After a week of near constant rain Sunday 13th April dawned crisp and sunny – luckily for us Mother Nature had moved up to Far North Queensland to persecute Cooktown and its surrounds with Cyclone Ita so we were off the hook for now.
I had somehow – finally – managed to get myself motivated enough about a race to not have a drink the night before and get to bed at a reasonable hour and not eat terribly leading up to the race and hydrate properly, so as far as I can tell I did everything I could right.
And it felt good.
Due to our general slackness in actually getting around to registering for the race the “Yellow Zone” wave of runners sold out, so my brother and I had no choice but to enter the “Blue Zone”. For those who can complete 10k in under 50 mins and ‘intend to race the clock’.
Well the second bit was true!!
Because we were up front with the more serious (and seriously deluded) runners, the race involved much less ducking and weaving and ankle bashing from prams than it had in previous years. Even the bottleneck as we all turned the first corner into Domain Tunnel didn’t slow anyone down much.
Picture: Mike Keating Source
In previous years I’ve had to walk at that point whether I wanted to or not.
I’d worn shorts and a tshirt, thank god, because it was suffocating in the tunnel. And it smelled like sulphur. Yum.
Once we got through that 1500 metre stretch of purgatory we joined the section of Citylink that leads up to Bolte Bridge.
Welcome to the hilly middle of the course.
These inclines loomed dead ahead on the freeway; I could see them a mile off. I found this really mentally taxing, but in the end it wasn’t as difficult as it looked.
Bolte Bridge was the worst, coming as it does after the swerving on-ramp has already sucked all the blood out of your legs. There was a drinks station just before the climb began, around the 6k mark I believe, and I was so hot that I walked through it so I could down two cups of water. I always walk for 30 secs or so after a big drink otherwise I regret it.
It was also the first time I managed to pass the three men I’d seen at the start line. In their 20’s, dressed in matching Dorothy the Dinosaur costumes (I think!) they were hard to miss. So far I’d already seen a fellow in a gorgeous Minnie Mouse costume complete with red tutu and black velvet ears, a group of crash test dummies in bright yellow jumpsuits, a teenager in a fleecy Pikachu onesie who must have been overheating very badly 5 minutes into the race and the first of many versions of Spiderman, this one covered in lycra head to toe including his face. It made me claustrophobic just looking at him. But none of those guys would have been as hot as the dinosaur triplets. Their entire bottom half was encased in a plastic blow up costume of fluoro green Tyrannosaurus legs topped off with bright blue tshirts and a massive floppy white hat. They were drenched in sweat.
Mind you, they looked – and were – nippy, I had to hustle to keep ahead of them…
After the Bolte Bridge there was a long coasting downhill round to Docklands where we took in sights such as the boardwalk restaurants and luxury yachts bobbing up and down in the water.
I stopped for a quick pic or two…
…once I had passed the 10k timer of course. I was sitting on 62 minutes at that point, which was perfect for me. Anything under 60 mins would mean I was probably going way too fast for a race that was supposed to be something I could easily recover from.
From there it was on to the welcome gauntlet of Harbour Esplanade, where about 10 industrial fans had been set up by the side of the road to spray a cool mist of water over us as we passed. It was bliss, but over all too soon.
By the 13k mark I was finding it useful to remember this Ovid quote:
Things were getting ouchy.
We crossed Queensbridge, passed Southbank and came round under Princes Bridge to Boathouse drive, where a massive hill (okay, it was a slight rise on Petticoat Lane leading up to St Kilda Road) forced me to walk for about 100 metres. I was so ready for this to be over!
I rallied a moment later and headed into the final stretch with a massive kick. I passed at least 10 women in that last 500 metres and at one point looked at my watch to see a 4:10 min/k pace.
Then I nearly threw up.
But that was it, the race was over and I was very happy with my time of 1:35.
Apart from the crowds – apparently 35,000 people entered into the various events this year – it is a wonderful race. Apparently they’ve raised over $1.9 Million for the Royal Children’s Hospital, which is great!
And I can’t forget the actual winners of the 15k:
Craig Mottram came in at 44 mins to win the mens race and Tarli Bird finished in 54 min, taking out the womens leg.
How amazingly fast is that??
It was so much fun to get back in amongst the excitement of a race day that went well for once and didn’t result in a month of physio for me. It’s made me all fired up for Puffing Billy.
(And one other very special race which I will write about soon. Just finalising some details….)