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June 9, 2016

It seems that the first weekend of June is a popular time to hold running events throughout the country. With the Gold Coast Marathon a matter of days away it’s little wonder that people looking to use that as their Grand Final will look for decent lead up runs under race conditions. Naturally with me building up to a 3rd successive appearance on the Coast, a lead up run was essential to the build up in order to get the kilometres in the legs and to get used to race morning procedures.

The choices were eventually narrowed down to 4. In the past 3 years I have ventured down to Brisbane to do their City2South event. Their 14km event (even though it’s measured officially at 13.6 according to many GPS systems) includes elevation changes which provide a good workout, although last year saw numbers down with many complaining that free entries were given away in promotions to build the numbers. I would have been entitled to start towards the front in the fast class just behind the elite runners, but this year the distance would probably have been a little too short.

Other options would have been to be a first time participant at venues where I have spent time in past years. The Mackay Marina Run offers a Half Marathon and would have been relatively easy to get to via Greyhound Bus (although accommodation may have been another matter given I have never spent more than a single night in the town at any stage of my life), whilst the NT version of the City 2 Surf in Darwin may have only gone for 12km, but would have offered different training conditions given the tropical Dry Season would have kicked in. Returning to Darwin to run this event offers appeal in later years for the Northern Territory is the only part of Australia where I haven’t run in any type of event in apart from school carnivals (which really don’t count given participation in these is about as compulsory as they get without being compulsory). Plus Darwin is a nice place to wander around by day if one can handle the humidity and heat.

Despite all of this the local event will often win the day when it comes to where I spend my hard earned on entry fees. After all, I can sleep in my own bed, and not have to shell out anything for public transport or airfares. Usually the Rocky River Run is held on the final weekend of May, but the move to June came as the organisers changed from the Rotary club to the local CTC company. Apart from adding a Zombie run on the Saturday (something that football in Tannum Sands prevented my from taking part in, not that I would have considered running in that anyway) there wasn’t significant change to the courses or start times, so familiarity would be a source of comfort. Race package pick up too was as it was last year, and fortunately for me a Saturday pick up not only helped me on the Sunday morning to focus on the running, but also gave me a chance to even record some thoughts much to the confused looks on the faces of footy team mates. (Yes I do look ugly don’t I!)

Thankfully the wet weather that lashed the East Coast of Australia largely avoided the area (the bigger falls in the Central Queensland actually were inland, where rain is always welcomed), but with the course passing through the Norbridge Park junior World Game complex I thought that the second lap would see the course boggy with runners looking for better ground, particularly with 10km runners hot on our tail. Apart from cool conditions which saw me wear the long sleeved top as opposed to a singlet, the weather was very nice at race start. For once I was able to get a decent warm up, and I wasn’t as anxious as I was at Canberra for example where everything was rushed.

It was a controlled race start as the main contenders would dash off into the distance. I found myself close enough to a good pack of runners just behind a 1:45 pace runner. For once time wasn’t the main aim of this day, but final race position was what I was looking for with a spot inside the top 50 being the pass marker. It was all going smoothly at a nice tempo…..and then came the stuff up.

Having travelled further than normal, the sunrise in the background provided nice light for this facebook photographer.

Having travelled further than normal, the sunrise in the background provided nice light for this facebook photographer.

This blog is not going to cast accusations over whose fault it was for the failing, but being sent in a direction other than what the course was intended to be seemed strange at the time. From what I believe last year there were some that complained that the course was not long enough to be of half marathon distance, and if they had actually read the small print on the maps provided last year they would have been correct with the course being about 300m short for the half marathon. What probably happened was an over correction, where the runners completed a second loop of the Rockhampton Showgrounds before being sent back where we were supposed to go. At the time I didn’t hear anyone else arguing with the SES volunteers manning that corner, concentration on reaching the distance would have been too great and those folks would have been the wrong people to complain to in any case. Perhaps the local press would have been well served to actually ask someone who ran the course for a comment as opposed to organisers who mentioned a second lap around the World Game fields which was as truthful as a politician promising not to lie for 5 minutes in parliament.

With the times out of sync it was a case of just hanging in to the finish. It was a lonely trip up the straight for the first time just as the 10km runners were warming up, which is something I try to avoid. Knowing the PA announcer personally I try to hide so I don’t get embarrassed but as usual I was spotted. Maybe I should have just worn a singlet and dispensed with the zinc across the nose! The second lap basically passed without incident, although the last 3 kilometres were a struggle with the legs still suffering from the footy on the Saturday. Thankfully I managed to pass a few on the second lap which I can’t recall happening in previous years, and the only runners that passed me were running the shorter distance so all I had to do was stay out of their way. In the end a 47th placing was about as good as I could hope for, it was after all within what I would call a good day personally.

Unlike the last couple of years, I have kept the race bib from the closest run to a local event I'll get, the Rocky River Run.

Unlike the last couple of years, I have kept the race bib from the closest run to a local event I’ll get, the Rocky River Run.

It was only then that I checked the Strava app on the phone which had been recording the time and distance (something I won’t be doing for the Gold Coast, worried too much about battery life). Usually I don’t worry about the distance on the iPod, given any type of movement is recorded, heck it even says you’ve run a kilometre if you jog on the spot at a set of traffic lights. When I saw the active distance of 22.7km, and having seen others using the same app also record in excess of 22km, I instantly looked for the facebook page to see if anyone else had similar distances. My mind was eased when I saw that there were a few others that asked about the distance. Of course given that the organisers were in their first year of running the event, teething problems are expected and usually ironed out in their second year. Hopefully next year will be the case, although a change in the course has been rumoured.

As for the preparation for the Gold Coast, the extra distance actually paves the way for me to take on another 2 long runs before the big day in less than 4 weeks time. I’m planning for a 2 week taper, meaning that a long run this Sunday (12 June) and the next (June 19) would be closer to 30 than 20 kilometres. Not having a June long weekend this year in Queensland isn’t helpful in some ways, but I also think my preparation for this year is better than last year’s in so many ways. Touch wood I stay niggle free and hit that start line on the Gold Coast aiming for that sub 4 hour time.



Before I go another reminder of my fundraising efforts for the City2Surf in Sydney. Any donation to Beyond Blue accepted, they’ll be as appreciative as I will be. Visit to give today!

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