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THERE’S NOTHING LIKE A LOCAL EVENT

May 30, 2014

I’m sure the loyal readers in Australia have either heard the late Peter Allen’s song “I Still Call Australia Home” or at least have seen countless Qantas ads over the years. I can relate to the early lines, I have been to cities all over Australia that have never closed down, from Melbourne to Sydney and old Brisbane town (where I’ll be in 3 weeks time). But there’s something special and different about taking part in an event in your own backyard, especially when the course almost literally passes your front doorstep.

I was pleased to be a part of the Rocky River Run for the second successive year last weekend, an event that many local scribes and everyday common folk have got behind. When it started in 2008 there were 300 loyal souls that seemed to start a tradition, for this year across the many events comprising the morning there were close to 3000. It was chaotic in such a good way that the traffic was everywhere when I was looking for my transport to carry me to my other commitments later that day, but that’s far from the story you all want to hear!

Last year I tested myself over the 10km course and broke 50 minutes, but this year I decided that in keeping with my long term goals for 2014 and the fact that I needed to be on a plane at a time where running the 10km event would not leave enough time to get organised and transported to the airport, that distance would be too short for my liking. The lack of distance and a date clash also meant that the event I attended in Perth last year (Run for a Reason) was ruled out for 2014, although a trip to Perth for their City2Surf on the last Sunday of August MAY be on the agenda. Thankfully the 21km event was early enough in the morning (6:15AM start) and was at a decent distance for me to achieve all the goals for the day. Training for this was surprisingly positive, for I had reached 20km in a couple of runs in the weeks leading up to this, and a little course reconnaissance on Friday morning topped me off nicely.

The conditions though different were not too concerning for my liking. It wasn’t the first time that I had undertaken physical activity in foggy weather for I had umpired some Under 13 matches in recent years that started beneath a thick cover of fog. Compared to those mornings the fog wasn’t too bad to run in, visibility was more than reasonable even if some of the roads lacked a little traction. In hindsight though perhaps the blue zinc may have been too much even though it made identification for the many photos on course easier, and the sunglasses were of little use apart from a short section early in the event.

Much like the Run Sydney event, it turned out that I had made a nice plan to find a group and stick to their pace for the duration. Initially I had joked to some footy team mates that I was going to beat a person associated from a rival club (turned out I did pretty easily). But much like Canberra I was pleased that I was setting a good tempo with a trio that looked to be going within themselves. At the end of the first lap, this being a 2 lap course for the 21km runners, our group was virtually altogether with no person looking like faltering. I even managed a little kick at the start of lap 2, if only to set a little tempo for a few kilometres.

Eventually I managed to lose contact with the group at the midpoint of the second lap, but not before I did something on a run course for the very first time. One of the drink stations on a grass section of the course (based at the Norbridge Park junior soccer facility) was situated at a right hand turn. Thinking I could keep up with the group for a little longer I went to scoop up a cup of water from the table……and dropped the contents on the grass without spilling a drop on myself. It was probably the most embarrassing moment of my time as a running competitor, although I’m sure it’s happened heaps of times to several better credentialled runners through their journeys.

At least dropping the tempo slightly had a number of advantages. Firstly I was able to give a wave and a word of encouragement to the 21km stragglers as well as the mid pack runners in the 10km race which started during our event. It also allowed the photographers clear access to me for those all important snapshots. Check on Facebook and the “Rocky River Run” page, I’m the bloke with blue zinc across the nose wearing blue with a white bib.

It felt as though the finish was a little anti-climactic, but the timing of the finish meant I could sneak across the line without being overly noticed. As I was about to enter the finish chute, the countdown to the start of the 5km run was taking place. It was the quietest 53rd placing (197 finished) anyone could ever achieve, not that finishing positions mean anything to those running for the love of running or just for fitness and fun. It was all about the time and pleasingly I was able to shave a 5 minute chunk off my best ever time for the distance. There was a little fist pump, and a thank you to the lass to was waiting with an open bottle of water at the end.

Apart from being in a local event, the best part of being involved is measured financially. Pricing was very reasonable compared to equivalent events in bigger cities where $45 entry fees would be unheard of. I could spend the previous night in my own bed, even though footy commitments at Tannum Sands on the Saturday meant that I didn’t fall asleep until after midnight prior to a 4AM wake up call. Plus I knew every part of the course thanks to last year’s event having the same course and training runs, where I’d need to spend an hour or so online trying to understand courses interstate which I’d be tackling virtually blindly. At least the next event, the City2South, also uses the same course as the previous year, so perhaps a time improvement is also on the cards there!

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