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COMRADES 2020 – A TYPE OF ROAD TO REDEMPTION

January 1, 2020

So with a new decade (at least for those who consider a decade being years ending from 0-9) upon us the road to redemption which this year’s Comrades tilt is clear. I’m aware some are saying I’m mad for trying again once, let alone after three successive attempts that ended with improvements each time without the ultimate prize. Yet here we are yet again, ready to get stuck into training and eventually into a race program leading up to the second Sunday in June as we go DOWN to Durban.

There are a few changes to the schedule for this year’s lead in with some events like the Rocky River Run reverting back to the favoured May time slot, but Cairns this year is now pushed back to September on the same weekend as Sydney. Looking for runs under race conditions of sufficient preparatory distance in April after Canberra is a challenge, but maybe concentrating on training could be more beneficial. I’m also not anticipating being involved in football as a player this year, although umpiring games is likely on weekends where I’m available. The anticipated schedule therefore is…..

23 FEBRUARY: WANGARATTA MARATHON

Usually I enter the half marathon, enjoy cruising through a 21.1km training session, taking in the country air and a medal before getting the train back to the big city. This year however with a lack of runs later on, plus the changes to Port Macquarie (more on that in a moment) and looking for other challenges I’ve decided to step up to the marathon distance. Heck if I run quick enough to break 4:20, I may even get myself a sneaky start pen upgrade that I wasn’t banking on!

8 MARCH: TREBLE BREAKWALL BUSTER, PORT MACQUARIE

In spite of the drought conditions and hopefully with the fire and smoke situation long put behind them, the second stop again is a familiar one. It’s going to be a thrill to be back on the start line to become just one of a handful to complete this on a 3rd occasion (this is the 4th running), but this year will be more challenging. Time limits have been introduced to try to reduce the burden on volunteers being out on the course amongst other things. Therefore it will be imperative to run a fast half marathon in the first leg to maximise the time to complete the 10km. Getting somewhere near the 2 hour mark which coincides with the start of leg 2 (10km) is the main goal, then it’s a case of getting close to the pack so I can make it for the 5km final leg, and hopefully be somewhere outside the last 5 to finish!

There’s also another alteration to the calendar post this event. In past years I’ve taken a solitary day off work and travelled to Brisbane, ensuring I stay somewhere with a fitness area to do some gym work to recover before returning to work on the Tuesday. This year I’ve taken a week of Long Service Leave and will travel to Melbourne for a week, with a motel containing fitness centre booked and close to the running trails for longer recovery runs in the middle of the week. Hopefully the week dedicated to training in familiar yet different surrounds to normality will bring an edge that I haven’t had for a while.

ARPIL 5: CANBERRA ULTRA (50km National Championships)

You read correctly, there’s a possibility of me becoming the Australian Champion in the 50km Road event. Sure I’ll need to improve my best time by about 2 and a half hours but still we can dream can’t we? In all seriousness it’s the kilometres I’ll be chasing as opposed to a time that I’m sure a few will be chasing in order to qualify. If a time goal is going to be set, then the first goal will be to break 6 hours, the second will be sub 5:39 (Personal Best), and a third will be sub 5:19 which if Wangaratta’s time doesn’t cut it will enable a seeding upgrade that I may not have been necessarily chasing.

The change for this apart from race organisers (Fairfax are getting out of the race promotion business, a group called Sole Motive who organise Run Melbourne are the new promoters) is accommodation. Instead of the longer trip out to the University of Canberra dorms near Belconnen, I’ve decided to stay closer to the city at ANU’s dorms. The taxi fares to and from the airport will be cheaper and I can walk to the start line from there rather than get a cab whose path is closed. Despite the change in organisers it appears the course is the same as this year’s, and with the timing of the race a week before Easter the next weekend should see me do a trio of 5km’s on the Saturday with Coburg Parkrun being the middle leg, and a 30km day on the Sunday.

APRIL 26: GOLD COAST RUNNING FESTIVAL HALF MARATHON

With a lack of races about but with a public holiday on the Monday to observe ANZAC Day (falls on a Saturday this year) I may or may not enter this race. Should I choose to do so I’ll probably look to do either an extra run later that afternoon depending on whether I’m required for work on the Monday, as if I am required I’ll be commuting back from Brisbane later that afternoon or evening. Again this is just for the kilometres rather than a specific time although there may be stages where I’ll incorporate speed work into the run. I haven’t appeared here for a number of years so I may not be certain on what to exactly expect from the course or conditions.

MAY 3: WINGS FOR LIFE WORLD RUN, PERTH

Yes a change for this race being the location rather than the date, which again falls nicely on a long weekend (Labor Day public holiday on the Monday in Queensland). Obviously I would have preferred to keep this in Melbourne for logistical reasons (and to possibly do a double header with the Puffing Billy Race, which will be on the bucket list now), but perhaps the trip to Perth will have advantages. Can’t wait to see what the course will entail (hopefully it won’t piss footy fans off as it’s Western Derby day), which combined with spending the night in Perth rather than rushing for the red eye may be a better experience. With the move to the west coast, it’s anticipated that the local start time will be 7PM based on past years. The aim is again get some experience running on roadways that normal training can’t provide, which for Comrades I feel is helpful with many kilometres around Durban run on similar surfaces.

MAY 23: NOOSA

New to the schedule and part of a double header weekend, the hardest part of this will be commuting to and from and timing it correctly. From what I’ve researched the easiest way returning is to make the slow train that runs from Brisbane to Longreach at Nambour station (an hour and a half away) by 3:50PM. This means that I’ll need to be out of Noosa by about 1PM, whilst communicating with others who need to look after logistics on the home front.

The run itself (a 31.6km event which is practically a 3 lap race with their half marathon being 2 and their full marathon being 4) seems relatively straight forward, and I felt running that distance would be more beneficial at this stage of the preparation when combined with the plan for the next day. This may change should I be required at work the next day rather than running on the Sunday (I’ll likely be stepping UP in distance if that’s the case).

MAY 24: ROCKY RIVER RUN HALF MARATHON

With the return to the May date (I’m guessing changing to June was basically to stroke the ego of the mayor, or maybe it was the fact a motorfest is running that weekend now) the intention is to run the half marathon of this event. The difficult parts for this event are both logistical, where I’ll be hoping someone will be able to collect my race pack on my behalf, and physical given the train trip and the previous day’s running. No time expectations although I’ll be looking to run a strong first lap as a minimum as this is a multi lap course (I believe for the half marathon it’s 3 laps), and this will be the last major training run under any conditions (race or training) prior to South Africa.

 

In effect training has started already, but in reality training commences this afternoon with a quick 5km. At a later time I’ll go through the travel details to get to and from Durban which has been slightly complicated thanks to financial issues for South African Airlines. Some have decided to take the direct Qantas flight to Johannesburg but I’m after frequent flyer points and I’m not in the Qantas program, so I’ll finalise the details closer to the end of January. The drive to avoid being labelled a “Buffalo Bill*” amongst the Comrades Fraternity has begun.

*: For those that don’t know, the Buffalo Bills made 4 consecutive Super Bowls, a reasonable equivalent for runners….they LOST them all! I don’t want to be like that.
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