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April 11, 2017

You know the saying nice guys finish last? Well last Sunday I was almost the poster boy for that exact saying as I trudged across the line to finish the Canberra Ultra Marathon for the first time. Yes there was a part of me that was thankful that I was able to avenge the bitter pill of a DNF from the previous year. Maybe it’s the competitor and the attitude in me that shows a little disappointment at finishing so low down the order. But at the end of the day, the few little wins and positives I gained from this will be better long term than concentrating on the lows.

Preparation seemed to be OK. I was able to get the support I felt was necessary for the left knee on the Saturday at a reduced price to add to my happy mindset. As I had mentioned in the previous post, food intake was considerably lower than the previous year, and I was pretty relaxed spending a Saturday Night in front of the box. Everything was laid out and I managed to get a few hours sleep, even if some at the University of Canberra village were in party mode/regretting the party mode just after 10PM.

Waking up early at 3AM often can be an arduous task, but for the marathoner and ultra marathoner in me it’s almost normal routine for race morning. Everything was packed including much of the fluid I would be taking on the run. In hindsight and with Comrades in mind perhaps carrying the Powerade bottle may not have been the correct choice given that I’ll probably take advantage of the hot flat Coke that will be at the drink stations (SETTLE DOWN BEN COUSINS, NOT THAT COKE). Still it all looked like a normal Canberra buildup with the cab dropping me off at a good location this year (it helps to know which way is actually northbound, last year I wanted to go to Parkes Avenue which could only be accessed by those heading south).

It was from that point, at just after 5:15 in the morning, that any hope of normalcy in a warm up and in the race itself was thrown out the window. Knowing that it would be cold was one thing, for there was no doubt in my mind that as the day progressed the conditions would turn out to be ideal. Unfortunately the BOM got a forecast somewhat correct for once and the rain started to fall. Frustratingly it was persistent intermittent showers that confronted the field for the bulk of the day. When the first shower came everyone present huddled under the Rebel Warm Down area, yet it came and went 10 minutes later. Thinking everything was OK it was time to drop off the bag to expose myself to the elements.

Not worrying too much about the conditions, it was time for a light trot in front of Old Parliament House where the start line was located. The abatement of the rain lasted a matter of minutes, and just before 5:50 AM a group of runners were huddled above the stairs at the entrance to Old Parliament House to shelter from another shower. The saving grace was the fact that I was able to semi photo bomb a couple of snaps that probably found their way on Instagram or some other website. I say semi photo bomb because the only way not to photo bomb was to wander forward into the rain.

It would be a late entrance into the starting chute for just about everyone in the field. Usually the competitors gather behind the line about 15-20 minutes before the start and casually mill around or try to find their position for race start. Yet it didn’t seem all that rushed as everyone else was in the same position and the start was delayed by 5 minutes as the final course clearance was being made. It was all a relaxed atmosphere as the marathoners, probably the saner people who were near the start line at the time given they had 8km less to travel, started to take their position to see us off. Then before we knew it, it was time to start the stop watch as the countdown started…….



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