Travel Story «City to Surf»

Australia | 0 Comments 13 August 2006 - Last Update 24 December 2006

So what is City to Surf I hear you ask? I’ll tell you what it is. It’s pain and suffering and the Australian way of making you feel inept and Europeanly fat.    
The Australians would tell you it is a fun run –Sydney City Centre to Bondi.     
Grainne would tell you it’s “Emily and 60,000 other morons”  lined up for the Biggest Ever City to Surf run on Sunday - a 14km course from the City to Bondi Beach – aka the Surf.   
I would tell you it involves pain and humiliation, pain barriers and walls. Hills (who the hell runs up hill?!).  There was muscle stretch, tear and pull.  There was lung burn, chest pain and the flash of my (oh-so-short) life before my eyes. There was sweat (oh so much sweat) and the ever-present threat of tears.   
I am happy to report I am still alive having survived this monstrous occasion.  Let me re-live what should be hereafter known as my near death experience….   
In a moment of insanity I agreed to do the City to Surf with a few co-workers.  (Hindsight tells me this is bullying in the workplace).  Turns out I didn’t end up running with any co –workers because I ended up in the wrong group of participants.  There are three groups – The Runners a.k.a. The Pro’s which are then again spilt up into wannabe Pro’s and the Preferred Runners – serious Pro’s.  The Joggers (normal people) and The Walkers (sane people).  When I registered (very late and only the week before the run) I was told only the Walking section (encouragingly called Back of the Pack) was open. Not a problem I thought. I can blame my slow time on dodging the Grannies.   The night before I checked my Bib number and read the information provided. And re-read it. And re-read it. And then passed it around the house to check if I was missing something.    
Turns out I wasn’t. The woman who registered me (clearly some sort of assassin who wanted to kill me) had put me in with THE RUNNERS despite telling me this group was full! These were the serious people who ran the run last year in under 75 minutes. You have to QUALIFY to get into this section and I do not qualify. That’s not where I belong! I had ‘trained’ for three weeks, one week of which I had been sick and taken off to ‘recover’.  I said I would give up alcohol and was seriously impressed with myself when I lasted 6 days (Sunday – Friday) without drinking.  And the height of my commitment was expressed by staying in the Saturday night before the run (a hard battle I’ll tell you). I DO NOT BELONG IN WITH THE RUNNERS.  Maybe it is all a mistake that could be fixed in the morning when I collected my Bib….   
Oh how foolish I am – of course the evil registration woman wanted me to suffer. Sunday morning I woke to a sleeping house and headed into town in my oh so sexy 2 pairs of shorts and clashing T-Shirt.  (I didn’t want people falling over themselves to look at me). I collected my Bib and discovered it was not all a dream/nightmare and I was indeed in with The Runners.  I nervously stood around at the start line counting the number of women I could see in this group. Eight. Eight women. (Now I don’t mean to be sexist but you know what I am saying here.) The rest of the pack was made up of a few young white men bragging about their younger days on the Athletics teams in school and college (losers) and the rest were flaming Kenyan’s and Ethiopians.  No joke. Hence the near tears reference earlier.  This is not what I signed up for. I was only doing this because I had nothing else planned for this weekend! All I could think was I am going to get trampled in the stampede and for what? My anxiety was not helped by the serious conversations people were having, comparing their PBT’s (Personal Best Times) and stretching muscles I didn’t know existed.  Then there was the elbow nudging and the refusal to let people past in an effort to be at the front of the queue.  FYI I let everyone past – the more people there were ahead of me the less people there were to trample me when I tripped on my shoelaces like the amateur that I am.  In an effort not to be found out for the fraud that I am I made no eye contact and spoke to no one before the gun went off. And then BANG, we were off. There was little warning – I thought there would be a count down or something! As there was a TV camera right there I smiled and ran my fastest in an effort to assimilate with The Runners. 
 Turns out, my panic was unfounded and it was actually a bonus being placed where I was even if people were looking at me weirdly as I slowed to a weak jog after 150 meters (out of vision of the cameras – hello! This was like being shown LIVE on Aussie TV!) Despite the fact that I was the first person from my group to stop running/sprinting and take a break and walk (who designs the first section of the race UPHILL towards Kings Cross?) I didn’t fall or make a fool of myself.   
All pain and moaning aside, the 36th Annual Sydney City to Surfs' atmosphere was brilliant - people lined the streets cheering you on and bands played music which kept you going when all you wanted to do was hail a taxi.  There was also loads of kids out handing out water or holding garden hose pipes spraying water across the street for you to run under if you were too hot, and my ultimate favourite – Hi-Fiving the runners as they passed – children after my own heart!  For the first time ever, the biggest fun run in the world (officially!) had more female participants than male.
I aimed to do the whole run in under 2 hours and managed to impress myself by beating that goal and finishing in 98 minutes and 7 seconds and coming 20350th out of sixty odd thousand.  Happy Days. My reward – a new dress and a few beers on Sunday afternoon.  I waited at the meeting point for Helen who was also taking part with a friend from work called Pamela (who I later scared senseless so excited was I to discover she like to Hi-Five people as well.  She left the pub shortly after I spoke to her on this subject…I’m not associating her quick exit with our conversation).  The rest of the girls met me after I had met up with Helen and Pamela (hungover) and although I could barely stand we moseyed back to Helen’s house in Bondi, showered and staggered on to the nearest watering hole (Cock and Bull) for much needed re-hydration and a bit of music. Despite my attempt to convince half of Bondi I was the First Foreign Female over the Finish Line, no one believed me. Aileen Ryan delighted us all and half of Bondi with a few songs and the afternoon slid into the night and continued on in full swing. 
The muscles are aching still as I write this a few days later, but I lived to tell the tale (and boy do I tell it to anyone who will listen).  
Hope you are all well, Emily





Photo albums from Australia

Surf Divas (23)

23 October 2006 | Australia | Last Update 13 October 2006

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07 October 2006 | Australia | Last Update 07 October 2006

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06 October 2006 | Australia | Last Update 17 September 2006

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05 October 2006 | Australia | Last Update 05 October 2006

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30 September 2006 | Australia | Last Update 30 September 2006

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24 September 2006 | Australia | Last Update 24 September 2006

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23 September 2006 | Australia | Last Update 23 September 2006

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02 September 2006 | Australia | Last Update 01 September 2006

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26 August 2006 | Australia | Last Update 26 August 2006

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18 August 2006 | Australia | Last Update 13 August 2006

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08 August 2006 | Australia | Last Update 08 August 2006

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23 July 2006 | Australia | Last Update 21 July 2006

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11 July 2006 | Australia | Last Update 11 July 2006

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01 July 2006 | Australia | Last Update 01 July 2006

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17 June 2006 | Australia | Last Update 06 June 2006

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20 May 2006 | Australia | Last Update 15 May 2006

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12 May 2006 | Australia | Last Update 12 May 2006

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10 May 2006 | Australia | Last Update 10 May 2006

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08 May 2006 | Australia | Last Update 01 May 2006

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07 May 2006 | Australia | Last Update 07 May 2006

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05 May 2006 | Australia | Last Update 05 May 2006

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04 May 2006 | Australia | Last Update 04 May 2006

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04 May 2006 | Australia | Last Update 04 May 2006

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02 May 2006 | Australia | Last Update 02 May 2006

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Perth - Cottesloe Beach (8)

30 April 2006 | Australia | Last Update 30 April 2006

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