City to Surf

I’ve always admired the stubbornness and stupidity of males – to me this is what separates us from women – we do stupid and impulsive things.  Case it point my decision to ‘run’ (and I use this word euphemistically) Sydney’s City to Surf.  The only reason why I decided to do this race was that last week my car leasing company indicated to me that I was way behind on my mileage for my little VW and that it would cost me thousands of dollars end of the financial year if I didn’t mend my ways.

On hearing this news, I checked the calendar and saw that the City the Surf was this Sunday and so I rang up a former colleague in Sydney, GHP.COM, and managed to get a Blue running bib for the big day.  So preparation was my the key now for me, so on that basis I did do one practice run around home and pulled up okay, so that’s it – I’m ready.

The deal I had with my wife was that I’d take the kids to sports on Saturday morning and then drive up and would be back around dinner time Sunday.  With this timetable, it makes perfect sense that the first thing I did that day was have my hair cut with the new barber.  My view was that I’d be more aerodynamic and I need any assistance available to me – hah!  Dave, the barber, asked me how I wanted my hair cut, and I commented that I’m useless with my hair, don’t brush it or put gel in it, and just want it done so I can come back in about 6 weeks for a repeat.  He sized me up (which you can imagine only takes a moment) and said he’d give me a George Clooney hairstyle, in obvious reference to my greying hair, which only made me feel older and slower.  As I leave he put product in my hair which I duly showered off upon my return.

It was at this time I learnt that my son was not well with a virus and was not going to footy training, and this provided me with the opportunity to ask if my wife would take my daughter to basketball, which she agree d to and this allowed me to leave earlier, around 11.00 am.

The drive is relatively straightforward and simple, and I manage to get on the metropolitan ring road and the Hume without any hiccup.  As a Carlton fan I’m keen to listen to the game against Freo, so reliance on local radio am stations is critical, and let me tell ya, there are some crackers in the middle of nowhere.  The game starts just after I have stopped to have a pie, sausage roll, chocolate doughnut and coke (clearly excellent training food) at Holbrook and I’m listening to the local Wagga radio station 2WG.  The radio cuts in and out throughout and so I decide to download the footy live 2011 app onto my Iphone to ensure I get the scores.  I’ve managed to work out that Carlton is ahead and Eddie Betts is having another blinder but static is winning the battle despite numerous radio changes.  Incredibly, the best quarter I hear is the last and it is on 774.  I have no idea why this happens as I’m now in the Southern Highland region.  I work out from all of this that the Blues are 5 goal winners and I’m happy as Larry, who I understand is a capable runner.

I eventually arrive in Sydney and drop the car off and move my stuff into the hostel I’m staying at.  It’s fair to say the Maze Backpacking establishment, a 1 1/2 star establishment isn’t the best, and I amuse myself by reading reviews, which vary from a warning of “Don’t stay here” to “infested” to “I woke up with bed bug bites”.

Dropping off my stuff I now proceed to the Abercrombie, a pub I’ve never been to but it’s close by and recommended to me by GHP.COM, whom I’m expecting to see there.  I try ringing him and it’s straight to voicemail.  I arrive and I’m there alone and shortly afterwards Tom another colleague appears and I order my chicken parma and beers.  We both wait until about 10.30 pm and it’s a no-show from GHP.COM, who I learnt was attending a squash championship, so we decide to go to another pub for a few scotches and beers so that I can sleep well.  At this place, around the corner of the hostel, we’re amazed by this one guy’s hair that while normal at the front was like the remnants of an explosion at the rear – it made my hair look good which is a feat in itself.  Around 1.00 am I say bye to Tom and retreat to the Maze feeling a bit tipsy and unsure how’d I’d go tomorrow.

I wake up at 7.30 am, change and go to the community bathroom before heading out to Hyde Park to drop off my backpack.  The forecast is 18 and showers, and presently it is spitting a bit but not too bad.  I arrive at information to ask where I put my stuff and am pointed towards trucks that are packing up and going.  Panic sets it when I arrive and it gets worse when I learn that there are no bags left.  I see a used one on the ground and pick it up.  Despite being empty it has a number on it, so I ask for a texta but there’s none around.  As the truck is going right then I have no choice but to use this bag and I throw it into the truck hoping I’ll find my stuff, if and when I arrive at Bondi.

At this moment, I realise that my group (the Blue group) is about to go and I try to move my way through the crowd.  The Blue Group is expected to finish in under 75 mins, and the bib I have is for someone who expects me to complete it in that time – good luck!  Anyway, its too crowded and I cannot move forward before the gun goes off and I’m pretty much at the rear, which is likely to reflect my finishing position.  I put the Ipod on, thinking that the best album to use is the Rolling Stones first compilation album: Hot Rocks 1964-1971 due to its length.  It is a superb choice and the first song starts, which tellingly is Time is on my side.

The pace is ridiculously slow the first few minutes as there is no running space at all which works to my key strength – no pace.  I feel as if I’m in a Collingwood press, and just hoping that Nick Maxwell doesn’t clean me up but somewhat amazingly I don’t see any Collingwood jumpers anywhere – just one bombers.  After a couple of Kms I have got through the Kings Cross tunnel and approach Edgecliff.  It’s not raining and the overcast conditions are actually perfect for running and I just wonder whether I can make it.  Soon I’m in Rose Bay and am greeted by a football team that has dressed up as Smurfs – no Pappa Smurf observed.  The song I’m listening to changes from (I can’t get no) Satisfaction to As Tears go by and I now start Heartbreak Hill – I just hope it doesn’t turn into heart attack hill for me.  Curiously I notice that Heartbreak Hill is being sponsored by RSVP and it has silly messages along the way like “You’re so hot”, evidently in reference to my Clooney hairstyle and possible mid-life crisis.  I am surprised that I seem to be going okay and have no real problems at this stage of the run, making it to the Vaucluse Cemetery with no real dramas, although Sympathy for the Devil is playing on the IPod.  I look at my top and notice that the sweat is concentrated around my gut, confirming my remarkable fitness regime is paying dividends.

For the first time, I now get the sense that I can finish the race and realise that there is only one or two more hills to go before the finish.  At the 10 km mark I realise I have 4km to go and I’m on Military Road and encounter the last hill.  My tactic of going slower that a Port Adelaide defender is working as I manage to start the descent just as You can’t always get what you want finishes.  Now its gravy time, a long and easy slide down into Bondi, to the adulation of the adoring crowd.  It’s at this time I see my first ambulance which stop only a few metres ahead of me to attend to a collapsed runner.  Not 50 metres past that I see another runner being attended to and a third just down from that.  Is it my turn?  That’s not the plan, as I need to drive back that afternoon for work Monday.  Fortunately I step over these wannabes with gay abandon (I’m in Sydney after all), and see the 13 Km sign.  It’s at this point I get annoyed for the first time.  I’m actually in Bondi but the officials make you run past the finish line adding extra distance to the run – its outrageous, against the spirit of the casual jogger.  As I turn the corner, into the final straight (much like Kiwi in the 1983 Melbourne Cup, although with much different outcomes) I realise I must be close to back of the pack, so only now do I make some sort of effort to pick up the speed and move into 2nd gear.  Wild Horse and the album finish on the IPod, and I feel a sense of accomplishment in running hardest at the end and not stopping once during the C2S.

When I pass the finish line, I receive my medal and look at my time – about 77 mins, slower than what I wanted but good enough for the day.  Sorry to the punter I ran for, as he will now be moved to a lower group unless they adjust for the start.  I now get a Gatorade high and have about 6 cups of this varying orange and green fluid before preparing to collect my backpack.  All goes well and I find it in no time thanks to the aid of a 10 year old volunteer.  I pick up my free Sun-Herald and learn that 85,000 lunatics have participated in this grand affair.

It’s time to go and on the PA reference is made to the free public transport option which is tremendous, until I realise that the buses are about a km away and at the top of the hill.  Haven’t I suffered enough?  Luckily I traverse the grass and am quickly escorted away on a bus that smells as sweaty as a local footy change room.

A little later I pick up the car and head back to Melbourne.  Roughly 2,000 km’s in the car in 32 hour period, 14 km run and a few beers with a mate.  A pretty good weekend overall.




  1. Peter Flynn says


    No Fartlek in the preparation?

    Enjoyed the footy references and choice of tunes.


  2. Wow, that qualifies as one of the better shotgun trips I have ever heard. A shotgun refers to the length of travel in comparison to the time stayed in the destination. Usually the sillier the idea surrounding the journey the better.

    To some, driving to Sydney to go for a run would sound absurd. But to others, it makes perfect sense. Even without the required car kms excuse.

    My favourite shotgun was on the train to Canberra to see the Crusaders beat the Brumbies in the snow in a Super 12 final (or was it 10 back then?). My (Aussie Rules) coach wasn’t impressed when I told him I was unavailable as I was “ducking up” to Canberra to watch a rugby match. I was dropped for a number of games for that one.

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