Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The Clem7 Tunnel Run

The clem7 tunnel run.
The north-south bypass tunnel here in Brisbane finally opened last night (15th march 2010).
This after weeks of anticipation and even radio call-in guessing competitions for when it will open. The official opening follows the open day two weeks ago on the 28th February.

Before the open day there was a fun run.
I ran over the Brisbane river before.
bridge to brisbane (10km run)

Now i'm about to run under it.

Having worked on the tunnel intensively for the best part of the last four (4) months, and on and off over the last three (3) years, i thought i should take part in the run and check out the inside of the tunnel. I have only been involved in outside (surface) works on my job doing deliveries.
On the day, i dragged myself out of bed in the wee hours (0400h), got to a sidestreet near the northern portal at about 0500h, walked a few hundred metres to the race assembly, and being one of the early birds managed to find a spot just near the start line.

On a Sunday morning side run.
Dawn at the north portal of the Clem7 tunnel.
About an hour before the run.

It was a bit gloomy as there was some rains threatening all week. (the rains did come in March - with a vengeance, but for today - it was a fine morning for the race).
After a few minutes of noisy chatter from the race announcers, finally the time came for the run.
Part of the almost 5000 crowd jostling for a spot near the start line.

The day was breaking and the sun tried peeping through the clouds as the elite runners got called up to the front for the start.
At 0600h the starter fired the shot (wasn’t heard around the tunnel) and off we went.

I was feeling okay at the start, but a few minutes in at about the 3km mark, my bladder started complaining and sent pain messages to my brain. As any aspiring medical doctor still in prep-school will tell you, nerves quicken the build-up of urinary fluids. It doesn’t help that one had a cuppa coffee and twice that amount of water, just prior to the race start.
I held on up to the 4km mark but lots of people were queueing at the portaloos. So i plodded on and somehow got to the turning point (around 5km). I paused to quickly snap a photo before joining the run.

At the halfway mark.

After what seemed like a very long kilometre I got to the 6km feeling a tad woozy. Luckily the toilets there were unoccupied, and i topped up the water closet by maybe two litres.

I lost about 2 minutes as i re-joined the race. And that’s when the humidity hit. The almost imperceptible gradual descent to the tunnel’s low point of 60m below the Brisbane river, was like running with lead weights. But that was bearable compared to the final 2km-2.5km ascent up to the finish line.
I heard sportspeople talking of ‘hitting a wall’. Now i know what that means. I was getting dizzy and could no longer focus on the race. I just knew that i did not want to collapse in the depths of the tunnel, so i concentrated on slowly putting one foot in front of the other and guided by the other runners around me, somehow kept on going. I snatched a water squincher at the last drinks stop, as the heat and humidity seemed to keep rising (I learned later that there was some issue with the ventilation and fans in the tunnel – "an absolute stinker" is how a runner-blogger Helen described it).
From the dim depths, suddenly a light seemed to appear in the distance. I told myself that the end is near, so i kept jogging towards the daylight. What seemed like a couple of hundred meters to the end, was actually a lot farther – maybe 800m. I could no longer lift my legs when i finally made it to the finish line. The one-hour race time (which was my target) had come and gone, but i was just relieved to finish on my feet.

Some NSBT trivia:
• Brisbane's CLEM7 is Australia's longest road tunnel
• The tunnel stretches 4.8 kilometres underground
• Cost $3 billion
• tunnel links Bowen Hills on the city's northside to Woolloongabba in the south
• officially opened by the Lord Mayor Campbell Newman at 10:00pm AEST on 15 March 2010
• four entrances - one on the northside and three on the southside.
• project was completed seven months early.
• 12,000 men and women worked for three-and-a-half-years
• Tunnel was named in memory of the Dr Clem Jones, [former] lord mayor of Brisbane

Some of the 4400 finishers:
1 Hintsa Mebrahtu 32:56.8
2 Jonathan Peters 33:11.7
3 Neil Labinsky 34:39.0
4 Alexander Rose 35:48.7
5 Dennis Fitzgerald 36:36.0
6 Masayuki Atsumi 36:40.9
7 Keith Williams 36:50.7
8 David Kalinowski 37:12.5
9 Patrick Nispel 37:20.8
10 Roxie Schmidt 37:23.1

 The rest (there are a few Martins and some of the Martin families too):
125 Martin R 46:20.7
215 Martin S 49:05.4
307 R Martin 51:09.3
463 Martin W 53:58.7
532 K Martin 54:59.2
554 Martin Sc 55:13.5
845 Martin Sch 58:52.3
895 Martin P 59:26.7
918 Unknown Partic. 59:41.5
1174 Martin Polichay 1:02:07.0
1308 Unknown Partic. 1:03:11.3
1416 Unknown Partic. 1:04:09.0
1636 Dean Martin 1:06:09.7
1731 Martin Spu 1:06:59.7
1808 Martin Shi 1:07:40.6
2318 Martin Gol 1:12:10.7
2358 p martin 1:12:31.8
2502 R Martin 1:13:48.7
2550 Martin B 1:14:22.7
2695 Pa Martin 1:15:53.0
3020 Martin He 1:18:50.1
3025 Martin Le 1:18:54.6
3048 Martin M-Woods 1:19:26.7
3255 B Martin 1:22:30.0
3390 Martin Sha 1:24:23.5
3485 Ni Martin 1:25:52.4
3486 Unknown Partic. 1:25:52.8
3551 Martin Seym 1:26:59.4
3570 Martin Ho 1:27:20.7
3931 MARTIN CES 1:38:04.8

 There's a couple of unknown runners. maybe they're 'tea n tea' like me. he he.

The 10.45km CLEM7 Tunnel Run was a once-off. It's not to be repeated, so in a sense, it was a historic once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And to finish the run (limited to 5000 participants only) is an achievement.
I finished in the top 30* which is a bonus.

matey, you're blocking my line.

medal and bib for the one-off clem7 tunnel run.

next time i'll train at low altitudes - in the humid regions...
and i'll double my efforts - jog twice a year!
(that's my mousdash 2009 singlet)

ps. that should have been the top 30% - typo that he he.
tho i did finish in the top 30 of the Martins!
Ah the stories to tell when i get back home.

My running history:
  1. 2008 bridge to brisbane (5km) 0:27:30
  2. 2009 bridge to brisbane (10km)   place 6600 (out of 45,000 runners)  time 0:59:59
  3. 2009 mousdash (10.5 km mt coot-tha) place 373 (out of 650 plus runners)   time 1:03:50
  4. 2010 clem7 tunnel run (10.45km) place 1175 (out of 4,400 runners)   time 1:02:10
  5. where to now? fade into the twilight perhaps?


  1. Congratulations Martin! Not bad effort. Here's hoping you can do more and more runs in the future. A great way to keep fit! and free, too.

  2. Thanks ading Kristine. I try and run when i can. had i started years or decades ago, i might be fit and young-looking and dangerous he he. now never mind.


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