Montgomerie 2:47
  25. Barry Warwick 2:47
  26. Jane Allardice 2:49
  27. Ray Bradbury 2:49
  28. Eugene Duff 2:51
  29. Robin Fletcher 2:51
  30. John Boyle 2:53
  31. Gary Hughes 2:53
  32. Brian Harvey 2:54
  33. Sam Smith 2:56
  34. Mike Pickavance 2:58 (68km runner)
  35. Mark Falls 2:59
  36. Scott Harvey 2:59
  37. Wanda Kelly 2:59
  38. Steve Bentley 3:00 (68km runner)
  39. Jennifer Kelly 3:04
  40. Peter Whyte 3:04
  41. Virginia Cross 3:09
  42. Mary Pickavance 3:09
  43. Vinnie Turcinovich 3:09
  44. Peter Watson 3:09
  45. David Batt 3:12
  46. Michelle Thompson 3:12 (68km runner)
  47. Garry Wise 3:12 (68km runner)
  48. David Spencer 3:14
  49. G. Sullivan 3:16
  50. Annabelle Brennan 3:22
  51. Paul Crossley 3:32
  52. Cal Tod 3:36
  53. Dawn Parris 4:24
  54. Leah Stringer 4:24
  55. Sandra Howorth 4:56


  1. Simon Gower 1:43
  2. Heidi Wolff 2:15