I’ve been a member of Gunnies for almost four years now, but it was only about four minutes into my very first evening with the group that I realised three key things:
1. Gunnies is insanely social and friendly
2. Everyone is welcomed regardless of their running ability and times
3. The Great Ocean Road Running Festival (I’ll refer to it as GORRF) is one of the biggest events for the club throughout the year.
So it was with much sadness that, some 18 months later and after a ton of training in my running shoes, I had to pull out of GORRF and give my half-marathon entry to a a fellow Gunnie as I had come down with a nasty case of the flu. I was tempted to do the run anyway but it would not have been much fun and, perhaps more importantly, I would have been terrible (and contagious) company for everybody else.
So fast forward another two years later, to May 2019, and my moment had finally come – I was going to participate in GORRF (just the 14km as I did not want to tempt fate again) and see what this big weekend was all about.
Well now I can say that the hype is definitely justified. The location, the run itself, the camaraderie amongst our group, the weather, the non-running activities throughout the weekend, the time at the pub…it all added up to one fabulous weekend.
For me, the two most enjoyable aspects were definitely the people I was spending time with and the location where we were spending it.
Firstly, the people: thanks to the kind organisation of Claire Ruedin, a bunch of us stayed in a massive house in Lorne, with sweeping views of the bay, a heavenly outdoor shower and ample heating. Even though we were a little removed from the action (the main GORRF activities take place in Apollo Bay), there was enough of us to make sure we had a lot of fun. We had great meals, played silly games (ping pong on the dining table proved particularly popular one night) and had plenty of time to just relax and unwind.
There was another sizeable contingent of Gunnies (arguably more seasoned Gunnies ha ha!) who were staying in Apollo Bay, and it was awesome to meet up with them at the pub before or after various runs took place.
Secondly, the location: I had actually completely forgotten how incredibly beautiful the Great Ocean Road and surrounds really is. Stunning beaches, rolling green hills, tranquil valleys, rustic farmsteads. The landscape was made even more impressive with the fact that it was bathed in golden, temperate sunshine all weekend. Speaking of bathing, that was another true highlight – going for the Gunnies traditional post-run swim afterwards. Thanks to Chris Dahl for convincing us that swimming in 15 degree water without wetsuits was not actually as mad as we first thought, and that actually, once you’re in, it’s electrically energising.
Counting down to next year already.