Chevron CityToSurf Marathon – Perth – Strategy, plan and tips for newbies

If you are an accomplished marathon runner you can continue surfing the internet somewhere else… this is not for you! But if it will be your first time running C2S Perth, maybe your first marathon, keep reading.

My background: more than 10 marathons (including 2 Boston), and 5 years of running and triathlon racing. Not a pro, but with that compelling felling to share with fellow runners and amateur athletes.

C2S is not the easiest course for a beginner. Hopefully by now you know that the first half is fairly flat, while the second has rolling hills. Check the course map in PDF. There is also a course profile at the bottom that sort of shows 3 hills. Be warned that it is a bit more hillier than that. Especially, the hill on Underwood after Selby doesn’t seem as hard and sharp in the profile as it will be during the race.

So here are some tips (probably why you’re still reading…)

General marathon and racing tips:

  • Make a race plan or strategy
  • Stick to your plan
  • Believe in your training
  • Have a plan B in case of bad weather
  • Start slow, never faster than your goal average pace
CityToSurf marathon and racing tips:
  • Seed yourself with runners of similar or slightly slower ability.
  • If you have a GPS, turn it on early. Sometimes in the city it takes a long time to find the satellites.
  • Do a few short quick runs up and down St Georges Tce to warm up. Focus, and don’t spend too much time talking to friends. There will be time for that during the race.
  • The race will start slightly downhill for the first 3 km. You’ll feel that you can go faster than planned, and the adrenaline rush of the start gun and faster runners will drag you a pace that will be much faster than your planned goal. AVOID THIS AT ALL COST!
  • After the downhill start, the first half of the marathon is fairly flat. Try to maintain a constant pace. Don’t go faster. You’ll need the energy and strength later. Pay attention to your GPS or your splits. Don’t try to catch up with anybody going faster than your planned pace. There will be plenty of time for that, provided that you have some juice left during the second half.
  • Don’t skip any water stations, even the first. As a rule, I start drinking as soon as I can. I don’t carry water with me, only gels. So I alternate water or electrolyte if possible at every station.
  • Hopefully you stayed put and reached the city in good rested shape. Now you enter a steady climb towards Kings Park. Here is where you need to forget about speed, and think about cadence. Maybe a bit shorter steps, a bit slower but steady pace. You’ll give away some time but you’ll reach the top in good shape and air in your lungs.
  • Km markers are always an issue for me. Maybe I’m too in my own world of running, or checking my GPS… sometimes it feels like they are just not there. I rely 100% on my GPS. Be careful if you only have a stopwatch, because especially during the second half, the km markers disappear!
  • Be careful going downhill in Kings Park. There’s one “steep” downhill stretch where you will be tempted to earn back some seconds. This is hard on your quads, so be very careful and don’t hurt your legs! Finishing the inside KP stretch is one of the toughest parts because it has a steady climb towards the top so be ready for that.
  • When you exit KP, things look quite different. You get a good long breather to recover and build up to the rolling hills going down to the cost.
  • Be ready for the Underwood Hill. It’s tough.
  • And your last hill on Oceanic Dr… It’s all about survival. And here is where you are using all the energy you saved during the first half.
  • After Oceanic and Kalinda Dr, you start coasting down to the finish. But don’t sprint it yet, because when you turn on West Coast Hwy, you still have several 100’s m to go. You see the finish line, but it is still far. Cheering crowds will make your finish experience worth it all.
And some final, personal, general tips:
  • Never try something new during the marathon. 90% chance it will go wrong.
  • Check the weather the day before the race
  • If it is going to be very cold (come on! Perth cold is never too cold…!) or rainy, have a large rubbish plastic bag with a hole cut out and an old toss away shirt. DON’T OVER-DRESS THOUGH. It’s awful when in desperation you toss away that nice expensive dry fit long sleeve shirt…
  • Dress light and comfortable. Temperature usually reaches the 20’s so it will get warmer during the race.
  • Travel light. I’m a minimalist. I rely on the water stations for water and electrolyte. I only carry gel in little shotz plastic bottles, usually one in my hand and one in a tri top pocket
  • I carry a very small towel to wipe the sweat from my forhead before it gets into my eyes. Sweat in my eyes drives me crazy and can ruin my day.
  • Cap, sleeveless dri fit shirt or tri top, short or long compression tights and/or compression calf sleeves (depending on weather/temperature forecast)
  • GPS, is essential for me. Charge it!
  • Print your splits and remember to put it with your running stuff
  • Night before, lay out all your gear. Does it look like there’s too much stuff? Your probably not travelling light then… Re-think how much stuff you really need…
  • Go to bed early.
  • Eat a reasonable carboload dinner without stuffing yourself with crappy food.
  • Avoid alcohol as much as possible… And all junk food that wont help during the event (junk food, fried, crazy spicy ethnic food, etc)
  • Drink plenty of water and some gatorade and or electrolyte
  • Wake up in the middle of the night to top up your tank with a few carbs and protein and electrolyte. And go straight back to bed.
  • Stop drinking after this. You don’t want to have to stop several times to pee during the race
  • eat a very light breakfast (or none), with little or no fluids (that works for me)
  • 30 minutes before the race, eat a gel, or a bit of your favorite solid fuel
Well by now you have so many tips that you probably forgot about the most important stuff: start slow, stick to the plan, and believe in your training.

2 comments on “Chevron CityToSurf Marathon – Perth – Strategy, plan and tips for newbies

  1. Thanks for all your tips, I know they will help. I did the Perth marathon in June, my 1st, and this will be my 2nd. I am doing it with my daughter who wanted to share the experience with me, and I know this one is much harder. Looking forward to the day and will take everything you have said on board.

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