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Lorne Pier to Pub 2014

The small seaside town of Lorne, situated along the Great Ocean Road, is completely transformed over a two day period each year. As both the Mountain to Surf and Pier to Pub events attract many thousands of competitors from not only Australia, but worldwide. Friday morning is where all the fun begins, with an 8km run known as the ‘Mountain to Surf’. Every 2 minutes, a pulse of around 200 runners leave the starting point and begin their trek through the arduous course, which is like no other. There are steep inclines which immediately challenge most competitors, however as runners move into trail style conditions and venture deep into the Otways forest any pain is numbed and simply overpowered by the surreal landscape and beautiful environment. Drink stations along the way are not only filled with cups of water, but many volunteers who are there solely to support your efforts and urge others to push on through the race. The ecstatic atmosphere created is something that cannot be replicated in training and is only experienced through taking part in this exciting, one of a kind race. From here, the course moves out of the bushland and onto the Great Ocean Road, where competitors are greeted with views of a bright blue ocean. Moving along the bends and winding back towards the town of Lorne, runners can sense that the end is nearing. The last kilometre of the course is signalled at the start of the pier, where the final drink station is situated. From this point, many begin to exert their last stores of energy, in hope of finishing strongly in front of the delighted crowds. As runners complete the course they pass through a large inflatable finish line which is set up outside Lorne’s Surf Life Saving Club, and then they are able to move down through the warm sand and enter the waters of Lorne’s main beach to cool down and recover.

After a good night’s rest, many of the runners prepare themselves, along with thousands of other competitors for a 1.2km open water swim, known as the Pier to Pub. The event is the largest of its kind and attracts up to 5000 swimmers each year. Like the run, this race is swam in pulses, where every 5 minutes approximately 200 swimmers enter the clear blue waters of Lorne. With many competitors simply trying to beat their previous times, it quickly becomes a race against yourself, rather than against others in the event. The relaxed atmosphere is established early on, with a beach yoga session commencing the day’s activities. Many stalls are also set up along a grassy area, parallel to the beach. A wide array of merchandise and active clothing is available, with many stalls also selling healthy snacks, which help to keep the thousands of athletes full of energy. The event not only appeals to the general public, but also to elite sportspeople such as the likes of Kieran Perkins, Michael Klim, and many AFL footballers. Politicians and other celebrities have also tried their luck, which has led to an increase in publicity and excitement surrounding the two day event. The following day, all results from the swim are published in The Age and photos are also uploaded online, ensuring entrants have a nice memento to remember their time down at Lorne. The perfect weather at this year’s event brought more than 20,000 people to Lorne, and with the good weather also came extremely quick times, with the new record for the swim standing at 10:46, set my Sam Sheppard from the Gold Coast. We can only hope that the 2015 event will be even bigger and better.