Date: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Melbourne Marathon 14 October 2012
Perfect, perfect, perfect, that was Melbourne last Sunday. It was a beautiful spring day with no wind and a comfortable, cool 12 degrees. Arun and I arrived at the start of the 35th Melbourne Marathon about 5 minutes before the gun went and avoided standing around nervously waiting for 7am. We’d warmed up on the 15 minute walk from our hotel and Sadhana accompanied us, while Wendy went for a run to take in the exciting pre race atmosphere.
The night before, we went over our race strategies. Mine was to do the first half no faster than two hours and hopefully do a negative split for the second half and to take my first gel at 10 km, and to take the rest every hour after that. Arun’s plan was a bit more methodical and well thought out. He had a map of the course and knew where every water stop was and when he’d stop to have something to eat and drink. His main concern was the inevitable loss of a few toenails. (See photo)
The course is flat and fast, just had to watch out for tram rails, traffic obstacles and drunk Irishmen. The race started near the Rod Laver Arena and we made our way to St Kilda Road, and at 5kms did a loop of Albert Park, around the lake, then another loop near the lake, past the 10km water station, then ran up to Fitzroy Street and made our way to St Kilda and very long loop on Beaconsfield Parade where we hit the 15km, 20km and 25km marks. Even by the bay, the wind was hardly noticeable and the Spirit of Tasmania was in port. There were still lots of spectators and kids handing out jelly beans and gummie snakes. It was near 15kms that I caught up to Honorary Feral, Stuart McIntosh, the Man in Black. He was running as efficiently as ever, but at a slightly faster pace than I was comfortable with, so we parted just before 20kms. He finished in 3.44. The loop at St Kilda is great for looking for friends and I saw Arun just after I’d passed 20kms and he would have been at about 14kms. We saw each other again, still at in St Kilda when I was at about 27kms and Arun was taking a well earned stop to eat and drink at the 22.5km drink station. We were both still feeling good at this point, hoping it would last! At about 28kms, the course headed back into the city just 14kms to go, with a couple more loops in the city and around the Domain.
I had planned to run with the 4 hour pace group which I stayed with after catching a few kilometres into the race. I stayed with them for a few kms, but I felt good, so picked up my pace and got ahead of them. At around 39kms, the pace group were on my heels, so with not much left, I managed to stay just in front of the group and saw the welcome sight of Wendy cheering me on at 41km. As the MCG came into view, everyone around me seemed to perk up and move a bit faster, someone called out that there were only 600m to go and suddenly we were inside the stadium. A crowd was cheering and the sun was shining and all pain and tiredness vanished. I don’t know how else to describe it except to say it was truly awesome and an unforgettable experience.
After a drink and some fruit, I slowly made my way out of the tunnels to look for Wendyand we waited with loads of spectators for Arun to finish. He finished strong and happy with his time of a bit over 4 hours. Sadhana found us a bit after that at the Dennis Lilly statue. We slowly walked back to our hotel and celebrated later with champagne. Both Arun and I had done PBs and are looking forward to next year, hopefully with a few more Ferals participating. We were also a part of running history as the Melbourne Marathon became the largest Australia marathon with 6128 finishers.