13 Aug

What do you get when you take over 85,000 people, 14 km of hilly roads, and one very cold and blustery day?  It can only be this year’s Sydney’s City2Surf. My starting gun went at 8.30 am in the city on Sunday and 73 minutes later, I crossed the finishing line at Bondi Beach after completing the world’s largest annual running event.

Channelling my inner ‘Mo’, I managed to beat my target of finishing in 80 minutes. The training finally paid off and I am sure the added adrenalin and fantastic atmosphere, with the crowds along the roadside, the live music striking up along the route and the huge numbers of runners, spurred me along. I had been fairly nervous the night before the race; the weather on Friday and Saturday had been horrendous with winds of over 100kph and lashing rain. The forecast was not much better for Sunday and it was arguably the worst weather in the event’s 31-year history, but despite a chill in the air and the odd strong gust of wind, Sunday stayed dry and the weather did nothing to dampen the spirits of everyone in the starting groups at Hyde Park.

I have never experienced being right in amongst so many thousands of people before. As far as the eyes could see were bodies, limbering up, jumping up and down, cheering; a sea of colourful running gear, caps and fancy dress costumes. The elite athletes set off first, followed by runners who had a qualifying time and half an hour later, my blue group were off. Minutes before the gun was fired, the sky was obscured with hundreds of items of clothing: jumpers, trousers and tops; flung into the air as people stripped off ready to run. The clothes are collected later by the Girl Guides for charity. I had managed to get as close to the front of my group as I could so it was only a minute before I was running over the starting line pads and from then on, I never looked back and was happy to find myself overtaking as many people as were sprinting past me!

I was aware Heartbreak Hill was approaching (hard to ignore the banners and flags being waved to remind you!) but strangely it did not seem much of a struggle and as soon as it began to flatten, I picked up the pace again and before I knew it, I was rounding the corner of Military Road and Bondi was in sight. I was spurred along again by the sight of James, Caroline and our neighbour, Katie, who were there at Bondi Beach to cheer me on and it was a fantastic feeling to cross the finishing pads 73 minutes and 18 seconds later.

I was so pleased with my finishing time but decided I really could have pushed myself to do it faster, especially as I had enough to put in a sprint finish for the last few hundred metres.

It was a fantastic day, despite the cold, and I have definitely been encouraged to do a few more races now and hopefully City2Surf next year as well. It was a particularly pertinent time for the event with Olympic fever having swept across the country, and having missed the excitement and atmosphere of having the Olympics in our home country, it was a little bit of sporting action we could get involved with. My medal may have been of a very different metal and I certainly broke no records but as a first-timer, I did achieve a PB and who knows, next year, I might be competing against James and a few other friends as well, who have now said they’re keen to take on Heartbreak Hill!

I also have to mention the generosity of everyone who sponsored me for beyondblue. I managed to double my target and raise over $500, which is fantastic and, although there was no blood and very few tears, it makes all the sweat very worthwhile!


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