Saturday, 31 March 2012

Cliff2cliff fat ass 2012

Cliff2cliff (Shorncliffe to Redcliff)  25 March 2012.
About 80 runners turned up for this fat ass (no fee and informal) running event. The events listed are: 50km ultra,Marathon and Half-marathon 
The foreshores of Moreton bay along the northern coastal villages of Shorncliffe Sandgate Brighton in Brisbane and the bayside suburbs from Clontarf to  Scarborough in the Redcliff peninsula are picturesque and beautiful recreational areas comprising beaches jetties and piers parklands picnicking grounds swimming pools and other features all linked by tree-lined pathways with more than enough facilities including toilets drink fountains barbeques exercise structures sculptures and other art pieces etc.
Shorncliffe, Sandgate and Brighton on Moreton Bay.
Oh yes i come not to praise
the place, but to race
an event called the cliff2cliff
hoping to place, not in last place
or fall off the cliff face
and come to grief... 

anyone know poetry?

A half-marathon is a test of sorts. It is a test of endurance and speed, if one’s aiming to see how fast she can run. Marathoners and ultra runners may scoff at what I call endurance, and the speed freaks go past me as if i’m standing still, but it’s the business end of a funrunner’s diary – exam time. Nothing personal against endurance and speed but my aim is to finish and at a reasonable time (somewhere faster than walking).
Night was still wrestling with the dawn when i arrived, but it soon yielded to the glorious bright sunlit morning which greeted the runners at the Shorncliffe pier. Actually I slept in and was amongst the last to arrive. The race director Grant came ronning er running to put me down for the 50km ultra. I asked to register for the 211km super-ultra, but apparently that event was cancelled. The boardwalk on the pacific coast around Moreton and Stradbroke Islands to Kingscliff in NSW was still under construction J, so I had to settle for the 21.1km half-marathon.

A sunrise or sunset meander along the beautiful foreshores from Shorncliffe to Brighton and beyond the bridge to Redcliff is worth doing. And if something is worth doing, then it is worth doing well. So I thought why walk when you can fly? And indeed I went up to the skies to capture the incomparable beauty of these parts of the northern Brisbane area.
From cliff to cliff and park to park, jetty to jetty and bridge to bridge, its all here. Yes even creek to creek, bay to bay, 'fish and chips' shops to 'chips and fish chops', all the way from coast to coast...
Too much waffling Martin. Back to running.

A good number of runners had turned up. In the few weeks and days leading up to the race, there was a bit of chatter in the coolrunning forum for this fat ass event, so many more were attracted to its features. Cooled by the seabreezes off moreton bay and shaded and protected by trees lining the coast, the sometimes winding but mostly straight pathways take runners for a tour of the foreshores.
Last year’s inaugural cliff2cliff was a leisurely run with fewer participants, but this year’s looked a serious race for many of the faster runners out front.

Sandgate by the sea.
Shorncliffe is the mustering area for this great fat ass running event. The name Shorncliffe derives from the appearance of its headland as viewed from out on Moreton Bay. It is also the starting area for the Brisbane to Gladstone Easter yacht race, and that's coming up soon, but before that are the runners.
At the gun, the runners headed south to the groyne fronting the Shorncliffe headland cliffs, a 300-350m route alteration due to ongoing repairs to the pier. We ducked in and out of trees and bollards and sidestepped around tables and lawns on the short out and back trip to the groyne. Then the race settled to its rhythm.
From the start I ran, or tried matching paces with a self-trained runner, Ms Chelle, a young woman who starts her day with a lazy early morning run of 'only' 9km. And as if that's not enough, she also does another easy 9 km home in the evenings.
We hit Sandgate at about the 2km mark. Sandgate is popular for excursions and picnics and outings, but since the opening of the Hornibrook Highway to the beaches in Redcliff, became more a secret hideaway for the locals. The runners toured its long foreshore reserves while taking in the panoramic views of the bay. Chelle and me ran along the lovely shady picnic lawns and foreshores. We overtook a few runners as we admired the remaining historical sights of Sandgate village.
Looking south to Decker Park in Brighton.
Brighton on the shores of Bramble Bay, lies between Sandgate and the  Houghton Highway and Ted Smout Bridge across to Redcliffe. At about the 5km mark we set foot on Brighton with its wide streets and renovated timber homes fronting the waterfront esplanades with parks, paths, restaurants, cafes and swimming pool facilities.  The seaside location and the many amenities has attracted many families to live here. 
Soon we get to the ramp and pathways of the 3km long Ted Smout bridge. 
Ted Smout Bridge on Bramble Bay at the Pine river.
The easterly wind was blowing and cooled us as we ran over the thrice-bridged waters of bramble bay on the mouth of pine river. We met many cyclists walkers and joggers on our journey from cliff to cliff. 
We were about three-quarters of an hour into the race and I had used up my water and feeling thirst. Thankfully we had in sight the inviting sprawling oasis of Clontarf with its bayside parks walkways and bikeways and recreational facilities. Clontarf at 9km mark is another charming seaside suburb at the southernmost tip of Redcliff Peninsula with a children's playground area, and popular boat ramp. I kept an eye out for the mini half-marathon turn-around marker in Pelican Park (named in honour of the amazing sea birds living in the area).
My running companion is a very fit lady, having lost a bit of weight and is now just running recreationally to keep herself slim, and dare i say dangerous. Hey Ms Pfieffer, you rule! She kindly paced me for more than half of the half-marathon, before i begged off pretending to look for a water tap.
The rest of the run was the reverse of the northbound out run. So I sailed against the southerly/ southeasterly headwind as I retraced my steps. I stopped a couple of times for water. I passed some runners, and other runners passed me. Running's like that - tit for tat.

Photos post-race.
Admiring the seascape in the sun's wake behind the clouds.
That's a newbie, I think his name's Mate, and his friend Tanker.
A couple of tourists take pictures while a barefooted finisher contemplates buying shoes,
or a camera.

A fast-finishing first timer conquers the cliff2cliff foreshores.
Ms Chelle rules!
A group does a post-race debriefing.
The rails hold firm against... pushers.
There’s a lot more features in Redcliff with Norfolk pines and swimming lagoons and beaches and picnic parks and lookout points. And in Brighton and Sandgate are local wetland reserves for native flora and fauna. There are also numerous restaurants, cafes, and of course fishing.  I do see those attractions on my occasional travels to the peninsula, via the tourist route along the coast, not by air, not on foot, but by car.

Monday, 26 March 2012

My Travel to America: Seeing Sights, Gaining Insights (By Magdalena Odsey Kis-ing)

This article first appeared in a book published in 2011.
As a child growing up deep in the mountains, the writer could only ever dream of visiting the land of Lincoln.
She was one of the first girls from Mainit to go to school and finish college. And when she became a schoolteacher, she would inculcate in the minds of her young pupils the words of the Great Emancipator -
that we are all created equal and that everyone must have a chance.

My Travel to America: Seeing Sights, Gaining Insights
By Magdalena Odsey Kis-ing
When my children said that I would visit America, I was over the moon. At 71, I did not expect that I would still get the chance to ever see “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” But like a dream come true, with my brother Frank and my daughter Judy, I arrived in Los Angeles, California in October 2011 exceedingly excited to see the sights— but moreso, to be reunited with my only grandson, Second, whom I have not seen for long six years.
I could not contain my joy as I hugged my grandson at the airport, along with my daughter, Rhalyn, my son-in-law Voltaire, and his sister Gina – who came to welcome us.

My story shall unfold not in the chronology of the 12 states I’ve been at a marathon speed. Instead, let me share my experiences and the insights I’ve gained from the places which had left a strong impact on me, and brought lasting memories that I will cherish in the remaining years of my blessed life.  
Now, buckle up and journey with me as we wind through this so-called land of milk and honey.
On the East Coast, my niece, Mae and her husband Edward were our gracious hosts, tour guides and photographers rolled into one. We arrived in Washington D.C., the capital of the United States and the seat of government of the world’s superpower. Long before we arrived, I had been looking forward to walking the “hallowed grounds” of the District of Columbia. Little did I know that I would be literally walking through the three-kilometer stretch of the National Mall which covers the entire area between the Lincoln Memorial and the US Capitol.
But I was unfazed by the six-kilometer distance (back and forth) as I thought it would just be an easy walk from Bontoc to Alab where I used to teach.  I discovered however that my legs are not as quick and strong as they used to be, and I had to rely on my cane to carry a bit of my weight.
The US Capitol was a sight to behold. From afar, it stands as a proud and grand symbol of power. The 88-meter high dome above the Capitol building adds to the grandeur of the place.
My niece’s camera was clicking away trying to capture our faces in front of the famous landmark. But nothing could compare to the delight I felt as I watched the ducks frolicking in the pond in front of the US Capitol. Oblivious of the tourists and passers by, the ducks – father, mother, babies – were dancing and merrily chasing each other around the waters. They looked so happy, peaceful and carefree – mirroring my feelings when surrounded by my children, family and loved ones.
While maybe a common thought, I could not help but truly appreciate that beyond all the power, the grandeur, the successes – of which  the US Capitol, to me, symbolized – in the end, what matters is the simple yet profound joy of being together as a family.
That was just our first stop and we still had a long way to walk. We came next to the Washington Monument which is an obelisk of marble and granite built to commemorate the first US President, General George Washington. It is known to be the world’s tallest stone structure.
Surrounding the Monument are flags of the United States. I wondered if the flags numbered 50 to represent the 50 states. With my curiosity piqued, I started counting how many flags were there as we walked around the Monument. Frank said I would lose count, but I persevered and kept my focus. But I soon gave up when my eyes grew tired because the flags all looked the same! I later learned that there were indeed 50 flags at the base of the Monument.
During an earthquake August of last year, the Washington Monument was damaged and it remains closed to the public while the structure underwent repair. That stopped me on my tracks as I thought about how fragile, delicate and vulnerable life can be; how one act of nature can alter everything as we’ve seen in the many disasters  that struck us recently. In my simple mind, I went back to a basic understanding that we should cherish people around us, and make the most of the moments we have.

I will now take you to my favorite spot in DC – the Lincoln Memorial. I looked forward to paying my respect to a great man whom I’ve read and learned about in school – Abraham Lincoln. As I stood in front of a giant monument where he was seated, I silently recited his famous Gettysburg address which my grandson Second memorized in full when he was only five years old. I’m sure my Manong Ben, would have been most impressed if he had the chance to listen to my grandson recite those long lines.
While I could not remember the whole speech, what stayed in my mind were the lines, “… that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” I stood in awe of this great leader and a man of humble origin, who began the process that led to the end of slavery in the United States.

After five hours of driving from Washington D.C., we arrived in New Year City and drove straight to Brooklyn where we were kindly hosted by Dinney Dawas-Bentayen from Sagada. We had a great time staying with Dinney and her son Mang-us in their lovely home. We were joined by my other niece Nieves and her husband Gilbert who traveled from New Hampshire to meet with us.
The Statue of Liberty, which is the icon of freedom, was our first destination in New York. Clad in thick jackets which we raided from Dinney’s closet, we were ready to see the colossal sculpture on Liberty Island on a rainy and windy morning.

After an exciting ride on the famous New York subway, we boarded the ferry that took us to the Statue of Liberty. The statue was a gift of the people of France to the United States. It is a statue of a robed lady representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom.
From the statue, we took another ferry to the nearby Ellis Island which served as the nation's busiest immigrant inspection station from late 1800’s until 1950’s. We went around the museum and learned the moving tales of the 12 million immigrants who entered America through the golden door of Ellis Island. Today, the descendants of those immigrants account for almost half of the American people.

A quick walk on famous Manhattan led us next to the Ground Zero where the World Trade Center stood until the September 11 bombing. Opposite the ground zero is the St. Paul’s Chapel which served as a place of rest and refuge for recovery workers at the World Trade Center.
Leaving New York, we had a much anticipated stopover in Virginia at the lovely home of the Lusads. Manong Herman and Manang Mary, and their lovely daughter Imee, had a warm dinner waiting for us when we arrived. It was late when we all retired for the night after hours of is-istorya and catching up. We were very delighted to see them both doing well, and our talks continued on the breakfast table the next day before we all rode to Jamestown where Manong Herman and Manang Mary eagerly took us around this historic park which was the first successful English settlement on the mainland of North America.

On the East Coast, we also visited the state of country music, Tennessee. While we did not get to meet Garth Brooks in Nashville, we got to spend time with Claire, my sister-in-law and her family from Palestine who showed us genuine hospitality, that indeed, regardless of the color of our skin, race or religion, we can learn to live in harmony, respect and peace.
Georgia, North and South Carolina were included in our itinerary, and we also breezed through Delaware, New Jersey and Philadelphia. However, I have to cut short my story to save space for an account of my visit on the West Coast.

From the East Coast, I had a glimpse of California, by far the most populous U.S. state and famous, among others, for being the center of American entertainment industry – Hollywood, of course. I had a funny feeling walking through the affluent city of Beverly Hills, home to a number of celebrities, heirs and dignitaries.
I was musing over the idea that an old lady like me from Mainit is walking the streets of these famous people! I am not famous, and never will be. But that moment somehow answered my curiosity about the streets which famous people walk. And guess what? I found out that it’s no different at all from where we walk on. Some parts are smooth and paved, but others have bumps and curves. Such is life for all – famous or not!

Grand Canyon West is one magnificent sight to behold. It is the largest canyon in the world, and is found in the state of Arizona. There is much to say about its grandeur and immensity. My daughter simply calls it breathtaking.

We walked through the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a transparent horseshoe-shaped bridge 4,700 feet from the base of the canyon! We clapped when Frank conquered his fear of heights and completed the full walk around the bridge!

We’re coming to the end of my visit and I saved the best for last – my grandson’s eighth birthday when we invited our relatives, friends and kakailyan to join us for lunch. We were truly touched when kakailyan from our beloved town made the effort to come out and see us. They drove all the way from Arizona, San Diego and Los Angeles.
I will not mention their names lest I would miss out on some, but the fond memories, the laughter and the joys we shared – will stay in our hearts and minds. We are grateful to them all for making our visit to America even more meaningful. 

Looking back, whether here or there, near or far, what truly counts are the moments we share with our families, friends and loved ones. The memories of the places we’ve seen may soon come to a blur, but the joy of seeing them with the people we love will remain long after our journey ends.
(Kis-ing, Magdalena Odsey. “My Travel to America: Seeing Sights, Gaining Insights.” The Bontoc Culture. The Association of Retired Mentors (ARM). Bontoc, Mountain Province : ARM-Bontoc ; c2011.)
The author is a retired schoolteacher from Mainit, Mountain Province. When she's not visiting her grandson in California, she spends her time in Bontoc tending to her fields and moulding the moral landscapes in the minds of the younger generations.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Twilight Running Festival 2012

Twilight running festival 2012 (18 March) half-marathon
Running in the twilight at the University of Queensland grounds in St Lucia is something else. As usual the event is quite enjoyable and well organised from parking, race shirts, luggage, marshalls, pacers, volunteers, helpers, timing system, facilities, spectators, well-lit grandstand finish, events and activities for all ages, and others.  It is a wonderful thing to run under the moon and the stars, although on race day (or night) one cannot see them for the clouds and the trees.
Like last year (2011 twilight run) the lead up to this event was a rainy couple of days. But an overcast Sunday at least in St Lucia, was dry for the race.
The festival was in full swing when I arrived at the UQ campus. I was caught in the midst of what seemed like hundreds of cars pouring into the grounds for the race. 
The festival opened at 2pm for race pack collections. And activities for the young opened at 3pm: jumping castles, zorb balls, face painting etc. The parking spaces within the university grounds and adjoining streets were pretty much all taken when I arrived at around 3:45pm. I circled around and back and found a spot not far from the roundabout.
And then the show got on the road - a comedy of errors, at least in my case.
At the end of the day, I had come up with a list of new running year’s resolutions for 2012:
1.       Remember to bring your running shoes to the race
1.e  Manage the drinking problem 
2.       Check the start time
3.       Check the location of the start line
4.       Use the toilets before the race and check locations of portaloos
5.       For black toenails, prevention is better than cure
6.   Etcetera
7.       And others
Now it would be reasonable to ask what precipitated such a list.
Okay, I’m still young at heart to jump castles and ball with zorbs (whatsazorb?) and paint or hide my face, but wait til you get to my age.
So anyway lesson 1.
Driving in, I was wearing thongs (flip-flops or tsinelas) hoping to keep my feet relaxed while nursing a couple of black toenails. After finding a parking spot I went to put my shoes on only to realise that I did not put them in the car. So the planned relaxed approach to the race became an anxious race against time to race home for my racing shoes and then race back before the race start. Does my racing make sense? Plenty of time, I thought. Back an hour later and the festival atmosphere became like groundhog day – déjà vu, all over again, for the second time around... that was lesson 1.
Amidst the anxiety, I started drinking – hard, unchilled water, straight. And so my drinking problem told on me, for when I got to racing, my bladder complained constantly.
Lessons 2-4.
The queues to the portaloos were as long as the finishing straight, so I jogged down to the oval instead, hoping to come back later. I was doing some stretching when the race announcer said “...five minutes to the start of the half-marathon”. My watch said 5:25pm and I looked around and there were other runners milling around in their brand new green twilight running vests. The scheduled race start was at 5:50pm so I thought the race announcer must have said “...25 minutes to race start.” A few minutes later I suddenly heard “...dy, set, Go!” and then some cheering. I looked up towards the grandstand and saw behind it a mass of runners starting off - for the half-marathon race! I sprinted up as I realised I had missed the start.
I was remiss and did not perform due diligence to confirm the start time and the start line. Later I found out that the 5:50pm start time was for the 3km event. I now know also to check the 1/2marathon start line and not assume that it is the same as the previous year’s 10km, and finally that other runners in the oval may have already finished racing.
There were cordons and crowds of people milling about the oval and the track and it took what seemed an eternity before I came out to the back of the race and joined the fun runners in costumes strolling across the start mats of the half-marathon run. A familiar face greeted me there. Keef was waiting or looking for his wife, and I said hello, see you later, as I started negotiating the backmarkers. All up I lost maybe two minutes to the leaders.
Lesson 4 was the most painful. All along the tree-lined banks of the Brisbane river we ran and ran and ran and I looked and searched and peered and grimaced and panicked until I could not hold on any longer and ducked behind some bushes in the dark to water the loam under the gum trees.
Lesson 5. 
During the race, I was nursing a black toenail that had appeared after a post-Christmas run in Mt Nebo. The downhill portion of that mountain course was not kind on my toes and I returned from it with a souvenir – a couple of black toenails. So it was that one of them looked to fall off at any stage of the twilight run. On the way into the UQ grounds I popped into a corner store for literally a bandaid fix for my suspect toenail. I bought a box of bandaids which I used to tape my toe.
The bandaid fix held but the nagging uncomfortable tape around the toe was enough to distract me from running optimally. Next time I will run Mt Nebo uphill only and catch a ride back.

I like the gum trees lining the winding route. I gotta run here before - in the Brisbane running festival in August last year along the river banks in Dutton Park. This time we get to run on both sides of the river. The two suburbs Dutton Park and St Lucia are joined by a bridge that only buses, cyclists and pedestrians may use. It was great catching the river breeze up there but I had a race to run. 

I did finish. But my black toenail wasn’t finished. When I got home, I found it still hanging on. The sight of blood makes me faint and I could not contemplate pulling the thing out. Someone told me that a black toenail is a sign of a runner. I wonder if that makes me one.

Finishers at the 10km race.

The results are in from RaceTec

JOHN POLSON Male 1:11:09
Neil Labinsky Male 1:14:39
Liam Woollett Male 1:16:17
Thomas Dover Male 1:16:59
KATE SMYTH Female 1:17:49
Ralf Hamann Male 1:17:54
BRYAN MCMANUS Male 1:18:53
BEN MACCRONAN Male 1:19:29
JAY GARTNER Male 1:19:41
BRAD WILLIS Male 1:20:30
CLARE GERAGHTY Female 1:21:12
JO MCLAUGHLIN Female 1:29:02
BLAIR JORDAN Male 0:34:44
TAMARA CARVOLTH Female 0:35:07
LEIGH STEWART Male 0:35:24
JASON HALL Male 0:35:48
TOM BEECHEY Male 0:36:09
GREG WEBSTER Male 0:36:17
MARK KENNY Male 0:36:23
JACK BARNSLEY Male 0:38:05
ELLIOT CARR Male 0:38:34
RINA HILL Female 0:38:35
MELISSA WATSON Female 0:40:02
BRANDON DEWAR Male 0:09:07
Jamie Laverty Male 0:09:24
David Tong Male 0:09:34
RILEY KELLY Male 0:09:50
SAM BENNETT Male 0:10:16
JACOB BRAGG Male 0:10:31
Rebekah Matulis Female 0:10:46
Mewing Lauren Female 0:10:49
ADAM FOGG Male 0:10:50
Katrina Robinson Female 0:10:52
TOM MCKEAN Male 0:10:55
INDIA WILLIAMS Female 0:11:00
LUCY ARNOLD Female 0:11:04
JACK KELLY 0:04:12