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September 10, 2013

Any budding athlete will ramble on ad nausea about meticulous preparation. Everything from the time they sleep the night before a big run right to what time they commence their post race recovery is often timed to the minute to the point of obsession. Whilst I often like to perform a routine and try as best as possible to stick with it, there are times when circumstances that are beyond my control where this can’t happen, but blame on just why the routine needs to be altered can certainly be placed.

Sadly for the organisers of this year’s Bridge2Brisbane, an event well established in the fabric of Brisbane for over a decade, Sunday will not go down as one of their prouder organisational moments. This had nothing to do with the route of their 10km course with the reasonably flat trek save for the rise up the Gateway Bridge and a small uphill section just over 2km from the end providing enough of a challenge to make this run beyond the basic level of difficulty. Nor did this have anything to do with the after race festivities, although I doubt those arriving at the RNA Showgrounds would have been persuaded to stay for 4 hours just to see if they MAY have won a car. Instead it was transport that proved to be the major issue, more so getting the bulk of the 24000 starters  to the starting area on time.

It all seemed simple enough to read on the timetable, arrive at the train station at a certain time, hop on a train to Murrarie station and walk the 800m or so to the starting area. Unfortunately for those wanting a half decent warm-up whilst catching public transport, the first train didn’t arrive into the city loop until 4:55AM with a scheduled final arrival time of 5:15 meaning any type of proper dynamic warm-up was virtually impossible. Trains were then scheduled to run every 5 minutes or so with the intention of ferrying participants to the start area, but confidence slowly eroded with the announcements of the first 2 trains being virtually full and the recommendation to wait for another train. What made it worse was that the 3rd train was originally thought to be empty, but this was full not more than 3 minutes later with just enough room to cram on a few passengers.

The carriage I was standing in was at full capacity as the train stopped at each station before Murrarie with desperate passengers running on the platform in an effort to find space in another car a common theme. By the time we reached Murrarie, the train that was scheduled to be at this station by 6:25 arrived 20 minutes late, thanks to at least 15 minutes of non-movement  between the last 2 stations on the line. It meant that the 800m walk to the starting area for many became almost a sprint, if not a last-minute jogging warm-up uphill. For me the terrain of the final walk to the start area thought my chances of a decent time were dashed. It may have been made worse by the look at the starting area for our wave with several runners inside a fenced area and many like myself outside. However I was comforted by the fact that I knew the fence had to end somewhere with the start area around an intersection with on and off ramps to the Gateway Motorway.

The run itself was reasonably flat save for the initial rise up the Gateway Bridge (named after Sir Leo Hielscher who was a long serving public servant from my research), and a short rise after the 8km mark. The second rise was the killer last year when I participated in the 5km event whose course covers the majority of the second half of the 10km (as you’d expect!). Like most other events traffic was an issue dodging between slower runners and walkers, but I was given self reassurance by the presence of a so-called pace runner which many try to follow to get a target time.

My target time for the event was a sub-50 minute effort, which given previous form over 10km courses was achievable. That said the courses for the other 10km events were closer to 100% flat (certainly in the case of the run at Robina in May this year). Everything was going to plan for the majority of the run even though I felt I was going a little too quickly off the bridge itself. Sadly the last km proved to be a killer which can be attributed to concentrating on the slight uphill section with 2km to run. It seemed as though I couldn’t raise a final sustained sprint which was in my pre-race thinking, and instead I could only raise the tempo once into the finish chute. For once my personal timing system (a Nike run app on my iPod Nano) proved to be 100% accurate, or more to the point the timing of my activation and de-activation was perfect. Confirmation came later that afternoon that my final time was 50:10, which based on last years 5km time of 27 minutes could be seen as improvement. Yet there was a feeling of unfufillment rather than disappointment, largely because I felt I didn’t finish the run as well as I should have.

As is the custom for this event, instead of getting a medal each finisher recieved a sponsor supplied Sunday Newspaper and a t-shirt. There were minimal differences from the shirts when they are compared, with the denotation of being a finisher written inside a footprint for 2013 present as opposed to a simple written “I FINISHED” on the back of the 2012 version. There will be times when I will use this as either a training shirt or an old shirt used for household chores so certainly I will find this “prize” useful as opposed to being a simple ornament suitable for cabinets and not much else. I also picked up a sponsors bucket hat which I may use later in the year for non-running purposes, although I probably should have picked up a free pair of thongs (that’s flip-flops for those overseas) as well.

With the next running event this weekend (Adelaide’s City-Bay Fun Run) there are a few that may say that this event was a training run given the Adelaide event covers an extra 2km. But this would downplay how popular the Bridge2Brisbane really is. Close to 40000 competitors from around Australia covered either the 5 or 10km journey and this continues to increase year after year. Whether the transport authorities can keep up with the rising demand will continue to be a challenge for the future. Certainly a third appearance for me is on the priority list, if only to break personal goals.

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