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April 9, 2022

It’s not all that uncommon for athletes and weekend warriors alike to show signs of nervousness prior to an event. Looking around the Virgin Lounge in Brisbane probably proves it beyond doubt being surrounded by the North Queensland Cowboys NRL team and the Sunshine Coast Lightning Netball outfit. They are more likely to show nerves about their professional or semi-professional livelihoods hinging on successful outcomes of single matches. For weekend warriors like me at least for one weekend I’m probably going to share their feelings.

This weekend sees the now annual trip to the capital for what in the past has constituted a valuable Comrades training run, being 50km in race conditions. Sadly the race organisers have seen fit to not conduct a 50km event this weekend (with the national title now reverting to my “unicorn”, Gone in 60 Seconds fans will get the reference to what I’m calling the GC50 in November) so I have just under 8km less to travel. But unlike precious years Canberra takes on significance with the pressure on to run a certain time.

As I’m sure readers will know the ability to make the start line for Comrades depends on whether a runner successfully completes a marathon in a time not exceeding 4:49:59. With the later start date for this year’s edition, and with entries opening later than usual (I’ll touch on that a little later), this means that realistically Canberra represents the best opportunity to attain the standard that I’m after. That’s not to say there will be other chances as the window closes on July 12, meaning Gold Coast is another chance. It’s just that running marathons later in the window should be used as training for the race rather than chasing times.

I do have a strategy in place having calculated that an average of 6:50 per kilometre is going to ensure I make the cut by a minute. The hope is to make the half way marker in a time around the 2:10 marker to not only give myself some sort of buffer for the second half which is bound to be painful (the groin issues still exist) but also to prove I can somewhat run within my capabilities. At Wangaratta last month where expectations were practically zero, I felt as though my pace prior to groin issues resurfacing was quicker than desired contributing to my downfall (walked the last 5-6 kilometres both to get back to the start precinct and to ensure a Strava badge was attained, have to get the priorities right!). Like previous years I’m sure to look to judge my pace on Parkes Way, which accounts for close to half of the distance on the course. This year looks to be an improvement weather wise, for although long sleeved garments may need to be used the temperature according to my AccuWeather app is going to be 13 degrees which is substantially bearable compared to 0 degrees and feeling like -2 in 2021.

I did mention earlier that Comrades entries had opened up and I was able to parlay deferral status from 2020 into a start in 2022 without financial cost. There were some dramas on the night of entries opening regarding bookings of course tours for Internationals, meaning that I had to wait until the system was reset before resubmitting the entry without the tour add-on. Other locals who had to pay R1000 or so ($A93, but keep in mind their average monthly wage is ridiculously low compared to what we get on average in Australia) had similar issues, but thanks to a low uptake from runners eligible to enter early (some I guess lost interest, others may be waiting for 2023, a few internationals I assume are too chicken to travel, a couple may be waiting for the substitution window waiting to see if they can get the Q-Time first before committing) there’s actually going to be just over 3500 spots available after Easter for those who want to join in, although Australians would have to pay over $A400 before flights and accommodation to get one of the 15000 “golden tickets”.

First things first though for me, and making it to Canberra is next on the agenda. It’s back to the old style of mixing and matching changing carriers in Brisbane to ensure a reasonable arrival time, even if it means 3 hours in one of my least favourite places to spend 10 minutes in, Sydney Airport. Perhaps the business class upgrade will come in handy!

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