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March 29, 2015

They always say there’s a first time for everything. Many such occurrences are or turn out to be memorable, others provide fodder for a slideshow at a milestone birthday bash. On Sunday I also experienced a first time that I don’t really want to revisit, yet I’ll never have any control over it. For sure it’s frustrating to start an event, feel in great shape and be told not to complete the course due to weather, but based on past experiences the event organisers really didn’t have much of a choice.

I wouldn’t say the alarm bells were ringing earlier on a personal level when I first took real notice of the weather forecast in the days before the event, but I decided to pack some long sleeves and the track top in case the weather closed in. The track top was not for running in, but rather for the journey to the public transport that would take me to the motel for the night should rain close in. The rain storm on the Saturday in a way calmed my nerves about the weather, despite the concerns from facebook posters wondering if the event would be postponed or cancelled. Generally I always felt that a day of heavy rain wasn’t followed up by another unless cyclonic conditions prevailed, and Cyclone Nathan was well to the North of Brisbane and shouldn’t have been a factor.

There was no rain in Brisbane as I landed in the Queensland capital on the Sunday morning, despite reasonable cloud cover overhead. There was a shower as I headed into the city to check into the motel room, but by the time I started to make my way to the event just after 2PM, that rain had cleared and the sun was even trying to poke through the clouds. It was a dry track as I arrived at the University of Queensland campus at St.Lucia, and hopes of a rain free event increased as other events commenced.

The mood changed though as we started to organise ourselves for our event, just after the kids were sent on their way for their 1km dash. I was shuffling back towards where I intended to start from amongst the half marathoners and 10km entrants and was just about to focus on the task at hand when the rain started. Not wanting to get cold after a warm up and hoping to get the bulk of the event in before the rain really set in, some were overheard saying “let us go” and “get on with it” as the Lord Mayor started to dribble some usual filth that dignitaries think they’re entitled to. Eventually at the appointed start time, as the rain started to tumble, we were released from the start house to start the journey.

The first sign of trouble would have come after crossing the bridge for the first time. Coming off the bridge there was a downhill section of left hand and right hand bends, but there was water running across the road at about top of foot depth. Fortunately there was a course volunteer braving the elements to at least warn us of the threat, but there was nobody at the bottom of the rise after going under the bridge where still water covered much of the road. Still the road warriors powered past an enthusiastic group at the nearby water station as the rain intensified. Despite this the split at the 5km marker wasn’t too far off what I had liked to achieve.

Race plans however were thrown out the window at about the 6.5km mark. A lone rider on a pushbike who would usually accompany a class leader or race leader slowly traveled past to relay a message of race “cancellation”. I’m sure some would have stopped to slowly walk back to the start area, others would have cracked it, but a few like me decided to up the tempo to at least complete 10km. There was little fanfare at the finish line, many who had gathered had sought shelter or had already departed, and many of the attractions for the kids had been packed away. The PA system was basically repeating the message to seek shelter in one of UQ’s underground car parks. Turns out that a Severe Weather Warning was issued from the Bureau of Meteorology about 7 minutes after we started. Another runner was a little confused about the situation, although at the time I thought there had to be lightning in the area which would certainly cause a postponement or cancellation. Typically though the rain had abated close to half an hour after the run was completed, and any threat of a storm proved fruitless.

Race organisers certainly cannot be blamed for taking the action that they took. A wilder storm had struck the course just 2 years ago, and a competitor was killed after a branch struck a fatal blow. Obviously they didn’t want anything like that to happen again if that situation can be avoided. Sentiment on their Facebook page echoed this, saying that the right decision was made despite the disappointment many would have felt, particularly those who also competed 2 years ago. I’m sure many will probably avoid the event in future years, and others have advocated a later date for the event. Personally I would be against the event being in April given this event is my main lead in for Canberra, particularly with my training ruined by Marcia.

There are now a couple of weeks before I hit the streets of Canberra, and with all the interruptions throughout training I’ll now just be happy to cross the finish line without cramping.



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