After a sensational win at the Surf Coast Century 100km Ultra Marathon in 2018, Ballarat's Ash Watson is looking to go one better.
The 30-year-old is set to defend his crown this Saturday at the gruelling event held near Anglesea. But winning isn't all Watson has on his mind. He hopes to shave over 16 minutes off last year's time and finish the race in under eight hours.
"Last year I lost eight minutes taking a wrong turn," he told The Courier.
"So I think this year, if I don't take any wrong turns and everything goes well, I should be close to achieving it.
"I think it's a nice number, and it's good to have some sort of goal, but of course my number one goal is to try and win the race."
Watson won in record time last year to claim the crown in a time of 8 hours, 16 minutes and 50 seconds to eclipse the previous best time by 28 seconds. He said his body was feeling as good if not better this time around.
"I loved the event last year, so I was hoping to be able to get back this year and the preparation has gone well so I think I should go okay," he said.
This year's race will be somewhat of a farewell for Watson who intends to step away from the sport after the race to concentrate on family life. He said 2019 may be the last real chance he gets to eclipse the eight-hour mark.
"I just think it's an achievable time, and I'm not sure if I'll get another opportunity because I've just had a daughter," he said.
"The training involved is pretty demanding, so this will be my last chance at a real crack before i ease the training off and get into family life."
Last year marked the first ultra marathon victory for Watson who first took up running marathons as a 21-year-old. He said he will need to run a tactical race to win the event, some of which is run on sand and potentially waist-deep water.
"The back-half of the course is tough, you've really got to be quite sensible in the first 50 kilometers," he said.
"So I'll try and be a little conservative, knowing the last section is where it gets quite tough and hilly."
More than 400 runners are expected to compete in the race which is entering its eighth year. Battling potentially wet conditions, runners will make their way from Anglesea to Torquay, along the Surfcoast walk before finishing back in Anglesea.
"I'm sure there will be some very good runners in there, there always is. But I'll just go in with the focus of running my own race and hopefully run around the eight hour mark," Watson said.
Despite the challenge that lies ahead of him, Watson said he wasn't nervous and he just had to focus on himself.
"I'm not putting too much pressure on myself, I've just got my goal in mind which I think is achievable," he said.
"I just need to be patient and focus on myself."