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Just plain good fun

The scene just after Avoca Lagoon was opened to
the ocean on an earlier occasion.

I wasn't going to write a blog post today, but I enjoyed this morning's run so much, I wanted to recount the adventure.  To the north and south of Terrigal, from where the Trotters run at 6:00am every Saturday morning, are two coastal lagoons, Wamberal and Avoca.  Most of the time, they are separated from the ocean by sandbars, but occasionally they are open to the sea.  Following heavy rains and/or in very stormy conditions they sometimes open naturally, but if the lagoons get too high, the local councils (or, occasionally, enterprising kids with shovels) deliberately open them.

This morning's run, Avoca Amphitheatre, crossed the Avoca Lagoon mouth twice.  I knew the lagoon had been opened by the council a week or so earlier, but hadn't actually run that way since.  I also knew it was a full moon night, so the tides were likely to be high.  And, to make it more interesting, it was very dark and raining as we set out for the 11km run, with the sun not due to rise for another hour.

The front page picture in the Central Coast Express
Advocate Newspaper earlier this week was of the
just opened Wamberal Lagoon mouth.

A number of the runners, including me, were wearing headlamps in the pitch darkness as we approached the lagoon mouth in single file along the bordering trail.  On arriving at the channel it was comical to see the lights and shadows of runners swarming, like a flock of small birds, as they examined first one place and then another as possible crossing points.  It was absolutely impossible to determine the water depth in the darkness, and I headed towards the ocean opening where experience had taught me it was likely to be shallower.  To my right, I could pick out one earlier runner already halfway across in chest-depth water while most others milled on the bank to watch.  I plunged into the water nearer the breaking surf and found it wasn't nearly as shallow as I had expected.  Soon the water was above my waist and breaking waves were occasionally washing over my left shoulder as I struggled on in the turbulent water.  Nearer the other side, the channel was even deeper and very fast flowing as the incoming tide sought to fill the empty lagoon.  It was a struggle to keep my feet, but I made it across and was joined by a few other runners before we set off through Avoca Beach for the remainder of the run.

It was an exhilarating experience, and not really dangerous, so long as you were prepared to swim with your shoes on if you lost your footing.  I think I was running on adrenalin for the balance of the run, including the recrossing of the channel which was easier in the pre-dawn light.

I know that many Trotters turned around rather than risk the channel crossing, and everybody needs to make their own safety judgments.  But for me, one of the joys of running is dealing with whatever terrain or weather is encountered.  It yields a sense of empowerment and satisfaction, as well as being just plain good fun.