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October 6, 2016

It’s that time of year yet again. The footy has come and gone (and for me, boy was it worth waiting all those years for! WOOF WOOF WOOF!), Daylight Savings dominates political talk in Queensland (no thanks), and preparations for the last of the main marathons in Australia conclude before race day in October. Don’t worry about Mike Brady singing One Day in October, for thousands of runners from across the country this really is the one day for us, our Grand Final if you will.

A lot of planning and preparation goes into running big events like this. Sure Gold Coast is probably more glamorous with the attraction of sand, surf, sheilas and a greater elite presence, and Sydney has the free to air TV coverage for those who love saying “Hi Mum”. But Melbourne has the historic value and the bigger numbers of participants, and for that this needs more respect in so many ways. That’s not to devalue those events in any way, Gold Coast is always like the All-Star game for those American readers, but the lure of a Grand Final type event in my home city will always see me come back.

With the training phase basically done and dusted (a few more 10km efforts and maybe an interval session this weekend should see me through), it’s time to go over the long term planning for the weekend. Many like to go with the flow and just approximate. Personally I worry too much about missing things so I just try to plan everything out as much as possible. Here is what I would consider a personal itinerary of my 2016 Melbourne Marathon campaign, my 4th time starting this event. NOTE that all times are AEST unless stated (that is NOT Daylight Savings time)


5:00AM: Last 45 minute session before Sunday. Won’t get time to do it on the Friday which is travel day or Saturday which has a crowded schedule.
6:15PM: Finish my last shift for the week sorting mail, leave has been booked in advance so that I don’t need to return to work until the following Tuesday afternoon so flights and accommodation have been booked accordingly.
7:05PM: Board the bus bound for Brisbane. Meal stops are planned along the way as per the Greyhound Australia timetable, sleep likely along the route.

Last year's bib and medal, perhaps some motivation for this year?

Last year’s bib and medal, perhaps some motivation for this year?


6:05AM: Arrive at the Brisbane Transit Centre located at Roma Street, top up Go Card, perhaps stop for a coffee either at McDonalds or across the road at a nearby 7-Eleven
6:32AM: Take Gold Coast line train to the Coast, arrive at Broadbeach South Bus/Tram station at 8:12AM. This is the only real part during the travel component where the schedule is open ended thanks to the departure time from Gold Coast Airport. Probably have a recovery swim from about 8:40 till just after 9:15 or so depending on conditions/tide.
10:50AM: Bus from Broadbeach South to Gold Coast Airport, check luggage (check in process to be done prior). Won’t be too upset if I’m 15 minutes late which is when the next bus arrives.
2:05PM: Depart to Sydney. Strange you may think to have a stopover but the only cheaper flight would have got me into Melbourne just before 11:30 AEDST (Australian Eastern Daylight Standard Time). Much prefer to get in as early as possible.
5:15 AEDST: Depart for Melbourne. May not be shocked if I get put on the next flight as Sydney can often be delayed more than any other capital city airport.
6:50 AEDST: Arrive at Tullamarine, collect baggage, take Skybus to City (will decide if I want to prepay before bus departure)
8:00 AEDST: Check into Space Hotel, Russell St in Melbourne. More expensive than I thought until I checked my booking upon payment today and instead of a single room I am in a Queen. In fact for my first Melbourne Marathon I booked a Queen room so perhaps this may bring more luck.
11:00 AEDST: Sleep (hopefully)


5:00 AEDST: Wake up, don’t have to get out of bed but just wake up.
8:00 AEDST: Walk through city, purchase personal drinks for drop off later that morning, making sure I have a permanent marker and perhaps even some Red White and Blue tape. Yep I’m still in celebratory mode (I did tell some this would be a 42km victory lap!). Will also be purchasing biggest band aids I’ll find to cover the nipples, when they start bleeding from the friction against the top not only is it painful but it can be very distracting from the task.
9:00 AEDST: Collect bib from the MCG. Drop off personal drinks. Think I’ll only be using a single station this year instead of 2 last year, so I’ll be looking for the 23.5km station.
10:00 AEDST: Brunch, usually a Subway footlong Chicken Teriyaki with bacon, lettuce, carrot, onion and mayo. Small drink. Put on a few bets for the Caulfield Cup meeting that afternoon.
Remainder of afternoon open ended, may head somewhere in Melbourne. Given the course basically hasn’t changed in my 3 previous runnings (the second was slightly altered with the finish being outside the MCG rather than inside). May need to find a sports shop for fresh socks.
4:30 AEDST: Pizza or Lasagne, depending on how I’m feeling.
7:30 PM AEDST: put gear out for Sunday, Bulldogs jumper with top of choice.
8:30 AEDST: Lights out, early night!


3:00 AM AEDST: Wake Up, alarms will be set from 3AM on both tablet and phone (and alarm clock will be set at 3:30) in 15 minute intervals until 4AM
4:00 AM AEDST: Shower, change into gear. gather bag. Need to be out the door by just after 4:30AM if possible.
4:30 AM AEDST: Walk to MCG, stopping at 7-Eleven for pre-race drinks (GATORADE, perhaps even a Protein drink if I feel like it)
5:30 AM AEDST: Enter bag drop area at MCG below Ponsford Stand/Members, wait until at least 6AM to peel warm clothing off before dropping off gear bag. Fortunately gear bag area is written on bib so I won’t forget.
6:05 AM AEDST: Stretch, walk across footbridge to starting area outside Rod Laver Arena.
6:30 AM AEDST: Quick Dynamic style warm-up, get the legs moving.
6:45 AM AEDST: Enter start area, ready to execute race plan.

From there it’s simply a case of executing the race plan, and going from there. Post race massage hopefully will help this year, unlike last when a bandage over the knee buggered everything up. Those Meniscus in both knees better hold up or else I may be in the Wheelchair event next year when I chop a leg off! After that I’ll have a feed in the CBD somewhere and perhaps if I have the energy I’ll head back to the precinct to watch the Basketball that afternoon. Flight home is not until 8AM AEDST Tuesday although I will be changing motels on the Monday (worked out cheaper than flying home Monday).


So to the bit I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for, the race plan itself. Naturally it won’t be overly detailed, but there is a Plan A and a Plan B.

Good spot to start Plan B?!

Good spot to start Plan B?!


In training I have been easily doing 5:20 kilometres and in the last lead up run (the Twilight Bay Run) I was getting through most of the journey averaging 5:20/km. If I use Plan A then I’ll be looking to use that plan until the personal drink marker at 23.5km, then slightly picking up the tempo until 10km to go. A check of the watch will determine how the last 10km will go, hopefully the legs and the motivation will see me continue to do 5:30 or quicker per kilometre.


Start just behind the 4 Hour pacer and run their pace until mid distance (usually signified by an inflatable gantry). Run a quicker couple of kilometres to get to the personal drink station, then fall back into their pace and hang on until late in the run.


I anticipate taking drinks at the following drink stations (I will likely have a little water if available at the start precinct)

  • 8km (Station 3, Albert Park Drive behind the Lake Oval/Athletics track, water)
  • 13.7km (station 5, Village Green Drive, sports drink)
  • 20.3km (station 7, Beaconsfield Parade, sports drink)
  • 23.5km (PERSONAL DRINK STATION 2, Orange Lucozade)
  • 28km (station 9, Point Ormond, sports drink)
  • 31.1km (station 10, Fitzroy st, water, perhaps to cool rather than drink so may even take 2 cups)
  • 37km (station 12, Birdwood Ave, sports drink, walk through station if needed)
  • 39.8km (station 13, St.Kilda Rd, sports drink or water, last drinks before finish)

I have trained to run at least 8km before needing to take on board fluids so I am able to run that distance comfortably. The anticipation of the bulk of the field taking on drinks at the first 2 stations and the traffic associated means I can make up a little time that I’ll probably need when the hurt kicks in during the back end.


Hopefully this gives a little insight into my plan of attack (or defence) for next Sunday. I hope to catch up on the start line with you if you are there!

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