This weekend, the RACV Solar Great Ocean Road Running Festival returned to Victoria’s southwest coast with a record-breaking 9,350 registered participants across nine events – the most the festival has seen in its 19-year history. The stellar turnout resulted in four sell-out distances, including the Ultra Marathon, RACV Solar Marathon and new 12km Trail Run which all hit capacity for the first time ever, and new course records in the Ultra Marathon and Cocobella 14km Paradise Run.
Alongside thousands of punters of all ages and abilities, some well-known Australians hit the pavement across the weekend including Acting Prime Minister and Geelong local, Richard Marles, champion long-distance runner, Steve Moneghetti, and AFL legend, Gary Ablett Junior.
Ballarat’s Toby Menday won the men’s RACV Solar Marathon in a time of 2:46:05, followed by Melbournians Bayden Westerweller and Tom Hall in second and third place, respectively. Geelong’s Sara Coulter was the first woman to cross the finish line in the 44km event in 3:06:05, smashing her second place time in the same event in 2022 by more than 40 seconds. Caitlin Duncan from Melbourne came in second place, whilst Danni Rogan from Ocean Grove rounded out the podium.
Following a new course record and third consecutive win in the Cocobella 14km Paradise Run on Saturday, Andre Waring took out the Brooks Half Marathon for the second year in a row with a time of 1:18:50. The first woman across the 23km finish line was Geelong’s very own Amy Fawcett, who completed the course in 1:30:49, with Richard Marles coming in at 2:08:54.
In an incredible feat, 2022 marathon winner, Dion Finocchiaro secured a new course record in the awe-inspiring Ultra Marathon with a time of 3:50:15, smashing Ash Watson’s 2019 record of 3:55:12 by almost five minutes. Perth’s Alice Hall won the women’s division in a time of 4:58:54.
The first athlete to cross the new 12km Trail Run finish line was Tasmania’s David Bailey, who raced against the clock to secure a time of 48:12. Tracey Austin from Melbourne was the first woman to complete the 12km distance, with a time of 59:53. The 6.5km Trail Run was won by Callum Settle in the men’s category with a time of 30:22. Mikaela Bentley from Geelong was the fastest female to complete the stunning track this year with a time of 36:49.
On Saturday, Sarah Klein joined Andre Waring as the winner of the 14km event in the women’s division with an impressive time of 45:08. Steve Moneghetti was not far behind, completing the course in 46:38. Christopher Dale and Katie Gamble topped the podium in the SriLankan Airlines 6km Run, and young running superstars and their families joined Gary Ablett Junior in the 1.5km Great Ocean Road Real Estate Holidays Kids’ Gallop, won by Matilda De Young and Harry Brennan.
Festival Director, Brad King, said: “We are thrilled to have delivered the biggest RACV Solar Great Ocean Road Running Festival in history with so many monumental firsts including record-breaking registrations, four sell-out events, two new course records, an incredible fundraising effort, and our most sustainable event delivery. This weekend would not have been possible without the support of the local communities, our amazing event volunteers, partners, sponsors, spectators, and of course, the thousands of inspiring participants who came out in force to help make history. Whether you were out on the courses, cheering from the sidelines, or helping behind the scenes, congratulations to all involved and thank you for your support. We can’t wait to be back in May 2024.”
Surf Coast Shire Mayor, Liz Pattison said: “The Great Ocean Road coastline is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, so this is an incredible opportunity for runners and walkers of all levels to push themselves and take in the stunning scenery of this magical place.”
In another festival first, this year marked the event’s most sustainable iteration to date by switching to solar energy with RACV Solar and elevating its existing environmental road map produced in collaboration with local waste management groups.
CEO of RACV Solar, Bill Bloodworth said, “RACV Solar would like to thank all the volunteers, participants and community members that made this year’s Festival a huge success. We were thrilled to see so many people put on their runners to experience the beautiful Great Ocean Road and what the Surf Coast has to offer. Over the course of the weekend, RACV Solar powered various festival elements. It’s all part of our commitment to helping Victorians transition to a cleaner energy future.”
This year, participants raised more than $150,000 for charities and causes close to their hearts – $50,000 over target.In addition to the spectacular running events, festival-goers lapped up free performances from local musicians, an immersive ‘glamping’ experience, free beach-side Yoga, an inflatable sports park for kids, and a high-flying kite festival across the two-day event. On Saturday, local wait staff also battled it out in the hilarious Pub to Pub Waiter’s Race.
The RACV Solar Great Ocean Road Running Festival will return Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 May 2024 with registrations now open. Head to greatoceanroadrunfest.com.au to secure presale prices.
For those seeking a quicker running fix, the Nike Melbourne Marathon Festival will take over the CBD, Sunday 15 October 2023. Registrations are now open via melbournemarathon.com.au
2023 RACV SOLAR GREAT OCEAN ROAD RUNNING FESTIVAL RESULTS
Ultra Marathon (60km)
Female: (1st) Alice Hall 4:58:54, (2nd) Tara Carson 5:00:25, (3rd) Kathleen Judge 5:06:40
Male: (1st) Dion Finocchiaro 3:50:15 *Course Record, (2nd) Theo Langlois 4:10:04, (3rd) Ben Harris 4:18:03
RACV Solar Marathon (44km)
Female: (1st) Sara Coulter 3:06:05, (2nd) Caitlin Duncan 3:11:32, (3rd) Danni Rogan 3:12:34
Male: (1st) Toby Menday 2:46:05, (2nd) Bayden Westerweller 2:46:21, (3rd) Tom Hall 2:47:28
Brooks Half Marathon (23km)
Female: (1st) Amy Fawcett 1:30:49, (2nd) Elise Beacom 1:31:15, (3rd) Ciara Sullivan 1:31:26
Male: (1st) Andre Waring 1:18:50, (2nd) Cameron Smith 1:21:52, (3rd) Simon Hogan 1:22:12
Cocobella 14km Paradise Run
Female: (1st) Sarah Klein 45:08, (2nd) Stella Radford 48:05, (3rd) Melissa Duncan 50:41
Male: (1st) Andre Waring 40:19 *Course Record, (2nd) Matthew Buckell 41:05, (3rd) Andrew Amor 41:14
12km Trail Run
Female: (1st) Tracey Austin 59:53, (2nd) Sally Lim 1:03:44, (3rd) Toni Doderico 1:04:06
Male: (1st) David Bailey 48:12, (2nd) Corentin Ardouin 50:13, (3rd) Noah Brown 51:59
6.5km Trail Run
Female: (1st) Mikaela Bentley 36:49, (2nd) Belinda Hadden 39:54, (3rd) Mathilda Jones-Bayley 40:26
Male: (1st) Callum Settle 30:22, (2nd) William Samios 35:57, (3rd) Eddie Carter 36:40
SriLankan Airlines 6km Run
Female: (1st) Katie Gamble 23:24, (2nd) Rebecca Gilmore 23:33, (3rd) Teyvia Williams 23:44
Male: (1st) Christopher Dale 18:01, (2nd) Evander Scott 19:25, (3rd) Paul Souter 21:25
1.5km Great Ocean Road Real Estate Holidays Kids’ Gallop
Female: (1st) Matilda De Young 06:04, (2nd) Laney Scott 06:14, (3rd) Shailee Mewha 06:26
Male: (1st) Harry Brennan 06:09, (2nd) Tommy Anderson 06:36, (3rd) Benjamin Hickingbotham 06:58