A few friends had signed up to do the Sydney Running Festival half marathon and marathon and the dates slotted in perfectly with us heading to NSW for Rally Australia, so we both decided to stay in Sydney for the week and signed up for the half marathon.
It was being held a month after the City to Surf half marathon, so Jeremy and I ran a few 5km runs after City to Surf, plus parkrun each week and a 14km run the weekend before we left for NSW. When we were in Coffs Harbour we ran a humid and sweaty five kms, then headed back south to Sydney where we did 6-7km from our hotel to the Opera House the next day. The Saturday before the half marathon we ran St Peters parkrun.
Getting up at 4.30am on Sunday morning to be on the first train from Kings Cross station guaranteed an interesting walk through the streets of Kings Cross. Most people ignored me but a few ladies approached Jeremy, despite his race number being clearly visible. The station platform was half nightclubbers, half runners and the nightclubbers looked most puzzled.
We got to Milsons Point at a couple of minutes to 6am ready for the start window opening at 6.15am. I shot straight to the toilet queue after waving goodbye to Jeremy and wishing him luck.
I then proceeded to be stuck in the portaloo queue for nigh on the full start window – I actually crossed the start line at 6.33am, with two minutes to go. I maintain that this was the best move I made all day. The roads were clear and at no point in the full 21.1km distance did I feel like my way was impeded by other runners.
What was absolutely lovely was that I’d really wanted to get a photo of myself on the Sydney Harbour Bridge but as I was wary of being the sudden obstacle in someone else’s race I was prepared that it might not happen. As it was, it was me plus about 15 other people in a 50 metre radius around me on a six lane bridge. So I took my photo. Actually I think I took four.
The half marathon course is the first ten kilometres and last ten kilometres of the marathon course so the half marathoners started first and an hour later the marathoners headed out. Because I was in the back of the half marathon group I was overtaken by the wheelchair marathon participants and had the pleasure of seeing Kurt Fearnley absolutely destroy the opposition and come in 11 minutes faster than his closest rival. The full Sydney Marathon course was used in the Sydney Olympics, so it was lovely to know that I was running where Olympic athletes had run before.
There were several points where the course went out and back on itself so I could see the runners in the half marathon field ahead of me – they were a constant snake of runners, and it looked quite claustrophobic. I saw Jeremy on a number of occasions, and he looked good at all points. A couple of years ago, before he started running he would cycle along and always note that the runners he came across never smiled. He probably hasn’t noticed that he never smiles when he runs either, he’s always concentrating too much.
When I came in to the finish line I picked up the pace a bit, but I hadn’t struggled in any way during the run, partly because I hadn’t really tried to run hard. Indeed, I came in in my slowest ever time; 2h28m56s. At the end I felt like I could have run the whole distance a second time. My plan was to run as a tourist and enjoy the streets closed to traffic. Because I ran at the very back of the field I could look around and notice things like gargoyles on buildings and construction dates, I didn’t have to worry about dodging other runners and weaving through traffic.
The only issue I had was some rubbing from my t-shirt on the inside of my left bicep, but I pulled into the aid station to put some vaseline on it and it was relatively OK after that. The course elevation seems less hilly in comparison to Perth City to Surf, but it felt harder than the Perth course.
I really did enjoy the run, and I’d happily sign up and do it again – the support on course from spectators was more than you’d see at the City to Surf, and the privilege of running over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and through the streets of Sydney can’t be beat.
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