I am not a Fat Ass historian, but I’m not sure that too many Fat Ass events have had council approval, public liability insurance, marshals, road signs or medical cover! Having said that, many would argue that this was not a Fat Ass run at all given that there were drink stations every 8kms and at times an Anaesthetist on a bike beside you, ready to jump on your chest and shove a breathing tube down your throat if you laboured too hard! Never-the-less, 75% of “no fees, no awards, no aid and certainly no wimps” is still a pass so we’ll continue to call it a Fat Ass for now.

What a great day and a tremendous turn out for the 3rd Bellarine Rail Trail Fat Ass run on Sunday August 20. 88 runners in total took part with 4 completing the 68kms (Geelong to Queenscliff & return), 75 the 34kms (Geelong to Queenscliff), and 9 opted to run alternate distances. It was great to see so many runners come from all over Victoria to enjoy the spectacular scenery that the rail trail has to offer. It was also great to see the run continue to grow from the 58 runners we had in 2005.

With clear blue skies, perfect temperature and a mild to moderate tail wind on the way to Queenscliff, it seemed that we were in for smooth sailing. But not quite. The mixing of like-minded runners commenced sooner than expected when it was discovered that the female toilets at the Geelong Showgrounds were locked.

We were again privileged for the 3rd year in a row, to begin the run with a pep talk from marathon champion Lee Troop. In true Fat Ass style, he hauled himself out of bed to the start, having been up half the night tending to his restless daughter. But as with the rest of us, he achieved only a 75% Fat Ass pass rate being aptly aided by a triple shot espresso at the pre-run briefing, much to the envy of all of those on the start line! Troopy subsequently joined us further up the trail with a lousy excuse for not running 34kms relating to some national cross country championship the week later! Good luck in Hobart next week Troopy and ditto to Kristen Wyatt who also started further up the trail for the same reason.

2006 saw the field spread out more rapidly than in previous years, thanks to the presence of Magnus Michelsson who seemed determined to complete 68kms before most of us had finished 34. Or it may have been that he was keen to chase after Peter Gray who had started his 68km journey at 6am but I’m not sure that Magnus knew about that! Last year Peter had been one of the most thoroughly prepared runners present having hidden a whole heap of supplies in the drainage system of the rail trail. At about the 8km mark, I decided he must have taken up a coaching role in the past 12 months when I turned to see two more runners stop at a small PVC pipe running under the path and delicately extract a couple of Gatorades from its bowels.

As we rolled into Drysdale, the groups began to spread out, aided by the small queue at the single toilet by the train station. However, the trip onwards to Drysdale was nothing short of breathtaking, probably in more than one way for many of us! Magnus was the first to see the steam train at Queenscliff station, although his 68km plans were looking shaky with a notable limp on an ankle that had been giving him grief for many months. Soon to follow were many more runners, ecstatic to see Queenscliff station and some soft grass on which to lie down in the sun.

Alas, Queenscliff was only halfway for some. Magnus headed back towards Geelong with mixed plans after a 10 minute stop. Next to follow was Martin Lama, full of determination in one leg but trepidation in the other, fully aware that 30kms per week for the past 2 months wasn’t ideal training for his first ultra! Not far behind was Danny Cole, having run the first 34kms in 3:17, his goal of sub-7hrs for the 68km was looking either very good, or very bad – had he expended too much early energy and would the head-wind run home take its toll? Also starting the return trip just behind Danny was Steve Bentley. Steve had to pull the pin at 51kms last year but was determined that he’d see the Geelong Showgrounds this year on foot. Last to start the return journey was Peter Gray. He would have had a small start on some of the others had he not chosen to down a couple of Queenscliff’s best pies before heading back. But with a wealth of ultra experience behind him, it’s difficult to argue the finer points of sports nutrition with him!

And thus it was that an emergency situation arose, shortly after the minibus left taking the last of the 34km runners back to Geelong, and well after the 68km runners had turned. There, lying seemingly innocently on the green grass of Queenscliff Railway Station, lay an unclaimed yellow backpack. I stared at it for a while, realising that I had two choices. I could try to open it or I could call the anti-terrorist hotline and evacuate Queenscliff. I knew what they would do at Flinders St Station, but what about Queenscliff? I took option 1. Ticking away was a watch. Next to it was a mobile. I dialed the first number I could find on it and tentatively asked the recipient whose phone I was on. It was Danny Cole – should have taken option 2!!

Meanwhile, unaware of the potential emergency situation, 5 runners were descending (they will say ascending) upon the Geelong Showgrounds. Unfortunately for Magnus, the 51km point at Drysdale Station would be more than enough for his ankle and he stepped off the track and into the car. However, the other 4 continued. Martin Lama was the first to return, with 5:56 on his watch representing a huge effort on limited training. Danny Cole, soon to be united with his yellow backpack was next, sneaking in under his 7hr goal by 1 minute! Steve Bentley followed soon after, mission accomplished in 7:18. Unbeknown to most, Steve played a huge part in the behind the scenes organisation of this run and it may not have gone ahead without his help, so I sincerely thank him on behalf of myself and all of those who ran today. Following Steve was Peter Gray in 12:14. Peter remains the only runner to have finished the 68km run in all 3 years that it has been held. Well done on another great effort.

Finally, thanks to all of those who ran and made it a great day. The run will hopefully continue to grow. A huge thank you also to those who supported the run, including my family & friends who gave up their time to marshal the road crossings, drive the minibuses, man the drink stations and take more than 300 photos that can be viewed on the webpage. Many thanks to Kevin Tiller of CoolRunning who set up the webpage for me, having spent an hour or so of his spare time between 1 and 2am transferring it from its original site! Thanks also to the City of Greater Geelong for their support of the run. Hope to see many of you again next year. Best wishes in the interim.

Brett Coleman

Run Times

NB: Times are approximate. This was a group run and not a race as all who took part understood.

Also note that the times are not listed in finishing order to further emphasise the fact that this was NOT a race.