Megan is a trail runner, and was looking forward to a hassle-free trot in Royal National Park at the Coastal Classic for months. That’s not exactly what she got, but she did get a big helping of satisfaction.


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Dharawal people who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.


Early one Saturday, four of us stood shivering in a car park below the Bundeena Bowls Club. We joined a throng huddled out of the pelting rain, a mob linked together by their waterproof jackets, colourful vest packs, and long socks, this gorgeous fashion complemented by the pungent scent of Deep Heat.

Years earlier a friend recommended the Coastal Classic, a 30km trail run following the coastline from Otford to Bundeena in the Royal National Park.

‘It’s amazing’, she said, ‘the views, the beaches, the atmosphere.’

My attempts to run it in the years since had been ruined by COVID, as I was squeezed out of the race by restricted numbers.

My Time to Shine – But Not The Sun’s

Then finally, the world began to open up. I got a place in the September 2022 event and pitched this article to We Are Explorers with an email saying, ‘With a bit of luck it’ll also be a piece about actually running an event to plan, without cancellations and postponements caused by COVID or bad weather…’



Ah, the irony. As anyone living in Sydney knows, this year’s weather hasn’t been perfect for making up for lost time. After the city’s wettest start to the year ever, mushrooms were growing from the window sills in my bathroom and leeches were performing their freaky dance on the loungeroom ceiling.

Down at the Otford end of the Coast Track, landslips and their aftermath shut the trail. The Coastal Classic changed from a one-way race into a ‘there-and-back’ run from Bundeena, and the Max Adventure crew went into overdrive to make it happen at all.

Still, the event was happening! This was something to celebrate as masses of races had been cancelled due to track closures and terminal sogginess.

And after the last few years, I feel exceptionally lucky whenever I actually pull something off. In 2021 I was smiling for the whole seven hours I spent running the UTA 50 (a 50km trail run in the Blue Mountains), slogging up and down hills, floating around cliffs and down never-ending fire trails.



I was thoroughly stoked that I was there – finally getting to run seemed like the most amazing achievement of all.

The lead up to September’s Coastal Classic wasn’t ideal. Weeks of having a cold turned into a sinus infection I couldn’t shake and my second round of antibiotics finished a few days before the event.

On the night before the run, I sat with my twin sister, fresh in from Brisbane.

‘The weather doesn’t look too bad’, I told her, looking at the forecast. ‘Cold and a bit showery.’

Then I realised I hadn’t refreshed the page, and was looking at an old forecast.

‘Scrap that – it’s going to be horrible,’ I said, setting my alarm for 5.30 am and turning stale bread into tomorrow’s Vegemite sandwich.

Race Day Baby!

By 5.45am we were on the road, four of us sandwiched into a surprisingly roomy Mini. The day outside looked terrible. But we didn’t quite realise the grimness of the weather until we were in it, the wind howling around our legs as we waited for the bus to take us from the train station to the start line.

Half an hour later, emerging from the warm fug of the bus, it was worse. Runners huddled under shelter like clumps of seaweed at low tide. COVID distancing was forgotten as we crowded outside the toilets, in the undercover car park and bus shelters.



The commentator had a tough job, standing in the pissing rain on the first day of spring, trying to psych up a frozen field of shaking runners.

Eventually, the race began and we set off across soggy beaches and sandy tracks. The wind howled in my face as I ran across sandstone cliffs that dropped straight into the ocean below.

Instead of falling, rain was blown up from cliff edges and hurled in my eyes in an inverted waterfall. I stayed well clear of any drops, but a couple of times stray gusts blew me off the narrow boardwalk into scratchy scrub.

Still, my excited grin was plastered on – despite being snotty and unfit, the track closed, the route altered, the weather foul, I was doing it! And I felt alive.



On the way back the wind was behind me, the track a dodgem field of runners in both directions.

The field was more spread out though, so there was more space to enjoy the wildness of the setting and the weather. Staggered headlands disappeared into the clouds; on a beach, an abandoned deckchair issued an empty invite under a swollen grey sky.

After close to three hours, I ran through the inflated victory arch and straight into warm, dry clothes. I felt good; really good.

As I scoffed bananas and guzzled electrolytes, I was left with the tough questions; Did I feel like coffee or beer? What was the best bakery on the way home? And which of the people waiting for the bus had pushed themselves a little too hard and should be avoided on the windy ride back to the car?

Later, in front of the fire at home, I knew that if there hadn’t been an event I wouldn’t have gone: that I would’ve stayed inside all day, bored and frustrated but warm and dry.

Instead, I’d crammed a weekend adventure into a wet morning and blown weeks’ worth of cooped-up energy out of my system.

I can only imagine how good the Coastal Classic must be when the entire track is open and the sun is shining. Perhaps next year?