Well I was almost salivating at the thought of all that port, the sweet wine I’ll be imbibing, that I was starting to feel guilt at the excesses that I will most certainly be indulging.
To atone, i steered towards the Gold Coast which was holding its marathon festival that weekend. I signed up for the 10km run on the Saturday. I had planned to watch the marathon on the Sunday, but i had to pack for Gladstone.
The Southern Cross University 10km Run is part of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon festival. This is the first year that the 10 km run is held. I was not going to miss the occasion.
The Marathon course is flat, fast and scenic, taking in the golden surf beaches of Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach and Burleigh Heads and glistening Southport Broadwater.The event was first staged in 1979 with just 691 runners and has grown to become one of the biggest and best holiday marathons in the world. Last year, a record 23,398 people from 42 countries took part, with that figure expected to climb in excess of 25,000 in 2010.
I ran my usual race plan. To finish the race and not embarrass myself. I was about 50 rows back from the startline. When the gun went we all surged forward. The usual pattern played out as i now recognise a familiarity to running this distance.
I tend to go my quickest at the first 2km so i go past some runners, although many more go past me. Starting the third i would settle to my normal jogging pace and maintain this until the final 2 km. In between the first and last fifth of the race i observe the runners in my pace group. Many of them are like me. Middle-aged men and women with some older (50 yrs+) and a few young kids. Sometimes i speed up, and then slow down so as not to be seeing the same pops and nans in front of me. They eventually overtake me again.
The pattern repeats a few times until the final 2 km. At this stage i would be almost exhausted and just going on muscle memory. If i feel any drop of energy left i would pick up speed and try to sustain it to the finish. Most often i would save something for the final hundred meters so i can finish on the trot and not cross the finish line walking. This time i misread the 8km as 9km and sped up only to falter the final kilometre. I jogged as best i can and pretended a sprint on the final 50 metres. The clock showed 53:odd minutes, as i crossed. With the amount of training that i do (not a lot), I can’t really complain.
After crossing the finish line, i stumbled to the sidelines to recover. Later on i walked out to the refreshments stands for something to drink.
The Japanese are into marathon and running events quite seriously. Many of them are over here in Australia not just as participants, but also as support crews and cheerers. They are also here as volunteers for the event.
One young Japanese lad was minding one of the drinks stands, and maybe he thought i was Japanese, so he said: “konichiwa. itchy? knee?” pointing at the water bottles.
I replied: “No son, just sore feet, San”. That was as much as i knew about their language - that you call them something-san, and i was being polite.
He handed me three bottles!
(lame as my legs that one, he he).
I took one water bottle saying “thanks in-san”. He smiled so he must have understood that one.
Many of the elite runners of Australia and some from overseas took part in the race. They were using the race as part of their preparation for the Commonwealth games in New Delhi later in the year.
The locals dominated the 10 km run.
In the feature race on Sunday, the marathon, internationals showed the way. Kenyans Kariuki, Cherus and Chebet blitzed the men’s field while Japanese trio Yoshida, Matsuo and Fujita did the same in the women’s race.
All finishers received a commemorative medallion and a tee shirt. Certificates marking the occasion and achievement were made available online. Photos too. If you're amongst the elites, you'll have plenty.
For some consolation, i was under the average finishing time.