City2Surf 07: field report

14 08 2007

a special report from our AFL correspondent, iscdaws…

I awoke yesterday morning, far too early to be considered reasonable for a Sunday, in preparation for my first City2Surf run. Having not competed for 5 years, not run a ‘fun run’ (why do they insist on naming them as such? What is fun about running 14km???) since 1993, and before 5 weeks ago I hadn’t run at all for 15 months, you can imagine I viewed the run before me with a little trepidation.

feet & heart poundin’…As we drove along closer to the city, I detected an eerie theme to the music on the radio “That was my mistake” was being blared at me by Split Enz, and a quick change of channel had Nathalie Imbruglia bellowing something about a “big mistake”. The omens were not good…

It was a lovely morning, sun shining, birds chirping, and people everywhere. It was a strange buzz. I am used to people glaring at each other before ‘races’, a general feeling that we were about to engage in mortal combat, yet here people were laughing, joking, singing and dancing. A sea of happy people. I wondered if they knew what they were getting themselves into.

As the first gun went off, people cheered as the ‘serious’ runners bolted out towards the east, we wouldn’t start for another ten minutes. Co-ordinating 65,000+ people to run would be a logistical nightmare, yet there seemed to be an organised chaos here.

Finally our horn blew and we slowly ambled up on to William Street to head out towards Kings Cross. As I turned the corner around College St the enormity of the event hit me, as far as the eye could see were people, it looked like a scene from some horror movie, all these people heading in one direction, running from something. Finally it cleared enough to start slowly jogging, and then gradually getting faster. To my left was someone dressed as ‘Borat’ in his green g-string – not something I needed to see at that point in time.

The pace started picking up and I got into my rhythm. I always find it is helpful to sing a little song to yourself to keep that same pace, and this was assisted as we ran through the 2km mark with a band on a balcony playing a familiar tune “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock’n’roll”. With guitars blaring, several people seemed to pick up the pace. AC/DC would have been proud of the effect it had, but maybe Bon Scott would be turning in his grave at the lead singer’s attempt at the lyrics. I never knew AC/DC had been translated into swahili, “Gep oop don ne la vay, sre na loom i yo” I caught a glimpse of the singer, and for a man with so many tatts and such an obvious love of bourbon to have learned a second language shows you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. The tune however was stuck in my head now.

Gradually my pace increased, I had aimed to make it to halfway averaging 5 minute kilometres and push on from there, and at 3 k I was looking good, but I knew it was going to get a whole lot harder from there.

*fun* (?) run…What amazed me on this run was the general goodwill of spectators and competitors alike, I saw a man in a wheel chair being asked if he would like help going up hills, people encouraging strangers as they ran past, the kind of things we should be seeing everyday… but aren’t. Maybe if the whole world ran fun runs it would be a nicer place? I had little time for this thought, I hit 5km’s and knew I was about to meet up with a foe of great infamy, ‘HeartBreak Hill’ was upon us.

I had thought about walking the hill before the day, but my competitive nature won out, only a ‘real man’ (or complete idiot… your choice) would run the hill, and so I did. I still had AC/DC in my head, and new lyrics seemed to emerge to keep me running

“Heading out through Rose Bay,
God I feel like shit,
Blisters on my instep,
wish I was at home,
god it’s steep,
this damn hill,
the course designer
should be killed
holy crap
I feel crook
they weren’t joking, it’s harder than it looks
It’s a long way to the top of the New South Head road…”

Finally reaching the top, the 7km mark and halfway point I glanced at my watch, 35 minutes, mission 1 accomplished. I sucked down a cup of water and threw another over my head. I had run all the way up the hill and felt better for it, I had broken the back of the run but didn’t want to get carried away. I saw some people surge off the peak like there was only 1 km to go. Funnily enough they were the same people I saw 5 minutes later sitting by the side of the road sucking in the big ones whilst curled in the foetal position.

Through 8 and 9 km’s the crowd kept thinning out, and there was still an electric atmosphere. I felt myself slowing, then next thing I knew a guy had run up next to me “Tack on buddy, I’ll pull you through”. I had found a running partner, we stepped up the pace again and took turns leading each other through the maze. At 10km’s he said “Alright mate, off you go, you’ll be fine”. I did so and kept the pace up.

By 11km, a new thought entered my mind “WHEN DOES THIS F*#*ING RACE END!!!!”. In my life I have never run more than 11km, so I was entering new territory. I was maintaining my pace and knew it was not long now. At 12km’s, Bondi was visible, the beautiful blue waters were beckoning us all home on this glorious day, it was at this point that I had an epiphany, exactly why this was called a fun run. After all that I had seen I was struck by the nature of the run itself. Not for ambition, or gain, or medals, or money do you do this. You do it for a common wage only your secret heart can appreciate. Your commission is to run to the best of your ability. Suddenly a surge of energy powered through me, I lifted my sad, aching, bleeding feet higher and moved inexorably towards the finish. It was then that ‘Spiderman’ went running past me. Him being a superhero and all, it is no dishonour having that happen, but nonetheless I tried to catch the web-head, obviously chasing some unseen menace through the pack. We raced through the final 1500 metres, which seemed never ending, and fell across the finish line. I checked my watch, I had timed myself at 65 minutes. Official race time would be 67 mins 43, with me losing the 2 minutes it took for me to actually get to the start line through the sea of people.

The Happy Runner - iscdawsI had done it, I had run 14km, 13.2km further than I usually like, I had run the whole way, run under 5 min k’s, had conquered heartbreak hill and was still alive. More than that, I had actually enjoyed it.


I have also found a new challenge. Next year, the challenge is to run 56 mins, averaging 4 minute km’s for the race…





One response

14 08 2007

It sounds like the emotions that you gained by doin’ the run was ‘Run to Paradise’ (Choir Boys) … but the look on your face was more like ‘I See Red’ (Split Enz).

Well done isc for the terrific story + the attempt & completion of your first fun run. . . . 4 mins per km next year, ‘Take it Easy’ The Eagles.

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