Race Report – Bondi to Manly Ultra – Fred Francis

Fred is one of our awesome physiotherapists at The Body Mechanic. He has been running for quite a few years, with his longest race being the UTA50. That was until he saw the Bondi to Manly event come on the scene, and being a local Sydneysider, he decided he needed to give it a crack.

80km was a bit outside of his comfort zone, but having already completed the UTA50, and knowing the Sydney-based course was a bit flatter, he thought he should be ok. 30km is quite a lot of "unknown territory" though, so this was going to be a good challenge.

Fred has been kind enough to share his thoughts and insights into the Bondi to Manly Ultra which will hopefully be helpful if you are planning to run it for the first time.


What made you want to do the Bondi to Manly Event?

I love that course! It links up some of my favourite running routes in Sydney. It is great to be by the water for most of the day. Along the way you pass hidden local beaches, and famous Sydney landmarks like the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. It is really cool to finish in Manly, there is a great atmosphere and you can reward yourself with a swim. There isn't really any other event like it.

What was your longest event before signing up for B2M?

UTA50. The B2M course is much flatter and quicker than running in the Blue Mountains. Although its longer, I think it's a comparable challenge to UTA50.

What type of training did you do for B2M? any stairs? lots of hills? any speedwork?

I was doing a combination of hills, stairs and steady state running in the lead up. There aren't many stairs on the course, and most of the hills are relatively short, but it was helpful to have a well-rounded training plan leading into it. Living in Sydney meant that it was very convenient to get out and train on the course.

Did anything on the course surprise you in terms of how hard it was?

The last 5km of the course includes the descent from the top of North Head down to Manly beach. I've run that section many times, and it isn't particularly technical. But with 70+ kms in the legs it definitely felt more challenging on the day!

Do you think you could or should do anything different in your training?

The weather can be a bit unpredictable at that time of year. I ran the first year - there had been a lot of rain in the lead-up, keeping training runs cool. On race day it got hot towards the middle of the day which I found quite difficult. It would be a good idea to try and plan some training in the middle of the day when it is hotter to get used to it.

How do you think it is best to pace the event? Is the effort pretty evenly spread or do you need to save lots of cookies for the trails in the second half?

My plan was to go out easy, get to the Harbour Bridge feeling good, and build into the effort on the second half of the race. But there are plenty of different ways you could approach it. If you're not too familiar with the course – the first half is mostly road where most runners will be a bit quicker, the second half has more trail, with some narrower sections where you'll likely run into more walkers which could slow your pace a bit.

Did they have many checkpoints and were they well stocked with food?

I was using my own nutrition, but from what I've heard they're well stocked. There are 4 main checkpoints, evenly spaced (roughly every 20kms). This is also where the relay teams change over, so they can get quite busy. For me, I found it helpful to get in, refill water and get out with as little fuss as possible. From memory there is also a mini checkpoint with coke, water and lollies just after Manly Wharf with roughly 10kms to go, a last stop before knocking out the North Head section.

Did you have a support crew, and was it easy for them to see you in multiple points on the course?

The support was amazing! Friends and family dropped in at different points through the day with food, sunblock, ginger ale and encouragement. It was also great to see Body Mechanic shirts through the day and I had the pleasure of running with a couple of clients!

If you're planning on having a support crew, it would be a good idea to try to get them to meet you away from aid stations, maybe just before or just after. They can be quite crowded, and I know parking was quite tricky at some of them.

Do you think it would be hard to try and run it without a support crew?

Definitely fine to run without crew. The aid stations are well spaced, there are places to fill up water all along the course and helpful volunteers. Running through the city means that you can always duck into a shop, pharmacy or cafe if you're in a pinch.

How did your race go and were you happy with the result?

The day started off great, everything ticked over nicely without any issues. In the final 15kms or so, a couple of things didn't go to plan, I struggled quite a bit in the heat, stacked it at Dobroyd Head and had trouble keeping food and water down. But overall, awesome vibes, heaps of fun and learnt a lot. Keen for another crack this year!

Do you have any pearls of wisdom we haven't covered in these questions that might help someone in their first B2M ultra?

One of the things that I think makes this event unique is that a lot of the course is on popular public walkways. Expect some narrow sections and a bit of congestion from time to time. My experience was that everyone was overwhelmingly friendly and considerate. Passers-by were cheering, high fiving and offering me snacks! Enjoy it! Its part of what made the day really fun. "Passing on your right thanks!" was helpful.

Bondi to Manly Training Plan

Bondi to manly race report


To help you have an awesome Bondi to Manly Ultra or Relay event, we have created  a 16 week training plan.

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