A few words about the Adelaide Marathon Festival!

I am going to try to keep this one brief. (Famous last words, perhaps?)

Last weekend was the 40th Adelaide Marathon and my 4th year of running in the event.

And in 2014 I was there as a spectator!

In 2015 and 2017 I was a pacer for the half marathon (2015 was my first ever pacing gig) and in 2016 I ran the full marathon with friend Beck.

This year, backing up from UTA100 I had originally planned to run the 5k but then I saw the medals for the full, half and 10k, and I decided I needed one! I thought a half would be a bit ambitious but I was pretty confident I’d have a 10k in me. And I emailed club coach Kent to ask if they wanted a 1 hour pacer (I knew there was no way I was going to be getting close to a PB, so I thought I’d rather try to help some other people get their goal times!)

This was what convinced me to run the 10k!

The marathon weekend kicked off with a gala celebration at the Adelaide Town Hall, hosted by the Lord Mayor and featuring special guests, marathon MC Pat Carroll and event ambassador Jess Trengove, fresh from her bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games. Along with those two VIPs were a number of other VIPs – the Adelaide Marathon Warriors and Legends. Warriors are those who have run 10 or more Adelaide Marathons, and Legends have done 25 or more! I can’t even contemplate running the same marathon that many times but I have huge respect for all those who have! It was a great night, I got to catch up with a lot of people and meet some new ones.

On Saturday was the Flamingo Fun Run for the kids – a great initiative, putting it on its own day. A few of my Board colleagues ran in the event and by all accounts it was a lot of fun!

Posing with the mascot!

Saturday was also bib collection day – the crew had been at the Oval on the Friday as well, but with many people working during the week, the Saturday bib collection proved popular! There were also a few expo stands there on Saturday, so people had the opportunity to browse before it got hectic on Sunday!

After collecting my bibs (one race number and one ‘PACER’ bib) I hung around and helped out with the fun job of unpacking the medals and bundling them into bunches of 20 to make it easier for the volunteers to hand them out! I had a great production line going with another volunteer, Peter, who was doing the bundling as I struggled to keep up with the unpacking!

I got to catch up with a whole lot of the volunteers for Sunday, as they came in for a pre-event briefing.

On Sunday I arrived  early for my event, getting to the Oval around 6:30 so I’d get to see the marathoners and half marathoners start, before the 10k start at 8am. Many of the volunteers had already been working for hours by then!

The marathon started at 7am and as always there were a lot of familiar faces out there! As per usual I was pretty happy not to be among the 450-odd runners heading off to run the 42.2km – but the marathon medal was SO pretty so I was ALMOST tempted! The weather was ideal – only a couple of drops of rain and not too cold!

After the marathoners set off, I went to collect my green pacer balloon – I had asked for a yellow or a green one. My outfit was chosen to fit with the hallowed turf of the Adelaide Oval – a retro green and gold Australian cricket shirt and matching cap, with more conventional running attire on the bottom half. My goal was to be easily visible but also relatively comfortable!

The half marathon started 15 minutes before us, and I knew a lot of runners in the half as well! A couple of my fellow Board members, Gary and Veronica, were pacing 2:00 and 2:06 (6 minute kilometres) respectively. There were 6 pacers altogether in the half, to go along with the 7 in the full – I don’t think I’d ever seen that many pacers in one of our events before! Pacing in the half would be tricky – there were around 1000 starters, so with all the congestion they’d probably be walking for a few minutes, and would then need to gradually pick up the pace.

When it came time to start the 10k, I wasn’t sure where to position myself! I was one of two pacers, the other being 50 minutes. On previous occasions, I’d mostly had pacers before and after me, so it was easy to position myself in between. This time I asked around, trying to find some people who were around 1 hour pace, so I could work out where I needed to be.

As for the marathon and the half before us, the 10k kicked off to the sound of AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’. I’m pretty sure the last time I’d heard that song at the Adelaide Oval was when I’d seen AC/DC live there some years ago!

Thanks to Dani for this start line pic!

There were close to 500 people in the 10k so I did find it a bit hard to get going! I would have less time to make up any ‘lost’ time, so I needed to get moving as quickly as possible! My new Garmin watch allowed me to set a 5 second ‘window’ (as opposed to my previous one which had a minimum ‘window’ of 15 seconds) so I had my pace alerts set between 5:55 and 6:00. If I strayed outside this range my watch would let me know!

It only took about 1km to hit my goal pace and I managed to hold onto it the whole way, losing a bit of time on the uphills and trying not to gain too much on the downs! (In my first pacing gig, 3 years earlier, it had taken 7km to hit goal pace, what with the crowds and the undulating terrain!)

I had quite a few people around me but there were a few who were with me more than others. Amelia, a student from the USA who hadn’t been running much since she’d been in Australia for about the past year, was hoping to get sub 60 which was around her previous 10km time. Another girl Anna said she hadn’t run 10km for quite some time, and recently had only done 5km. I told her to think of it as 5km, and then after 5km wipe the slate clean and pretend she was starting 5km again! I wasn’t sure if it would work but it did! (I also spread the parkrun news to Amelia, she hadn’t heard of parkrun before and happily the 10km course took us right past the start of the Torrens parkrun course, which I duly pointed out to her!)

I didn’t stop at any of the drink stations but did remember to say thankyou to all the volunteers! I did see quite a few familiar faces out marshalling, including the ever encouraging Gary and the ever colourful Michelle and Tracey.

It was also great, as always, to see marathoners and half marathoners out on course – it really did seem like I knew everyone!

Towards the end I caught up with Board Chair Voula and fellow board member Gary’s daughter Tahlia, both carrying injuries and both of whom told me beforehand they’d be running with me. They’d been ahead of me all race but eventually I did catch them. Voula got behind a bit but I yelled out to her as she’d asked me beforehand to give her a push if she started to fall behind! It worked!

I was chatting with one of the other girls when I caught Voula and Tahlia, and Tahlia asked me to keep talking as it was a nice distraction! Then we caught up with a girl in front of us who had her iPod in and was loudly singing along – I suggested to Tahlia that if she wanted some entertainment she should stick closely with that girl!

Before too long (less than an hour, in fact!) we approached the entrance to the Adelaide Oval and the finish line. Around here I saw a familiar face, it was Matt, who was running the marathon but had somehow managed to miss the turnoff for the second lap and run into the stadium instead! (I’m sure a lot of marathoners would have been tempted to do the same!)

Into the stadium and onto the oval we went. I realised I was going to be a few minutes ahead of schedule so halfway around the oval I decided to stop and cheer some of the other 10k finishers on for a minute or two, until I got closer to the 1 hour mark. I had started my watch on the gun (something I always do as a pacer) so even those runners who had started ahead of me, were going to get under the 1 hour.

Thanks to Estha for this pic, taken just after I’d had my little break, hence it looks like I didn’t have any ‘passengers’ on my ‘bus’!

My clock time was 59:36 which was respectable although as I said I did have to stop to let the clock catch up! No way was I crossing the line in 58 minutes!

After finishing I had a quick chat with Anna and Amelia who were both happy with their results, and then headed off to get an all-important coffee before helping out at the merch stand which was doing great business, ably manned by Lee-Ann who had been there since about 4:30am! I quickly learned how to operate the Point Of Sale app so Lee-Ann could deal with other stuff, although I am a bit challenged when it comes to working iPhones so I had to ask the customers for help!

A happy group of 10k finishers – Tahlia and Voula in the front.

I caught up with marathoner Jenny who had had to pull out due to injury, and we happened to be out the front of the oval as lead runner John ran past, heading towards the finish line. I then quickly made my way down to the oval to see him finish, it was great to see a local runner take the win as this year there was increased prizemoney which attracted elite runners from interstate. It was the first time I’d have the privilege of seeing the winner cross the line – as a half marathon pacer I’d come in after the marathon winner both times, and when I ran the marathon 2 years ago – well needless to say I was also behind the winner!

I headed back down to the oval for a little while just before 10am, as I knew there would be a lot of marathoners coming in around the 3 hour mark. Just after the 3 hours I saw Amelia, who later told me she hadn’t had a great run but she did manage to get 3rd place – not bad for a ‘bad day’!

After that I spent most of the day in the merch area, chatting to fellow runners who all seemed to have really enjoyed the event, including a number from interstate.

I was almost tempted to join in the 5k, a new addition to the AMF programme, a fundraiser for Arthritis SA, which started at 11am and gave even more people the opportunity to be part of the event.

I saw a lot of the volunteers come back from their marshalling or drink station posts, including my vote for best dressed (with all due respect to Michelle and Tracey!)

The fabulous Cherie and Debbie!

And I had to get the obligatory selfie with marshal Gary, plus he took this pic which I thought was pretty cool!

Mmm, bling! (Didn’t taste as good as it looks!)

The rest of the day went pretty quickly and gradually the crowd began to disperse.

The highlight of the day, which a few people have posted about on Facebook but which I will also mention here, was getting to see not only the first finisher, but also the last. After around 7.5 hours, one of the Adelaide Marathon Legends (having completed over 30 Adelaide Marathons – I forget the exact number), Sue entered the arena and every person who was still at the ground was on the oval at the finish line to welcome her. AC/DC thundered from the PA system and MC Pat Carroll and the crowd gave her a rousing reception. It’s a shame that there weren’t more people there to see it, but hopefully in future years there will be more people there right to the very end (like at the finish of Yurrebilla!) And best of all, she made it back in time to get a coffee before the coffee shop closed (when I had spoken to her at the start, this was her greatest concern about being potentially slow!)

The Legendary Sue, wrapping up the Adelaide Marathon Festival with her thirty-somethingth Adelaide Marathon finish. More marathons than I will ever do! Thanks to Peter for this photo.

Following close behind Sue was Voula’s husband John who was the course sweeper, on a bicycle. I have a lot of respect for anyone who can sit on a bike for that long – great work John!

I managed to sneak away once Sue had finished, but a lot of the core team were still there and would have been there for a good few hours after that (after having been there well before dawn!)

So that leads nicely into the thanks. Anything I say here is going to be completely inadequate because it was a massive effort from a lot of people to make this thing happen. Being there from the start to the finish of the marathon I got to see a whole lot. I don’t want to leave anyone out, and I know there were a lot of volunteers there who put in a HUGE number of hours, but these are the people (some paid, some unpaid) who were there Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and for pretty long hours too: Race Director Ben, SARRC staff Cassandra, Lee-Ann, Paul and Harry, and super volunteer Sheena. Along with that we had Malcolm on timing, course measurer Don, and course marker Peter who started at something like 3am?

Thanks especially to them but also to every single one of the volunteers who helped make this what I would like to say the biggest and best Adelaide Marathon Festival yet! (I can definitely say it was the best one I’ve been involved with!)

Can’t wait to see what next year’s event brings!

Race report – Mount Hayfield 2017

I’ve done this before. Last year, in fact. I didn’t read my 2016 race report in preparation for this year’s race. But you can, if you want to, by clicking here.

All I could remember was, a big bastard of a hill. And a crapload of mud. And having to go straight to a Fathers’ Day lunch, no time for a shower, had to make do with baby wipes. My sweaty, muddy running gear did not get any better smelling after 2 hours in the car in the sunshine!

Anyway, I digress. Mt Hayfield 2017 is what we’re talking about here.

2017 for me has been a year dominated by road and track events. Sadly I have not got in anywhere near as much trail running as I would have liked. Consequently I made the decision some time ago to have a year off from running the Yurrebilla 56km ultra.

I did, however, enter the ‘soft option’ 35k at Heysen which is coming up next month. After 2 years of doing the 105k, I knew I couldn’t do much better than last year, so I wasn’t going to run Heysen at all, but as I had done some course marking last year, I had free entry into Heysen 2017. Hence I’d entered the 35k.

But that still requires training! The 35k goes from the start to Checkpoint 2. In my experience, the section from Checkpoint 1 to Checkpoint 2 is physically the hardest of the whole 105.

So, even though I wasn’t really in peak trail form, I decided to enter the Mt Hayfield long course again. A glutton for punishment, you could say!

The previous weekend I had gone out for a VERY enjoyable and cruisy Chambers loop with Beck, which was meant to be 10k but turned out to be 13.5k. As trail runs often do! I remembered how much I enjoyed trail running and hanging out with kangaroos and koalas!

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Like this little dude 🙂

Running the long course at Mt Hayfield would also help me to contribute some kilometres to my team tally in the RAV Virtual Run. This is a virtual run supporting Run Against Violence – teams of 10 have to complete 1300km in 18 days. I am part of an Adelaide-based team featuring some pretty big names in the local running scene, and am hoping to be able to contribute my 130km, although the way my teammates are going, we may well knock off the 1300km long before I get into triple figures!

One of the main rivals of my team, RADelaide Runners, is another SA team, Yumigo Runners. I knew a few of the Yumigoans would be out at Mt Hayfield, as well as Brody, one of my RADelaide teammates.

Mt Hayfield is a BLOODY LONG WAY away, especially when you have to get up at arse o’clock on a Sunday morning to get there from Adelaide! I had to get up at 5am and leave home at 5:45 to meet a couple of other runners in Yankalilla (not far from the race location) to carpool to the start. Carparking was at a premium and was also likely to be MUDDY. Utes and 4WDs were the order of the day. My little Corolla was neither of those and therefore was unlikely to cut it if the mud got really gnarly!

I had a busy but not too strenuous Saturday, in preparation for a challenging run on Sunday. I did cover a lot of kilometres by car though – I drove to Gawler to try out their parkrun for the first time (I have now done all the parkruns in SA except Port Lincoln – a 6.5 hour drive from Adelaide so that will require some planning!) and then after a quick dash back home I went out with a few other runners, Beck and James, for a lovely lunch for fellow runner Kate’s birthday! (I volunteered to be designated driver – I figured I needed all the help I could get to make Sunday’s run a good one!)

I decided at the last minute to put tape on my feet to prevent blisters – I don’t do that all the time now, only really for marathons or longer, but with likely wet trail conditions I figured it would be a good idea! It rained a LOT overnight and I wasn’t sure if it was going to rain during the race itself, so just to be on the safe side I took 2 rain jackets – one lightweight one that was about as comfortable to run in as a plastic garbage bag but that would fit easily in my small race vest and/or tie around my waist comfortably, as well as my UTA-compliant Gore-Tex jacket which would not be all that great to run in but which would keep me dry if it looked like it would rain quite a bit. (In the end I opted for the former, stuffed into my pack, ‘just in case’). Given that all Trail Running SA events are now cup-free, I also took 2 small bottles of Gatorade in my pack. (I’m glad that ‘cup-free’ has finally caught on – I remember a couple of occasions when I was volunteering on drink stations and some people refused to carry cups or bottles, so when they got to the drink stations they would actually drink directly out of the water casks – that is NOT OK!!)

One of my favourite things about some of the southern races is the drive down. I really enjoy driving by myself, mostly because then I can crank the tunes I like, and sing if I want to! To get to Yankalilla I had to drive through possibly one of my favourite parts of road in Adelaide, the section between the Victory Hotel at Sellicks Hill and Myponga, including passing the epic Buddha statue! (I hear that this spot was chosen out of places around the world!) It’s truly a magnificent view and never gets old, no matter how many times I drive down there!

I got to Yankalilla in plenty of time, so gathered all my stuff and met fellow runner Melissa, a relative newbie to trail running, who was also getting a lift with Adelaide trail runner Jon (Jon is one of the Event Directors and instigators of Cleland parkrun, SA’s first and so far only trail parkrun) who had anticipated the mud and brought his wife’s 4WD along! Jon and I were both running the 20k, starting at 8am, and Melissa was doing the 8k, starting an hour later.

We made it to Mt Hayfield, parked in the mud pit that was the carpark, and made our way through the sludge to collect bibs, say hello to people and do all the stuff you do before a trail race!

A lot of people were gathered at a spot behind the baggage tent, assistant Race Director Maurice jokingly suggesting we were there to get warm, rather than gathering around the fire that the volunteers had gone to great trouble to get going! Actually, we were there to admire the view, but as it turned out, it WAS pretty warm there!

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Cracking view! And a bit of warmth on a chilly morning! What’s not to like?
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Thanks to Gary Denham for this very cool, slightly eerie pre-race photo with the Sykes family!

The sun was out a bit, so I decided to wear a cap and sunglasses. The cap would do double duty, it would keep the sun but also any rain out of my eyes. I also had gloves on as well as the obligatory arm warmers! It was pretty chilly but I was relatively comfortable in what I had on – it was certainly nowhere near as cold as it had been at the previous TRSA event at Mt Crawford! (And fingers crossed, it might not even rain!)

We gathered at the start for the race briefing and then headed off at 8am. I had no expectations, no goal time in mind, in fact I hadn’t even looked at my results from 2016 to aim for a PB. My goal was to just go out there, enjoy it, and use it as a training run. And hopefully finish at a reasonable time so Jon and Melissa didn’t leave without me (joking – they would never have done that!)

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Pic of the start line stolen from Gary! I just realised I’m in it too (well the back of me) at the right of the photo (green shirt, purple skirt)

The first few kilometres were a bit of a blur. We started out running downhill and I managed to run the first few kilometres (I know that because I was almost ready to walk for the first time, looked at my watch, saw I was on 1.9km and thought “I should at least get to 2km before I start walking”!)

As always, there were a lot of familiar faces out there as well as a lot of people I’d never seen before! Trail running in SA is growing constantly so there are always new people getting on board! TRSA puts on fantastic, extremely reasonably-priced and very ‘doable’ events. There’s always a short course on offer, as a great introduction to trails and a perfect option for walkers (and some REALLY fast runners!) The events are in places that are accessible from Adelaide, with challenging and varied terrain as well as often spectacular scenery – there really is something for everyone!

One of the things I like most about trail running is the friendliness and camaraderie out there on the trail. Because most of us mere mortals are running (and let’s admit, often walking) at a much slower pace than we would in a road event, we actually get to chat a bit! (One woman who I was ‘to-ing and fro-ing’ with towards the back half of this race, kept asking how I could be talking AND running at the same time! It’s one of the many charms of trail running!)

Early on I was passing and being passed by a lot of people I’d spent a lot of time with on the trails! One was Stephan, who had just run the course of the Cleland 50k ultramarathon the other day, just for fun! Also there was Trevor, who had run a 20-odd kilometre section of the Heysen trail the previous day! I couldn’t quite understand it, my tactic is to have a relatively quiet few days before an event (some might call it ‘tapering’) but clearly this is not the case for a lot of my fellow trail runners! I suspect many people were using this race like I was, as a training run of sorts. Most of them were probably using it as training for Yurrebilla, which is now only 3 weeks away!

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With Stephan (in the blue) and Brody, looking like we’re having WAY too much fun! Thanks to the official TRSA photographer for this photo!

I passed one of the TRSA committee members, Murray, within the first kilometre or so, only to have him absolutely FLY past me going down one of the early hills! I was like, “I want to be able to run down hills like that!” – I didn’t see anyone smash a hill like that for the rest of the day!

I’m not sure quite what point in the race we were at, but it was early on, before the first big hill, when I met up with Brody. He is a very good runner, and I would not have expected to be running with him at any point, but it turned out that he, like Stephan and Trevor, had gone and smashed out some kilometres on Saturday! (Doing his bit for RADelaide Runners, unlike yours truly!) As a result of that, Brody was a bit tired and so we ended up running together for the rest of the race. Which was really nice. I can only recall one previous occasion when I’ve gone into a race expecting to run it essentially on my own, and ended up running a significant chunk of it with someone else, and that was UTA100 last year when I ran with Anna for a long time – probably at least 8 hours!

Every now and then one of us would say to the other, “Feel free to go ahead if you want to” but both of us were pretty happy to take it relatively easy. We would walk up the steeper hills (and some of the not-so-steep ones) and run the flats and downhills. Brody was more confident on the downhills especially the slippery muddy ones! At one point we had to cross calf-deep water which I didn’t recall having to contend with last year!

If one of us decided we wanted to walk, the other would usually be MORE than happy to follow suit. And one of us might then decide to run, but set a goal that we would run to (usually a tree – there were plenty of those about!) and then we’d both run to that point before walking again. It was a really, really, enjoyable run! I hadn’t run with Brody before so we had a good chat about our running histories and I couldn’t believe he had only been running for a year or so and had already done 2 100km ultras!

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No forced smile here – LOVING it! Thanks to the official TRSA photographer for this photo!
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Pretty muddy and soggy out there! But that just makes it more fun! Thanks to the official TRSA photographer for this photo!

We also saw 2 kangaroos bounding across the track at different parts of the race, making it look easy! I jokingly said to one, “Can I borrow your legs please?” (weirdly enough he didn’t respond!)

Normally I’m pretty competitive, and whenever I see another woman in front of me I am pretty keen to get ahead of her. This time I wasn’t too fussed but I did go back and forth with Zorica a few times. I asked her at one point as Brody and I passed her, if she was doing Yurrebilla and she said something like “Probably not, after today!” Not long after this, I could hear footsteps behind me and there she was, powering (running) past us as we walked up a hill. I called out to her (something like) “You SO have to do Yurrebilla!”

The long course, purportedly 20km, was 2 loops, one 12km and one 8km. The second, 8km loop, was the same course that the 8km runners were doing. We had been assured that it was ‘flat’.

It was not.

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Yeah, nah. Not flat. Not by any stretch!

You could probably have called it ‘RELATIVELY flat’. Certainly flatter than the first 12k which contained 2 hills that I would describe as ‘unrunnable’.

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One of said ‘unrunnable’ hills. See all those tiny dots of people in the distance? They are ALL walking. It did however give us a chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery 🙂

But there was at least one unrunnable hill in the back 8k too! (After the race I was chatting to Ros who was saying that she had been lied to by all her running buddies, having also been told the 8k was flat!)

We started to see 8k runners and walkers who all seemed to be enjoying themselves. In fact, I don’t recall seeing anyone who didn’t look like they were enjoying it.

At one point I saw Kristy, who had started behind us, coming back the other way and got very confused, I couldn’t figure out how she had got in front of us without me knowing! At which point Brody informed me that we were on an out and back section, she was on her way out and we were on our way back! We had been here before! I had no idea!

We were pretty lucky with the weather, all things considered. It started raining lightly in the second half of the race, at which point Brody got his rain jacket out. And then it stopped. I told him “You do realise it stopped raining as soon as you put your jacket on, don’t you?” It did rain again right near the end but I didn’t think it was worth getting my rain jacket out by that stage!

Brody and I had discussed the ‘forced smile for the photographer’ phenomenon, essentially you only have so much energy during a race, and you don’t want to waste any of it forcing smiles EXCEPT when there is a photographer! We saw a photographer right near the end, when we were walking or about to walk, so we ran up the hill and gave it our best smiles, but I commented that they didn’t really need to be forced at this point as we were SO close to the end!

After passing through the last gate it was then a few hundred metres UPHILL to the finish. I’m sure I would have walked at least some of it if I’d been on my own, but Brody started running so I ran too! We discussed who was going to finish first and I said I was MORE than happy to cross the line together (if he didn’t want to go on ahead) which is what ended up happening! (Just like Anna and me at UTA!)

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This picture really sums up the day nicely! Thanks to the official TRSA photographer for this photo!

First port of call was the food tent for an apple and one of Maurice’s famous vegan brownies, then the coffee van, then out of my wet shoes and socks and into some warmer clothes! (I later realised I may have been a bit premature in my removal of shoes, remembering that I still had to walk back through the mud to the carpark!)

Always a popular part of TRSA events is the trophy presentation and the subsequent random prize draw. OK maybe the latter is of more interest to most of us! It’s always nice to see the placegetters get their sweet medals but let’s face it, most of us are not going to be involved in this part! For the random prize draw, on the other hand, there is one rule. If your name is called, and you’ve already left, you not only DON’T win the prize, but you also get to cop the ridicule of all your friends!

I’ve done pretty well out of the random prize draws. In my very first trail event I won a $200 pair of Salomon trail shoes! I’ve also won a Salomon race vest and most recently a $50 voucher for The Running Company! However, today was not to be my lucky day, so after the prize draw was over, Jon, Melissa and I made our way back through the mudbath, into the car and back to Yankalilla to make the longish journey home!

As always, I have to end my race report with a few thankyous. Thankyou firstly to the committee at Trail Running SA for putting on yet another fantastic and highly enjoyable event – I feel a bit like a broken record as I’m pretty sure I say this after every TRSA event but it’s always true! The many volunteers who made it all happen, thanks to each and every one of you, but extra special kudos to those who were on carparking attendant duty – that was a particularly challenging job in the mud! All the runners for just being an awesome bunch of people to share the morning with! Thanks to Jon for giving me a lift from Yankalilla and back again afterwards! And special thanks to RADelaide Runners teammate Brody for being an awesome (unexpected, but very welcome) trail running buddy! I was not expecting to enjoy today’s run anywhere near as much as I did, and I’m sure running most of it with a friend, with no pressure (from myself or anyone else), played a huge part!

Here is a FANTASTIC video of the run, guaranteed to make you want to go out and run it!

Dare I say it, I’m almost kinda wishing I was running Yurrebilla now…

NO. STOP!!!

Race report – Adelaide Marathon Festival 2017

This was the 4th Adelaide Marathon I’ve been involved with.

In 2014 I was thinking of volunteering, but with a girls’ night the night before, I decided not to commit to anything in case I didn’t make it! Instead I decided to dress up as a tiger and hang out by the zoo cheering on my friends who were running (along with everyone else!) As you do.

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In 2015 I had my first experience as a pacer in the half marathon, pacing 2:00, and you can read all about that here.

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With fellow half marathoner and event ambassador, the legendary Steve Moneghetti!

Then in 2016 I ran the full marathon for the first (and possibly only?) time, trying to get Beck across the line at BQ (Boston Qualifier) pace. You can read all about that adventure here.

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No Steve, I’m not stalking you, I promise!

In 2017 I was back to pacing the half again. As I have stated in a previous post, I was originally slated to pace my usual 2:00 but after a particularly sluggish 16k Sunday run at slower than 2:00 half marathon pace, I decided to request a change to uncharted territory, 2:15. That was between 6:21 and 6:23 per kilometre.

Before pacing 2:00 (which I have now done 4 times) for the first time, I practised running at this pace in the weeks leading up to the event. This time, I was just winging it!

On the Saturday I went to the event expo at Next Generation to collect my bib and AWESOME event merch, and see if they needed a hand with anything.

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Yes. I appear to have lost all of my limbs!

I ended up staying until the end and helping shift the gear to the nearby Adelaide Oval for the morning. In the process of breaking down some boxes for recycling, I managed to hit the window with my elbow with great force (fellow volunteer, pacer and board member Gary said the window shook!) and proceeded to walk around the room swearing for the next few minutes – hitting your ‘funny bone’ is anything but, except possibly for everyone else watching!

SARRC staff Cassandra, Lee-Ann and Harry still had a lot of work to go when I left at around 5:40, and would be there many hours before me the following morning. It seemed hardly worthwhile going home!

In the morning Beck picked me up and we arrived at the Oval around 6:30 to help out as needed with bag drop etc, but everything seemed to be in order so we were able to wish the marathoners well (including first timers Maxine, Dana and fellow SARRC board member Veronica, pacers Jim and Coralie, and runner of 3 marathons in 3 months, Peter!) and see them set off.

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The reason we look so happy here is because we are NOT running the marathon like the suckers behind us! One lap was plenty for us!

After the marathon started we had 45 minutes before it was our turn! Time for a quick wardrobe change, toilet stop, bag drop, balloon collection and a few obligatory photos!

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With Nat, going for a sub-2 hour, and Beck, hoping for the best but with no real expectations!
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With the very awesome Paul Kitching, hoping to catch a ride on my 2:15 bus! Thanks PK for the photo!

It wasn’t too long before we were lined up at the start – I positioned myself between Gary, pacing 2:06 (6 minutes per km) and the 2:30 pacer.

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Ready to roll!
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One of my favourite pics of the day – thanks Sputnik for this start line pic!

I started my watch on the gun, aiming to cross the finish line in exactly (or just a few seconds under) 2:15. By my calculation that would be exactly 10am.

Unlike my first time pacing, I managed to hit my goal pace of 6:21-6:23 within the first 3km.

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Official photo. From near the start where it looks like I have friends!

I didn’t have many people running with me throughout the 21.1km but one person I did run with for a short while was PK. He was behind me in the above pic, he was ahead of me for a while, and for a little while we ran together and had a nice chat – thanks PK!

The first hint that pacing might be a bit of a guessing game, was when my watch showed 4.8km as I reached the 5km marker. With GPS being notoriously inaccurate, I couldn’t rely 100% on what my watch told me.

One of the great things about this event is that you get to see the other runners quite a few times – both those who are waaaaay ahead, and those who are towards the back of the pack, including regular running/walking buddy Neil, who was the sweeper for the half marathon. We also saw the marathoners, although we mainly just saw the super fast guys and the people who were behind the 4 hour pacers. I didn’t seem to cross paths with the ‘middle of the pack’ people!

Among the ‘super fast guys’ was actually a woman, you may have heard of her, her name is Jess Trengove and she was the ambassador for the event. She was a great person to have out there, as she was so encouraging to everyone and really seemed to be enjoying herself! And afterwards she was more than happy to pose for pics with anyone!

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Thanks to Ali, left of pic and undisputed Queen of the Selfie, for this awesome pic! And thanks to Jess for being part of it!

Unlike the previous weekend’s City2Surf, there weren’t a lot of people in crazy costumes – I guess it’s hard enough to run a marathon or half marathon in normal running kit, let alone Batman costumes or the like! I did see one ‘Batwoman’ running the half, and later on at the coffee shop realised it was someone I knew, accomplished triathlete (and Ironman) Karen!

Also dressed up but not running in the event was my Boston buddy Maree, who dressed up as Supergirl and encouraged runners up one of the last little hills in the last few kilometres. She later said she was quite sore and wondered why, given that she hadn’t been in the event – but then realised she had effectively done a hill repeat session! I was running with fellow SARRC board member Megan at this stage, Megan and I had been running much of the second half of the race together, and Maree was great, encouraging Megan. At this point I started running a little bit ahead, partly to pull Megan along but also because I really wanted to come in as close to 2:15 on the finish line clock as I could.

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Thanks to Steve Trutwin for this great picture of Megan and me, taken in Elder Park with just a few kilometres to go!
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Beck and I with Maree after the race! The first thing I said to Maree when I saw her during the race, was “I might need to borrow that costume for my next event!”

As we passed the Adelaide Oval and the spot where we’d started the race, the 3 hour marathon pacers and their ‘bus’ passed me. Theoretically we should have been finishing at the same time (the marathon having started 45 minutes before the half) – that was when I realised my pacing may have been a little bit off!

I was on my own by this stage, Megan not far behind. And apparently there were a few other runners with their eyes firmly on my red balloon, but it wasn’t until afterwards that I found out that I DID actually have some ‘friends’ following my ‘bus’!

I remember the run up King William Road and then the left turn onto Pennington Tce last year being quite tough – Pennington Tce in particular seemed like quite a steep hill by then! This year was no different – although my legs were a little fresher, it was no less steep!

From Pennington we ran down the driveway into the northern carpark and up to the entrance of the Adelaide Oval where for many years I’d line up at the crack of dawn each day of the Adelaide Test match!

Through the gate I ran, up the ramp and onto the hallowed turf!

And then the most surreal thing happened! Earlier in the day, before we’d started, the Adelaide Marathon promotional video, of which I had been a part, was playing on high rotation on the big screens both outside the gates and inside the Oval. So as I ran onto the oval, I had the very weird experience of seeing my mug, larger than life, on the big screen! Definitely not something that happens every day!

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THIS!!!!!

Then I spotted Mick in the grandstand, he took a few pictures with his phone and sent them to me – thanks Mick!

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Nigel No-Friends! Thanks Mick for this great pic!

I crossed the finish line in 2:15:21. I was pretty close to hitting my goal time but the problem was that my Garmin showed I’d run 21.3km instead of 21.1, which accounted for my slower than expected time, even though my average pace was 6:20 per kilometre, actually slightly faster than my goal pace of 6:21 – 6:23. It had to be either a GPS error, or me covering more ground than I needed to by trying to high five all of the kids! I know the course was accurately measured! Anyway, hopefully everyone that was trying to stick with me, managed to get under 2:15 despite my little miscalculation!

After getting my BEAUTIFUL medal I met up with a few of my running buddies who had run the 10k and the half (all of my friends in the half had thankfully been WELL ahead of me – none of them had wanted to see me after the start! Even Voula, who had said she’d run with Gary for a bit and then with me, had never made her way back to my bus! (Don’t worry Voula, I won’t take it personally!)

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With Beck and Nat after the race. Both had come in under 2 hours!
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Another great selfie by Ali! Nat’s very excited in the background! And Sally’s hair is showing how windy it was by this stage!
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With Nat, Beck and Libby showing off our bling! Libby happy to get through under 2 hours after coming back from injury!

We had time for a quick coffee and wardrobe change before heading back to the finish line to see Max, Dana and Veronica finish their first marathons, and Peter finish his 3rd in 3 months!

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Bling – check. Coffee – check. Feet up – check!

As always, there are a LOT of people to thank. Adelaide Marathon is the biggest event of the year for SARRC and it takes many people to make it happen!

In particular I need to give a big shout out to Race Director Ben Hockings who put on another stellar event. I always enjoy running (and/or volunteering at) your events Ben and this one was no exception! Luckily Ben is superhuman and does not require sleep! Because I don’t think he would have got much in race week!

Then there were the SARRC staff, including Cassandra, Lee-Ann and Harry, and Board vice-president Voula who put in a seemingly impossible number of hours on the day and in the weeks leading up, to make this event happen! (There were many others too, but they were the ones I was particularly aware of!)

Then of course there were all of the wonderful volunteers! HUGE thanks to each and every one of you! A particularly tough job was the marshal role, especially those who were in isolated spots and spent many hours standing there directing runners (no doubt many of whom were wearing headphones!) – special mention to Riesje, Ziad and Gary’s wife Joanne.

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With the super awesome bike marshal Tracey who got many positive comments for her spectacular outfit and bubbly manner!

And of course, well done to all the runners, without whom there would be no event!

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Will run for bling!

What a GREAT day!

“Your pace or mine?” – pacing the Adelaide Half Marathon

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Yesterday I had the honour and privilege of being a pacer in the half marathon at the Adelaide Running Festival. It was a no-brainer for me really. I had decided early on in the year that I was not going to enter any of the events, having committed to the Barossa Marathon, and my later decision to enter the Gold Coast Marathon confirmed my decision. 2 marathons in one year was plenty for me! Besides, my focus after Gold Coast was always going to be trail and ultra training. So very early in the piece I had emailed Michael, the event director, and offered my services as a volunteer. I didn’t care what role I did, I just wanted to be involved in some way.

Some time later, I received an email from SARRC seeking pacers for the marathon and the half. I definitely didn’t have another road marathon in me, I was completely unprepared for that, but I could always manage another half! As volunteer roles go, this is a pretty good one as you also get to run!

For those unfamiliar with the concept,  a pacer is someone who runs at a set pace, with the aim of finishing just inside a specified time. The idea is that those runners who want to run around that time, can follow or run with the pacer,  then they don’t have to concentrate on their pace, they can just ‘sit back and relax’ while the pacer does all the work! The pacer is usually carrying brightly coloured balloons to make themselves visible, and often wearing a wacky outfit.  Yeah…  I could do that!

When I had had my shit run at Clare earlier in the year, and had seen how much my friend Sarah had enjoyed pacing her friend in her first half (in a MUCH slower time than me), I thought “There’s something in this pacing caper… I should really try it one day”

So, with little hesitation, I put my hand up to pace 2:15, well within my capabilities (all my halves have been in the 1:40s). I was quickly talked out of this. I didn’t do the sums at the time, but 2:15 is an average pace of 6:23 per km. In contrast, my best half marathon for this year was an average pace of 4:53. Although it should theoretically be easy to run at a much slower pace than my best, it really isn’t! The easiest pace is your natural pace. Anything much faster or slower than this is an effort. I’d be exerting more effort than those who I was pacing! So I quickly changed to the 2:00 pacer which is average 5:38 per km. MUCH more comfortable for me!

At the moment I think I could probably beat my PB if I were to race a half marathon. I have managed to do PBs over every distance I’ve raced this year (12k PB came during the 14k City2Surf but I’m confident of an official 12k PB at City-Bay this year) except for that elusive half marathon! The good and the bad of pacing is that a PB is off the table. Good because it takes all the pressure off me. Bad because I could get frustrated knowing that I could run so much faster. But when pacing you have to have this mindset: “Today is not about me. It is about helping all these people to achieve their goals. My goal today is to get as many people across the line under 2 hours, as I can.”

Being a pacer is a big responsibility! You don’t want to let anyone down. Run too fast early and you could lose people, and they may not have the capacity to catch you again. Run too SLOW and you might miss the target time.

I heard a story last week about a pacer that clearly put himself first. He was a 3 hour pacer in a high-profile marathon. During the race he realised he was on track for a PB and he ditched his balloons (and in turn the people who were relying on him) and went and did his own thing! Needless to say those who were running with him were NOT happy! I don’t know if he got his precious PB but hopefully karma stepped in and he didn’t!

I’d never paced before, other than 30 minutes (6 minute kms) at parkrun when I still wanted to run but I was saving myself for a race the next day. I didn’t really know how to go about it, so I asked my knowledgeable Facebook friends for some advice. The general consensus was that I needed to talk and give constant encouragement to my ‘posse’. A constant pace was important,  something that had never been one of my strong points!

One of the things I decided to do to get my pacing right was to go out for a few runs at 5:38 pace. In the week leading up to the event I did 3 5k runs at race pace. In all of them I ended up averaging 5:35 which was not too bad. In fact in one of my regular runs that week I also averaged the same pace so that seemed to be my ‘comfortable’ pace! The later 5k runs were more consistent pace too, not so much up and down, so I was confident I could run at that pace on race day. My Garmin has a ‘pace alert’ setting and I had it set for 5:30-5:45 (15 seconds was the minimum ‘window’ you could set) so if I ran outside that range it would alert me.

Next item on the agenda was race kit. Well actually that was the first thing I had worked out. It’s useful for a pacer to wear an eye-catching outfit (as well as the coloured helium balloons) to be easily visible. It didn’t hurt that I also don’t mind getting dressed up and making a bit of a fool of myself! So I thought I’d go in my Snow White outfit (sans wig – I couldn’t see myself running 21.1km in a scratchy wig!) and yellow balloons. The socks I would wear were white football socks, which were NOT my standard Nike anti-blister socks, so I taped my feet in the blister-prone arch regions. On race eve I debated whether on not to wear a hat… I had never raced without one but it might look a bit weird with my Snow White headband on top of a hat! Decisions, decisions! (In the end, no hat won the day and I was glad of that because it looks much better in the photos. Always think of the photos!)

It had already been a fantastic running weekend. Friday night I had been to a function at SARRC with race ambassadors (and LEGENDS) Steve Moneghetti and Pat Carroll. Saturday those two had come and run Torrens parkrun with 300-odd others and I had managed a new PB – first time under 21 minutes for 5k! Given that I was going to have to run within myself on Sunday I thought a hard hit-out on Saturday wouldn’t hurt!

The alarm went off at 5:45am on Sunday and I was raring to go. All my kit and breakfast had been prepared the night before so it didn’t take too long for me to be ready and out the door.  The plan was to get there in time to see the start of the marathon at 7, the half starting 50 minutes later. Unfortunately the road closures which were supposed to start at 7, were already in place, so the subsequent detour cost me some time and I had a blonde moment or 2 trying to get out of the Adelaide Oval carpark! I didn’t get to wish everyone good luck for the race but I did get there just in time to see the start.

It was a bit cold but I didn’t have a matching jacket to go with my Snow White outfit so I decided to do an early bag drop and then went to get my yellow helium pacer balloon. Initially we were going to tie it to the bow at the back of my skirt but quickly realised that would result in those following me potentially having to look at my Skins-covered arse for the duration, so we quickly changed to the shoulder strap!

After posing for a few photos and wishing a few friends well (some of whom didn’t want to see me during the race… I didn’t take offence, that just meant they wouldn’t be doing as well as they’d hoped), and a quick media interview (promo for next year’s event, look out for that one!) it was time to head to the start line. It was ideal running weather, a bit chilly to begin with but the chill soon wore off and the sun was very warmly (pun intended) welcomed!

I had planned to start my watch as I crossed the start line but Min-Qi who was standing next to me said I should go with gun time, to account for people who were starting way behind me (there were over 1000 runners in the race). I hadn’t considered that – a lesson for next time! I didn’t quite start my watch on gun time but not long after.

The start was a bit slow due to the congestion, which was to be expected. I wasn’t too concerned – there were plenty of kms to make up the time. It was actually probably for the best because I do have a tendency to start too fast (I had warned my posse that this might happen and not to be alarmed as I would slow down as soon as I realised).

I was on my own pretty early on as a few of the girls I run with regularly who were in my posse (Sally, Victoria, Ali and Libby) had taken off… happily they all made it in under the 2 hour mark even without my help!

It took about 8km to reach my goal pace of 5:35 per km, due to the slow start, gun time vs net time confusion, and also the fact that I didn’t want to increase the pace too quickly.

I really enjoyed the run. I quickly got over having people recoil in horror at seeing me go past them… I kind of felt like the Grim Reaper! I quickly reassured them all that I was running UNDER 2:00 pace so they didn’t need to worry,  they just needed to keep me in sight. Not hard to do, given my outfit!

I didn’t have anyone running with me the whole way but people came and went. It didn’t really matter whether they were with me, just behind me or just in front – what mattered was that they knew I was there, and that they were ‘there or thereabouts’ when it came to pace.

Because I was running a bit slower than usual, I was able to enjoy the scenery and some of the more eye-catching cheerleaders (Tracey, Nikki and Michelle in their bright wigs, Hoa and Rula with their cowbells near the end, and the 2 ‘mad cows’ in their onesies with their motivational signs in the Botanic Gardens, to name just a few!).

Like Barossa, there were a few points where we got to see some of the marathoners – one particularly memorable moment was when a marathoner dressed in full Spiderman suit was high-fiving people along War Memorial Drive… I find it hard to imagine running a full marathon in such an outfit!

I didn’t stop at any of the drink stations and I didn’t have any nutrition with me, but running well within myself I never really felt I needed it. I just wanted to concentrate on holding a steady pace, and I didn’t want to lose momentum.

Towards the end I was running behind a girl (Sarah I think her name was) who was struggling a bit and she had a friend running with her for a while. It was near Jolley’s Boathouse. It was around that point that I saw the sign that said ‘Marathon half way’. I said to her, “It could be worse… you could be running the marathon!”

I thought I was comfortably inside 2 hours (I was looking at somewhere between 1:58 and 1:59) but as I ran past the girls with their cowbells, near the Festival Theatre, well inside the final km, I heard the MC (Pat Carroll) from the other side of the river, saying something about nearly being at the 2 hour mark for the half! CRAP! Had I miscalculated? Surely not! I quickly yelled out to anyone who was in earshot “Right! Gotta go!” or words to that effect, and took off. I also said “This is the best bit! Enjoy it! Remember it!”

As I ran onto the very picturesque Riverbank Footbridge I started yelling, screaming and cheering. I was proper running now. I remembered having run the ‘trial run’ the week before last year’s Marathon, and when I had reached this point, for a split second I wished I was running it for real, so I could experience this amazing finish.

I don’t know if there is any video of the finish line but if there is I’d love to see/hear it… the way I was carrying on you’d think I’d won the thing! It was a mixture of excitement and relief… according to the clock it was about 1:59:30 and according to the official (provisional) results it was 1:58:16 (based on the time I crossed the start line). I had done my job and it was so great to see so many people get under that magical 2 hour mark. I also got a pretty sweet piece of bling to show for it!

I hung around the finish line for a while to see the presentations, watch some friends finish their marathons, and chat to some of the people who had been running with or around me. It was starting to get a bit chilly by then and a bunch of running friends were going to the pub for a celebratory beverage, so after a few last minute photos I headed back to the car, satisfied with my day.

I just want to take this opportunity to thank SARRC and each and every one of the volunteers who made this such a fantastic event. Nearly 500 runners in the marathon and over 1000 in the half, not to mention the shorter events – it really was a huge undertaking and they did a stellar job. Certainly it seemed that SARRC had some contacts upstairs because the weather was just perfect, but weather aside it was a magnificent event, despite the hiccup with the half marathon medals. Everyone will get their medals eventually.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. I’m actually considering offering my services for the McLaren Vale half in October… initially I wasn’t going to run that one as I’m racing the Masters Games half the day before… but I’ll put my hand up if they want me!

Would I recommend pacing to anyone else? HELL YEAH! I had the BEST time. Yes, it’s a big responsibility but the payoff is well worth it!