Sunday, 29 August 2010

on the run in brisbane

Brisbane marathon festival 2010 (10 km run).
I like visiting Brisbane - the river city.

A couple of weeks ago I travelled there for the Brisbane running festival. When it's wintertime in Australia, any excuse is a good enough excuse to go up to the warmer climes of Queensland. I was there to work too but that’s by the by.

The 10km event looped around the great sights of the Brisbane river in the city reach at the north banks and the riverbanks in South Brisbane.
On the day i turned up nice and early, cold and - shiver me timbers - shivery.
Prior to the start, runners congregated at the Southbank Piazza for the pre-race instructions.

We then sauntered a couple of hundred metres to the tree-lined Grey street opposite the Imax theatre for the start. I haven't been to Imax for some while. Perhaps it's closed.

The course included a tour of southbank – Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (BCEC), Southbank parklands, Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), Gallery of modern art (GOMA), the State Library of Queensland, and Queensland museum.
Brisbane, the river city, is also a city of bridges. The race ran over the newly opened Go-between bridge and the popular pathway/cycleway Goodwill bridge. Runners would also have caught sight of Kurilpa bridge, the Grey Street railway bidge, and three others: William Jolley bridge, Captain Cook (southeast freeway) bridge and Victoria bridge named after a Queen. I know a lady named Victoria. Her friends call her Vicky. Queen Vicky. 'She's my friend. I believe I'll go see her again'.

I am quite familiar with this area of Brisbane. It is a regular haunt at my work delivering.
On the north bank is the CBD limits. After rocking up and down the Go-between bridge, the race course then follows the pathways built on rugged rocky banks at Coronation drive, thence on the Bicentennial bikeway below the busy thoroughfares of North quay, ducking down under and along the Riverside expressway, past the commercial and government buildings including the parliament house, through mangroves, and then on to the Queensland University Technology (QUT) campus in Gardens Point. From here the course rises slightly past a grassy and sloping outdoor events venue called ‘The Riverstage’. We then descend down into the Botanical gardens before looping out again to the riverbank through some more pleasant avicennia forest foliage, combining features of the gardens, and merging with mangrove trees on the river edge.
There is a timber boardwalk here which provides a rare natural respite in the middle of the city. It is constructed at mid-trunks height of the large stand of mangroves but wasn't part of the run route. The Brisbane botanic gardens also incorporates guided walks where you can learn about the Dirrabel people, stories about the early settlement of Brisbane, and the remains of a convict built wall. I will pass the way of these botanic gardens again.

The course then enters the north end of the Goodwill bridge under the Captain Cook bridge. The Goodwill bridge is great for taking in some of the scenic sights of Brisbane and the river. I laboured uphill to the high point of the bridge right in the centre of the river. The bridge thankfully went downwards again towards the Maritime museum back at Southbank. Plodding on i followed the marshalls directions on Lower river terrace towards the Kangaroo Point cliffs. This place is popular with rock climbers. From there we then headed back towards the start/finish line in the parklands, about 3kms along the river. It may have been closer to 2km but you know-
The finishing stretch went along the 'grand arbour' pathway. This one-kilometre long pathway is lined on both sides by magenta bougainvillea plants wrapped around twisting steel tendrils. I ran (if my jog can be described thus) past cafe decks and Streets Beach at Southbank. This unique, man-made swimming beach, overlooks the Brisbane river and CBD. This is the only beach in Australia found in the middle of a city and one of Brisbane's most popular attractions. It is a little cold this time of year but come summertime, one can laze and frolic for hours on the crystal clear lagoon, the white sand beaches,  pebbled creeks and shallows surrounded by shady palms and sub-tropical trees and other such exotic plants, not to mention the beautiful Queensland girls.
But back to the business at hand - where are we? Oh yes running!
I must have gone dizzy there for a moment...

Spectators lined the route along the final kilometre of the race. I heard them cheering and urging the runners on. I tried to keep pace with the fast-finishers in the homestretch. Maybe i should not have bothered. Nothing against jeeps and grand pricks here, but they made me look like a lumbering jeep climbing up a mountain road trying to match it with the fast cars in an F1 grand prix.

At the finish, runners had access to drinks and fresh fruits in an area next to the Piazza alongside the arbour paths.

The exit is back towards the piazza where a running expo was being held. There was free massages for the finishers and a long queue had formed for this.

The queue was getting longer, so I gave the massage a miss and limped back to the finish line to cheer on the other runners.

Some of the marathoners, who i think started before daylight, were still finishing. Now that is a distance i would love to do – by walking, on the mountains, in the cordillera. Any takers?

I was almost falling over when i finished. But i forced a grimace for the photographer.

Here’s my spoils from the run – a medal, a race singlet, a bib, and legs in agony. Oh what ecstasy!

I even ended up on the cover of a magazine. It is called 'my running scrapbook' and you'll find it at all good newsstands - in my home in the highlands.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

august muster

The Gympie muster is on again during this last week of this month (24-29 August 2010).
The 'Muster' is held over six days and nights right in the midst of the gum forests of Amamoor via Gympie. The top musical artists of Australia and the odd guest or two from overseas, perform in 13 venues thoughout the National Music Festival in celebration of country Australia - the bush. It's a wonderful experience that is on the must-go-there-before-you-die list.

I've already been a few times and am considering going again, as they keep inviting me every year. Not to perform of course - but to attend.
Just in case it's a goer, i visited the bookshelves and CD racks of my favourite hangout.
A good mix this month.
So here's the musta-

Non-fiction Books:
  • David Suzuki’s Green Guide. How to live and lessen our carbon footprint. This book identifies ways to be more green in four key areas: home, travel, food, and consumerism.
  • Saviano. Gomorrah - Italy’s other mafia. an expose of the mafia in the southern city of Napoli.
  • Neil Young. The Illustrated History. This is a picture book - for me :-).

  • Runners. Good tips on how to get fit for free - running that is, not the magazine.
  • Mojo March 2010. Free CD.
  • Uncut April & July 2010. Free CDs there too.

  • How Green Was My Valley. A companion movie to the book. See below.
  • Frank & Jesse James. Stars the highwaymen Cash, Kristofferson and Nelson (cameo as a general). Good they stuck to their day jobs. Although Kristofferson did do a few more movies than the other two.
Richard Llewellyn. How Green Was My Valley. I don’t remember reading this in school. Hey teachers, get them kids to read - this.

The following are on the not-to-read-list, or rather if-there’s-nothing-else-to-read list
  • Michael Connelly. The Closers
  • Lustabader. Ludlum’s Bourne objective
  • Deaver. The Bodies Left Behind

Check out these soundtracks and recent releases.

  • Crazy Heart. Original Motion Picture Soundtrack includes 16 songs from the film. Artists include the Louvin brothers, Lightnin' Hopkins, Waylon Jennings, Townes Van Zandt; and songs by Billy Joe Shaver and Greg Brown.
  • Easy rider is the soundtrack to the cult 1969 film of the same name. Includes songs by The Band, The Byrds and Roger McGuinn (of The Byrds).
  • Bela Fleck. Throw down your heart. Tales from the Acoustic Planet. This won a Grammy award. 
  • Beth Nielsen chapman. Prism. A CD of religious and spiritual songs.
  • Drive-by truckers. The big to-do. A rock album by an alternative country band.
  • Geoffrey Yunupingu. Gurrumul. The debut album for an Indigenous Australian musician.
  • John Cougar. American Fool. Remastered 1982 album. Mellencamp’s no fool.
  • The Who live at the isle of wight festival 1970. Released in 1996.

Below CDs are mostly to re-copy some deletions.

  • Alan Jackson. Freight Train. country pop.
  • Elvis Presley. 50 Australian hits.
  • Brooks & Dunn. Cowboy Town.
  • Harry Nilsson. Anthology. 2-CD set of nearly 50 songs
  • U2. The Joshua Tree. 20th anniversary edition (remastered)
  • Janis Joplin. Joplin's final album Pearl features her hit version of "Me and Bobby McGee"

  • Rockwhiz uncovered. Cover versions from Series 1-4 of the popular SBS TV music trivia quiz show.
  • Rosanne Cash, John Williamson and Canon were featured before.

There's enough there to go muster-ing and fishing.
maybe i should do both...

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

rail trail fun run 2010

On the way back from Gladstone, I detoured westerly via the Somerset region, the valley of the lakes. Prior to settlement, this valley was used by Aborigines as hunting ground and for gathering food in winter. The area was opened to pastoralists in the 1840s.

Photo. 8.3 km rail trail Lowood-Fernvale

There are at least seven lakes in this area. It is full of scenery, bushlands and farmlands. Located here is Lake Wivenhoe the major water source for South East Queensland. This holds twice the capacity of Sydney Harbour and, believe me, that is a lot of water. Historical homesteads, buildings and rail trails criss-cross the region providing recreation for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. A 145km rail trail stretches across bushland, farms and forests and cultural heritage sites here.
There is also a wine trail and at least seven wineries in the Somerset valleys. The wineries grow grape varieties to produce chardonnay, Verdelho, viogneir, Semillon (whites), and shiraz, malbec, merlot and cabernet sauvignon (reds).
Of course i did not come here for the wine. I came here to run.

Fernvale (used to be called Stinky Gully) is a growth area in the Somerset region. It is on the Brisbane valley highway 30 km away from Ipswich, and 8 km south from Wivenhoe Dam. The Brisbane River passes through Fernvale. People come here for the popular tourist spots as well as for recreation (swimming and picnicking), canoeing, camping and fishing. The town is well-known for its sunday markets. Locals and visitors from all around travel into town to get some bargains such as farm fresh fruit and vegies.

I have been to Fernvale a few times before on my job doing deliveries. Those previous visits involved traipsing the new residential areas on the hillsides of Fernvale at the foothills of D'Aguilar range, and also trampling the grounds of the now busy new supermarket in town. I try to plan my trip to here such that i drive through the rainforests of mt glorious on the d'aguilar range, either on the way in or out. A sidetrip to Lake Wivenhoe is also often on the cards depending on time constraints. In these times the dam is at about 90% capacity so it should be quite a sight.

The rail trail between Fernvale and Lowood is a pleasant experience of sceneries and panoramic views along the Brisbane River. The trail is open to walkers, hikers, cyclists and horse riders. There is also now an annual Rail Trail Fun Run, held in July and which is open to all ages, including old me. Oh yes, and that's why I came here last month. The rail trail fun run is on an 8.3km section of trail between Fernvale and Lowood. This was developed in 2002 by the then Shire of Esk.
This distance would be equivalent to running from the athletics ground in Baguio to somewhere past camp dangwa in La Trinidad (Cordillera, Philippines).

The 8th Rail Trail Fun Run took place on Sunday 11 July 2010. More than 800 registered to take part. The course starts in Fernvale, winds its way through the beautiful Brisbane Valley, and finishes in Lowood.
On this trip i didn't have the opportunity to drive through mt glorious or past wivenhoe dam, but there's always next time. In the wintry morning chill, I drove and parked my car near the finish line in Lowood. Then i joined a group of runners in shivering and queuing to catch the free shuttle service back to Fernvale for the race start.
Quite a few runners have already assembled when the bus arrived in Fernvale.

After getting my bib and tying on my race chip, i sought out a drinks stand for a mug of hot chocolate.

Having thus warmed up inside, I also tried limbering up by stretching my stiff and cold legs. I made my way to the start line and eye-balled the opposition. Of course no one took any notice of me, a has-been, a never-been really.

They also ran the rail trail. And so did I. An 'also-ran'. A 'never-ran-fast'.

I sneaked to the front to steal a photo or two. But this was the nearest i got to the front of the race. From the start to the finish line, runners just kept going past me. Even the older runners left me eating their dust.
The course was mainly on compacted gravel and dirt tracks with a few undulations up and down. It ran mostly parallel to a road along the foothills. And like the Baguio-Trinidad road, it also meanders next to an adjacent river - the Brisbane river. I’m no stranger to this type of terrain, which helped my cause a bit.
Even the official event photographers thought i looked okay. Yes that's me leading. The bottom half of the race that is.

But many more runners put me to shame. So i’ll stop crowing. But seriously, they should ban 'serious' runners from these fun runs. These athletes and running royalty take the fun out of the fun run.
I think I will start a petiton at the next fun run. Ban the 'guns' from the fun runs!
They had better. Or else I'll get on my bike...
Don't say you ain't been warned.

At the finish, Somerset Regional Council hosted a buffet breakfast with an array of food and drink choices served under a giant marquee, all in seated comfort. I wasn’t going to miss out so I booked for the breakfast.

But first I had to finish the run.

I stumbled to the finish line in a PB race pace ever (under 10kph).

Martin Polichay is proud to pose for a photo.

So now to breakfast.
MENU: Fried, poached & scrambled eggs with fresh chives, Double smoked bacon, Pork & parsley chippolatas, Breakfast tomatoes topped with cracked pepper & garlic, Hashbrowns, Marinated mushrooms and red onion, Baked beans, Baby spinach, Pancakes with maple syrup & whipped cream, Selection of individual cereals & yoghurt, Orange Juice, Tea and Coffee.
(what no pandesal? tuyo? kanin? tocino? longanisa?)

That's the brekkie place under the giant marquee.

The race notice said: No Dogs, Bikes or Horses.
On any other day the rail trail is the perfect place to walk the dog or take the kids for a nice long bike or horse ride. However they (Dogs, Bikes or Horses) are not permitted in the fun run. Due to the narrow width of the trail and the quantity of runners and walkers participating, the organisers have decided that dogs, bikes (or similar) and horses may pose a safety risk.

They didn't say anything about clowns. And i don't mean him, he's a real one. I mean clown funrunners.

On the way back from the Somerset region, I drove back via Mt Crosby and again intersected the Brisbane river at College's crossing in Karana downs. There's fish in dem dar waters, i can see them jumping. I think they're giving me a hint.
Yeah I should try fishing...