Report by Richard Cook
Race Date: 16th September 2018
Four years since I ran my first half marathon, and I was back again, this time a fair bit wiser, and with a game plan to get a new PB. Its 5.30am, its absolutely freezing (it does get cold I kid you not) and I am milling around with the other 8,000 or so half marathon entrants waiting for the start. I entered into the “A” group and first selection of “normal” runners who were set to go sub 1 hour 55mins, I had done my training both in the UK (thanks to the Tuesday workshy group / Ian Blackburn), and in Australia, so I was all set.
Find the 110 minute pacer, and stay ahead of them! That was the plan.
However, as with all the best laid plans, this went to pot as I stood in the lengthy queue for the toilets and I heard the gun go off promptly at 6.00am. This now meant that I had to fight through the “B” group walking up to the start line and then get past them to give me a chance to do the time I wanted! With a bit of “on your right” and “coming through” I managed to squeeze my way through so that once I made the turn and got onto the harbour bridge, I was able to push on and get into a steady rhythm and start to work my way towards the back of the “A” group. The course is really really flat – the high point is actually the middle of the bridge, and the total elevation is around 150 metres in total – and this makes for a fast run. Passing the 120 minute pacers before I exited bridge gave me a fair bit of confidence that I could be on for a decent time, as we made our way up into the city and made the turn back down towards the circular quay area. Then I caught sight of the 110 minute pacers ahead, and we were only 10km into the course. Bonus! A quick check of the watch and some basic maths – I was on for a 100min time or so I thought. Little did I know that my watch had me about 1km further ahead than I actually was – so that put paid to that idea. Plenty of wide open flat roads to carry on pushing through with a few annoying out and backs, and before I knew it, it was 5km to go, and I could see the Opera House in the distance. The spectators started to build up at the sides of the road with 2-3km to go, and I ran under the bridge one last time before making the final push for home. Going past the ferry terminal and towards the concourse to the opera house, the crowds carry you along, and over the line in a time of 1 hour 46 minutes. 12 minutes quicker than the last time – so pretty stoked about that. The support team (Melanie Cook) provided the post-race sustenance (mars bar), and then it was time for breakfast.
Full of iconic landmarks, and a unique experience being able to run over the harbour bridge, the Blackmores Running Festival does provide a good event, over 37,000 participants, with full and half marathon courses along with a shorter 10km “bridge run” – its certainly worth doing if you can.
The men’s race was won by Ben St Lawrence in 01:05:17 and the women’s race was won by Belinda Martin in 01:15:52. There were 8023 finishers and Richard was the only strider.
Link to full results here.