Race Report : Sydney Half Marathon Sunday 18th May 2014
By Crona Brady
When my alarm sounded at 5:00 am last Sunday, it took me a few minutes to remember why I was awake while it was still dark out – I had signed up to do the Sydney Half Marathon and like a lot of things in Sydney, it was an early start time – 6:45am.
Joining the other hundreds of runners, jogging down Oxford St on our way to the start, we were greeted with the over spill from the still going pubs and clubs shouting “you’re making us feel bad!” Turning the corner onto Hyde Park, there were 12,000 people lined up to start the race. I was making my way down not entirely convinced that I could complete the distance as my move to Sydney and exploring all the new places had put running on the back foot; although I did manage to get lost on most of my long runs and had logged a few extra miles. It felt strange lining up with the other runners without another Sportsworld runner in the red singlet.
The last half marathon I competed in was in Galway back in 2010 on a cold October morning. I remember it well as we had a team with four to score and I was suffering badly with a cold. I finished behind Lucy, Jean and Aoife and I remember as I came down the finishing straight, I could see and hear the three of them shouting me on standing shivering in their singlets. That moment sums up what Sportsworld is all about and why so many people chose to join a club!
But back to the race… The course started in the middle of at Hyde Park in the centre of the city and the route was around some of the most stunning surroundings in the world. We made our way down to Circular Quay where we passed the iconic Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge and then into the Rocks area where Sydney’s oldest house is located (built in 1816!). From there the climbs began. For anyone who has visited Sydney, you will know that it is an unusually hilly city. I’m well aware of what goes up must come down but as every runner knows it’s the hills that etch in your memory and the downhills are quickly forgotten as you spend your time trying to get your breath.
From the Rocks, we looped around Darling Harbour, Pyrmont, Potts Point where ships lines the sea front and people stood on the route. The course loops back on itself so runners are going in both directions which is a great distraction! At around the 14km mark, we made another steep climb up towards Sydney Harbour Bridge (which I now know is the tallest steel arch bridge in the world) and back down into the Central Business District where we went through the Botanical Gardens and back into Hyde Park to the finish. At 19km, my lack of running over recent months became very apparent but at that stage I was determined to finish without slowing. So that’s when you begin to rationalize the distance – sure it was only one lap of Bushy Park if you include the dog pond – I could totally do that!
Crossing the finish line, I looked around and saw so many people doing the race for a range of personal reasons. I like them felt a strange sense of contentment that I had covered the distance. On my move here, I hesitated for a long time in joining a running group. After a while however I succumbed and linked up with a Monday night group. And I instantly remembered why I took up running in the first place. It gives you focus, a purpose, a drive. And these are things that are needed in everyone’s life becoming especially important when you are so far away from home. Have I plans to do the Sydney Marathon in September – of course I do (doesn’t every runner get great ideas at the end of every race?!). Realistically though I probably won’t – the graphic details of Will’s race report from Dublin 2013 are still fresh in my mind!