15 August 2008

A Sunday Stroll to Bondi Beach

"Nowadays I am in the yellow (or Back of the Pack group) along with Superman, Tellytubbies, Smurfs but alas no Borat!...the guy next to me had strapped his mobile phone to his running shoe!"

Every August an event takes place in Sydney. It's certainly not a small event either, and it's certainly not a gathering of Star Wars fans. What it is is the annual City to Surf race. For those of you that do not know, the City to Surf is a 14 kms (8 miles) fun run from the Sydney CBD to the world famous Bondi Beach. It is generally an easy paced route except for the aptly named 'Heartbreak Hill' that is situated at the 6 kms mark and rises gradually for the next 2 kms.

Having run the City to Surf on a number of occasions I knew what to expect. I had only started training 10 days prior to the run. Better late than never is what I say! Anyway, my wife (aka the infamous 'No Worries') and I had other matters to attend to. Somehow, I had to finish the race fairly earlyish so that we could leave Bondi Beach and be at the airport at about 12.30 to pick up one of No Worries relatives. On top of that we had to get our daughters up early and get them ready for an early trip to the city for a pre-race breakfast at the NSW Art Gallery.

So as with our recent Pope visit we got out our whiteboard, thought about synchronising our watches and started working out a plan to ensure we could achieve everything. After an hour or so, and some apple pie and custard, we had a strategy in place.

Naturally, it didn't go according to plan! Whether it was over optimism on my part, or the incorrect alignment of the planets we ended up getting to the Art Gallery one hour later than anticipated. I just had time for some muesli and yoghurt and some fruit. Meanwhile my two daughters were eating everything they could lay their hands on! Anyway, I had to make my way to the starting position as the race started at 9am.

Many moons ago I was in the elite red group which meant I was considered quite a quick runner. Nowadays I am in the yellow (or Back of the Pack group) along with Superman, Tellytubbies, Smurfs but alas no Borat! The yellow group is really for the true fun runners (or should it be walkers).
At 9 o'clock the race started and the elite red group set off on their journey to Bondi. This group also has the international and professional runners that inevitably will win the race. Meanwhile us 'Back of the Pack' crew could only watch and wait and wait and wait.

I looked around at my fellow yellow runners and, aside from a plethora of princesses and nurses, noticed that the guy next to me had strapped his mobile phone to his running shoe! Now, I couldn't think of a worse place to put one. If it started ringing you would literally have to take your whole shoe off to answer the call. Maybe he was hoping to set a trend!

It was now 9.20am and the blue group headed off on their quest. These are the in-between runners - not as fast as the reds and more serious than the Back of the Packers. There seemed to be hundreds of thousands of them as it took a long time for them all to set off. It was now 9.40am and the announcer merrily informed us that the race had already been won! It was quite amusing as we still hadn't started!

At last the gun went off and an air of expectation descended upon us. We were free to go. Now that is what you would expect to happen but after 5 minutes I was still standing still! Was I dreaming? or was I living in a parallel universe? why wasn't anyone moving? Alas, it was none of these but just the sheer number of runners in the yellow group. After 10 minutes I passed the starting point and was off.....and walking.

As some of you would know, when you have thousands of runners it takes a while to start running effectively. After a couple of kilometres it got easier to run as the runners started to thin out. I did manage to see the Tellytubbies but couldn't remember which one was Tinky Winky and which one was Po!

From my perspective, the race went much better than expected. I shaved 4 minutes off my time from last year, and despite only having done 6 practice runs I felt really good. I got to the finish line and picked up my 'winners' medal admittedly not a gold one but still a medal.

I made my was to the marquee where I had some water and a healthy lunch with No Worries and my daughters. We sat on the beach and talked to some of the other runners. Finally, we left and made our way to catch a bus to the city and then make tracks to the airport. Despite starting my run 50 minutes after the official start we got to the airport only 30 minutes later than we should have.

So another race completed by myself. Roll on next year, I say!

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