In this edition of Grass Roots, our very own Stef Hanson is heading home to the Apple Isle where a spectacular new half distance race is set to take place.
This time, I’m taking you back to my grass roots. That’s right, we’re heading south to the Apple Isle. So bring your shorts and thongs, your beanie and your jacket, because you never know what you’re going to get in Tasmania. In saying that, the Coles Bay Half is set in one of the most beautiful places in the world. A stone’s throw from the Freycinet National Park and picture perfect Wineglass Bay, February in Coles Bay is the perfect time of year for a race and the perfect opportunity to explore the wilderness while you’re there.
I grew up in Tasmania, which meant I never used to appreciate the magical destinations that Tasmania had to offer – no one ever explores their own backyard, do they? I used to camp with friends up the East Coast, which was awesome and holds some very fond memories, however, despite always being the sporty type, I was never really into general fitness. Give me a bat and/or a ball, and you’d keep me entertained for hours, but ask me to go for a bush walk or a run? Forget about it. So while I spent a lot of time up there with friends, I never really appreciated its beauty until I grew up. Now anytime I head back to the homelands, I take people there. It truly is stunning. So when I found out that there was a triathlon in Coles Bay, so close to Freycinet, one of my favourite places in the world, it was a given. Mark it in the diary, I’m heading home, and I’m hoping to convince a few ‘mainlanders’ to come with me.
The Coles Bay Half was introduced in 2006 after a few triathletes chose that area as their training location. It was originally held as a club event and from there it sprouted into the Coles Bay 100. On February 16th, 2013, the event takes another step forward to become the Coles Bay Half. Participation has increased each year by 20 per cent as word gets out that this small town on the East Coast of Tasmania is a place you need to visit. Each year it has been attracting more and more interstaters, and for the past two years it has been voted the state’s best triathlon. One of the organisers, Louise Padgett said, “We are expecting a large increase in both quality and quantity. With a teams option, a sprint event and now other supporting events, we are excited to see how
big it can become.”
Her husband, Mark, who is also on the organising committee described his training there.
“Swimming in the ocean is fantastic. Swimming amongst the fish is so surreal. The stingrays and Port Jackson sharks don’t bite, they just look tough. But they certainly help me swim a bit faster as they get the adrenalin going. The running is picturesque and varied. In training you can run through the four wheel drive bush tracks, the beaches, and single tracks - just fantastic.”
In previous years, the race has attracted well-known triathletes and locals Joe Gambles, Amelia Pearson, James Hodge and Holly Ransom. This time around the crew from Hahn Super Dry Team Latitude, including Tim Berkel, Mitch Anderson, Matty White, and possibly Nic Ward, have put it on their race calendar. This team’s focus is to assist in the building and publicity of smaller “niche” races. Plus, they want to help give young athletes like Laura Harris a start at races that are sometimes hard to get to because of costs. Their philosophy is focussed on giving back to the sport while having a great weekend away, and the Coles Bay Half ticks all the boxes. Team creator Guy Besley will more than likely be the one handing out beers at the finish line. That’s another box ticked. James Boags? Cascade? Yes, please.
The Swim: Bring your wetsuit. It might look magical, even tropical. But expect temperatures
of around 18C in Great Oyster Bay. Athletes will complete two laps of the triangular course before heading back to shore, running up the beach and into transition.
The Bike: Tassie might make you think of hills, but on this course there is only one short and sharp hill athletes will have to tackle twice over this two-lap, 90km course. Other than that, it’s head down and gluteus maximus up as you time trial your way along Coles Bay Road. Riders must take caution though, as the roads won’t be completely closed to traffic.
The Run: It’s flat, but don’t expect it to be easy. There’s a combination of beach running and road running on this four-lap course, which is perfect for your loved ones to spot you more than once.
After flying into Hobart or Launceston, driving time to Coles Bay is 2.5-3 hours. Airfares can range from $40-$300 one way, but there is always a deal on offer. Buses are available from Launceston and Hobart, but you will need to book in advance because of your bike. We suggest hiring a car.
Spirit of Tasmania
If you don’t want to fly, the Spirit of Tasmania might be the answer. A friend of mine described it as “a holiday in itself” – that may be because he spent the entire time in the buffet (nine hours of eating is an impressive effort). If you take this option, keep in mind that it is approximately nine hours of sailing, plus approximately 3.5 hours of driving from Devonport to Coles Bay. If you take the night sailing option, you will want a bed for the night, so remember, that will cost you more than what you see on the advertisements. Day
trips in February depart Sundays and Mondays.
There are plenty of holiday houses for rent, or
you can go for the holiday park option or perhaps even a campsite. Could the Coles Bay Half be the ‘Wildflower’ of Australia? You can also stay in a neighbouring towns, such as Swansea. It’s a late race start, so it’s not like you have to be within throwing distance of transition.
If you’re driving to Coles Bay, here are a couple of pit stops you might want to consider.
Kate’s Berry Farm
If you’re coming from Hobart, it’s on the way. From Launceston it’s only a slight detour.
Kate’s Berry Farm The scones here are as tasty as Gran’s and as big as your head, with a long list of jams to go with them. If Devonshire is not your, well, cup of tea, there’s always the ice-cream/gelato made with super fresh berries. To top it all off, you can sit outside and gaze at the horizon where the trees frame Freycinet on the other side of Great Oyster Bay and relax knowing that you’re almost there.
If you’re coming from Hobart, it’s on the way. From Launceston it’s only a slight detour.12 Addison St, Swansea
(03) 6257 8428www.katesberryfarm.com
If you’re coming from Launceston or Devonport, it’s worth detouring on your way to Coles Bay. It means you’ll spend more time driving on the coast, but it also means you can stop at Elephant Pancakes. They do savoury and sweet crepes that are worth going out of your way for. It’s elephants! It’s pancakes! What more do you want?
Elephant Pass between St. Marys & Bicheno
(03) 6372 2263