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July 24, 2015

Just after 7AM I positioned myself in the starting zone and seemed rather relaxed, with no sign of the trouble laying ahead. After the usual pre-race ceremonies associated with the start of an international event (interest in this event is now such that it is considered part of the elite circuit, although next year’s field may be of lesser standard considering the Olympics), the gun went at 7:20 AM to send a shade under 6000 runners on their way. It all started well enough too, with the plan to stick with a pace runner in motion and the usual habit of not taking drinks on board until the 3rd or 4th station enacted, for even though many cringe at this my training includes not sipping on my drink until about 9-10km have been covered.

Comparing the 2014 and 2015 finishers shirts. I reckon the 2014 shirt (RIGHT) is nicer to wear.

Comparing the 2014 and 2015 finishers shirts. I reckon the 2014 shirt (RIGHT) is nicer to wear.

The first sign of trouble came upon taking on board the first fluids at around 10km. Normally I only stop to take on board sports drinks which for this event was the Endura brand as opposed to Gatorade or Hydralite for other events. I’m not certain whether it’s the formula that Endura uses or the quality of the water that mixes with the powder to create the drink, but something about it didn’t taste as attractive as it should have. For me it would mean a readjustment to taking water rather than electrolyte which was something I didn’t train for, a lesson that I probably need to heed next time.

Despite the setback I felt I was still going reasonably well at the turn at the southern most point of the course, and was feeling comfortable enough at half distance. Going through the timing point signifying half distance I felt I was only slightly behind where I had wanted to be but the gap certainly wasn’t insurmountable. Little was I to realise that a matter of kilometres later the seemingly small gap had become a chasm that was insurmountable. For the first time I felt I had hit the proverbial wall with the legs having given out, and there was no choice left but to trot/shuffle/walk/crawl (if necessary) to the finish line, which at that stage was close to 17km away.

Strangely I didn’t feel overly embarrassed with the situation, instead I felt as though the interrupted preparations had taken a toll that proved to be too great to overcome. This however wasn’t an excuse to be used on race day, it was now a case of survival along with many other stragglers who also felt the pinch. For a few kilometres all I could try to do was to think use a strategy used on the Point to Pinnacle run in 2014, simply go for about 100-200 metres before the legs required a rest. If I saw a drinks station ahead I would jog to that point before sipping on some water, for by that stage the temperatures had risen from cool to reasonably warm even for early July (which is the middle of Winter for those reading in the Northern Hemisphere). If I saw another straggler ahead I would even try to catch them even if they re-passed me just seconds later as their strength returned as mine diminished.

After what seemed an eternity the final kilometre began. Unlike last year where my feelings were of jubilation, so much so that I was imploring the spectators on the roadside to increase their cheering, all I could raise was a hand in the air thanking them for their support as I trotted past. After all, I couldn’t feel satisfied in my efforts but the least I could do for those waiting for hours was to give them due acknowledgement. In a spur of the moment thing I thought about what I would do when I reached the finish line. For a moment I considered doing the “lizard” celebration made famous by NRL star Greg Inglis, but I reconsidered thinking that someone would see this as a sign that I required medical assistance. Instead as I crossed the finish line some 43 minutes outside of what I had set out to achieve, I attempted to do a cartwheel across the finish line. Now THAT was embarrassing, not because I managed to somehow not fall flat on my ass, but because the legs simply didn’t look anywhere near vertical as a cartwheel should. I suppose however I did get noticed by the PA announcer who was giving it the good old “What The?”

Strangely for someone who struggled through the bulk of the journey due to fatigue in the legs, walking was not so much a problem. Admittedly it did help that my accommodation had a spa bath which at least gave me a little time to relax, but still it didn’t feel as satisfying as it should have. It did however confirm that I would come back for a 3rd crack at the event next year, for there is now some unfinished business for me to deal with. It also probably has made me more determined to have a real crack at Melbourne in October, let alone at the other events on my schedule.



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