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TROUBLE IN ADELAIDE (FAR FROM PARADISE)

September 16, 2013

Running events to this point have been relatively smooth sailing, most aspects have proceeded without hitches and the experience has generally been positive. Sadly venturing into Adelaide for the time honoured City-Bay Fun Run provided a first that many don’t want to know about. For an event that has taken place annually for the 41st year in 2013, sadly there are inaugural events that have proven to be more enjoyable.

Normally I post a video of the start on Facebook so the masses can wake up to my ramblings. Well this time I recorded another spiel about nothing on the way to the start area, but it was so long it had to be put on YouTube.

 

All of my gripes have to do with the organisation of the event on the day. There was nothing wrong with, nor too difficult about the run itself. For a city that hosts the Tour Down Under Cycling event travelling along the route at least gives me an idea of the long straight roads that the peloton uses to their advantage to chase down breakaway riders. The bulk of the 12km course is relatively flat and save for a couple of corners at the start and a few turns at Glenelg heading into the finish line, a giant straight line. Along the main 12km course were starting areas for the shorter 6km and 3km events, all of whom hadn’t started their journey by the time I was refuelling at a local yoghurt establishment. For those chasing a personal best time, this would be an ideal course to achieve this, but timing proved to be one of the major issues this year.

In terms of organisation, at least there was a baggage truck and I made sure I was early enough to use the facility, but that’s where the positives virtually ended. While many start lines blast music and make announcements, the quality of the music made me glad I kept the iPod plugged in for as long as possible, whilst the bloke on the PA system had a voice that makes Bill Shorten sound as entertaining as Billy Crystal at an Oscars ceremony.

There didn’t seem to be as many volunteers at the start line as opposed to other events, and those that were at the start line probably were let down by a lack of a briefing on what goes on. My experiences at start areas from this year has the start gantry assembled close to 2 hours before the event was due to start. When I arrived at the start line 90 minutes before the elite runners set off to Glenelg, the starting bridge was still being inflated well out of position which seemed to be a little odd. Later as the main wave of runners were assembling for the start, nobody was around to ensure that a group of university runners carting a skeleton on a stretcher with wheels was redirected to an area where they would be safe. Then as we finally approached the start area, someone tried to rope off the area before quickly realising the error. It’s these types of incidents that would make runners anxious and/or angry, although my emotion was more of annoyance that another hold up was taking place without necessity.

There were 4 official drink stations along the route with crowding again a minor problem, I even skipped the last drink station given the crowds around the table. What made me take notice was a couple of unofficial stations that sought to provide some relief. I’m certain I wasn’t the only person at the 7km mark to take advantage of the group handing out half cut ice blocks, I’m also certain I wasn’t the only person a kilometre later to raise an eyebrow at a person looking to sell drinks along the route. Perhaps he was looking to target walkers from the shorter distances to make his small profit, for many 12km competitors would not have been carrying currency before reaching Glenelg. Or maybe that explains just why I felt I had to avoid a record number of walkers towards the end of the run, which I am certain cost me an even better finishing time. At least my unofficial timing mechanism (the trusty app on the iPod) was working well, for the official system malfunctioned at the start line meaning the only runners who would get an accurate time would be the elite runners. According to my timer the run was covered in 57:26, although the official results page will add approximately 24 minutes onto the time. For an event where many of the 12km runners are running for time rather than just for being a number at the start line, it’s an utter embarassment and there have been a few facebook posts on their page that share this sentiment.

The finishing area was not total chaos, but it would be as close as you would get. Getting past the finish line and through the finish chutes were OK, but the dramas came at the Powerade table where dozens were congregated to replace fluids as you must in such events. There were a couple of problems I saw with this, one of which was that I prefer Gatorade to Powerade because of the stronger taste (perceptions are everything, perhaps I should have skipped the table knowing I had a bottle in my baggage). The major concern was that the line was very slowly moving, although calling it a line would be stretching the truth, it was more like a scrum. Despite the efforts of a poor soul

First SQUARE medal I have recieved for anything.

First SQUARE medal I have recieved for anything.

encouraging us to move further down, the fact that I was stuck in the pack between 5 others with no way of getting through to reach the back tables made it impossible for myself and several others to follow his instructions. Other events have barriers that at least formulate some manner of order to procedings, but this was a free for all. I’m sure the organisers will blame the narrow bayside streets but maybe putting a temporary fence or barricade wouldn’t take up half a street. At least the medallion (stuck in a bag buried beneath a coupon book featuring the ticket to return to the city) looked the part, unique in that unlike the other medals shown in previous posts this one is square much like what FINA gives to the swimmers at their world championships these days.

Whether I will make a return appearance for this event is debatable. With the usual timing and cost issues being a common factor in interstate trips, the shoddy organisation on race day could well see me look elsewhere for events. There is a silver lining for the whole event, as the 12km has doubled as a training run. I have made entries for a local half-marathon on NRL Grand Final weekend, before the full Melbourne Marathon a week later (I was going to do the half-marathon but entries for that event sold out, it was pointless heading south just for a 10km and there was no field limit for the marathon itself). Now it’s a case of ensuring the logistics for both events are organised and the training levels maintained as October is not that far away.

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