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October 14, 2013

For the purposes of this blog today, I have decided to split this into two parts. Perhaps it will be easier to read, maybe it makes it easier to apologise to everyone for being such a tease. However such is the tale that can be told from the entire event that it makes sense to do it this way.

Wake up time was at 3:30AM, which this week was actually the CORRECT time. Those who read my previous post will realise the error of assuming what time it was at the start of the dreaded Daylight Savings period will know I needed to learn from this error. I was conscious of turning up to the start area as early as possible, knowing that it would take half an hour’s walking to reach clothing drop, and at least another 5 minutes stocking up on fuel supplies (don’t worry, I don’t sniff the petrol) at the good old 7-Eleven which unlike Perth was located in every second street in Melbourne’s CBD.

I did get away from the motel a little later than anticipated or planned, yet I still knew I had ample time for all that I needed to do. This included showering, attaching the bib to the running top, applying the support garments to the legs (although I didn’t attach insulation tape to ensure the calf Skins would not fall to the ankles like they did in Adelaide. Turned out I didn’t have to worry), slipping on the warm weather gear over the top of the running attire, applying the zinc cream (yellow this time rather than the normal white), and finally making sure the electronic devices were fully charged before attaching the iPod to the arm to listen to some tunes on the way.

The morning was in comparison to Central Queensland conditions rather frigid, although the cold didn’t affect ex-Melbourneites such as myself. It probably wouldn’t have made a difference if I only wore half of my warm weather clothing too, for unlike many northern colleagues I can put up with a little cold weather. As I ventured down Russell Street I was actually a little more worried than normal that someone would attack, but nobody even bothered me on my way. Perhaps they were more concerned with the rubbish dump that materialised outside a 24 hour Hungry Jacks necessitating a temporary closure as their outlet was cleaned. Maybe they were more worried about securing a taxi as the case is just about every Saturday Night in the city. There was a slight worry when I reached the Federation Square/Flinders Street station corner as officials were setting up part of the course, but gaps in the fence at a crossing ensured I would move on with ease.

There wasn’t a massive crowd in the bowels of the MCG as I arrived to drop off clothing, as expected when it was 5:30AM with the bulk of the field trying to reach the city without public transport options. Being alone you do notice the diverse nature of such fields, three-quarters of those who were there when I arrived were asian, and when I left I noticed a mini bus full of the elite Kenyans who would as usual go on to dominate proceedings. But there were a few true blue Aussies in the area as well, many of them who would have pounded these pavement paths several times before.

It was a slow move towards the start area, which was a short walk across the footbridge at Batman Avenue, a stone’s throw from Rod Laver Arena which for the international readers is best known as the venue where Grand Slam tennis dreams are realised every January. A quick stretch adjacent to the MCG nets was my immediate focus, and flexible thinking was the key as I lunged my way across the bridge. I didn’t do a lot once on the other side, a quick sit down to adjust the shoelaces and a little hop across the road for a peep at the Yarra River to clear the mind was all I wanted to do.

With 20 minutes to go it was time to pick out a starting spot. Almost every event now has timing systems that activate upon a competitor crossing the timing mats at the start line, so starting towards the front of the field isn’t necessary unless you wanted 5 minutes of fame on the hour-long highlights package shown at a later date. I positioned myself near the 4 hour pace runners, given my goal for the event was to beat them. The minutes counted down as the PA announcers declared this the biggest field ever in the event with over 8000 starters, then minutes became seconds.

And at 7AM sharp, on the morning of the 14th of October 2013, a bang from the starters gun signified the beginning of the journey, a journey that would personally begin a minute later……


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