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Canberra Times Fun Run

13 September 2009

13 September 2009

Canberra Times Fun Run

Following on from their excellent results (by TriHards standards) in the City2Surf, and with the inclusion of some younger team members, the TriHards held high hopes for their chances in the Canberra Times Fun Run. And Canberra had certainly turned on a nice Spring day for the event (and the opening weekend of Floriade, the flower spectacular), with BOM promising the temperature would rise to 24 degrees!

For those of you who don’t know, or aren’t familiar with Canberra, the Canberra Times Fun Run is an annual middle-distance run held in Canberra. It starts early in the morning (yes, 9;45 is an early morning for Canberrans, who can rarely be seen emerging from their hybernation chambers at such times on a Sunday) near the Canberra Hospital and proceeds 10km along mainly a single road, variously named, until reaching Commonwealth Park. Though, one could consider that perhaps the course should be run in the other direction, so competitors wind up closer to the hospital when they really need it!

This year, the TriHard Run Team consisted of the returning Mr GPS (fresh from an overseas vacation), the Cyborg (with a brand new utility belt) and Mr J (That’s like Mr T with a twist!) The TriHards ranks were further boosted with a large number of walkers, including the Immoral Support Crew, mini-Support Crew, Mrs Bas, the Basette, and the newly introduced “Manager”.

This event also has a 5km walk, which many people choose to participate in. Previous years had seen walkers released onto the main course halfway through the run. This, of course, has led to some serious crowding issues in the past (not to mention the annoyance of some of the more serious runners). In 2008 they trialled having the walkers doing the classic Bridge to Bridge course, utilised in the Mother’s Day Classic, but that involved some crowding heading in towards the finish line too. So this year, the organisers came up with a brand new walking course, which involved the walkers heading out from the swamps near Fyshwick, along Molonglo Reach, and up to Commonwealth Park. (Okay, that doesn't sound all that appealing, but the scenery probably is much more interesting than starting at the bitumen of the Road Of Many Names).

Pre-Race

Mr GPS and the Cyborg arrived in Phillip with plenty of time spare to prepare for the event. Wisely, Mr GPS began to coat himself in sunscreen, before offering the bottle to the Cyborg, who refused the generous offer as he was busy attaching his new utility belt. You can always spot the Cyborg in a race, he’d be the one lumbered with all manner of accoutrement in a desperate bid to be prepared for everything. While normal people wouldn’t bother with carrying their own water on a 10km run (particularly given there are drink stations on the course), the Cyborg carried a bladder; along with his camera, and anything else he could stuff into the pockets, “Just in case”. Of course, the only eventualities that ever seem to happen are those for which he is not carrying the equipment (which, in turn, results in the race kit growing for the next event).

After attaching the sticker bibs (which required none of the handy safety pins in the Cyborg’s utility belt...) to their new TriHards racing tops, and buoyed by their success in the City2Surf, the boys made their way to the start line, with the intention of being towards the front of the pack at the start; and then they waited. The youthful Mr J turned up, resplendent in his TriHards gear, and the run team was complete, ready close to the front of the pack. And they waited.

Cyborg, Mr GPS and Mr J at the start
Cyborg, Mr GPS and Mr J ready to run!

And waited.

At 9:40 (which is still very early on a Sunday morning by Canberran standards!) the announcer let everyone know that the course would soon be ready, they were just waiting on the water truck to fill the stations. Given it was an unseasonably warm day, the organisers were a bit worried about the water.

Water truck at start
The pace car arrives!

And waited.

Fortunately, all of this spare time, standing out in the sun, gave the Cyborg much time to reflect on the fact that (a) he didn’t take Mr GPS up on his offer of sunscreen and (b) he didn’t pack any sunscreen into his utility belt. As he began to transform into a redneck in the race pack, the Cyborg made a mental note to add yet another item to his standard racing kit...

And waited.

Just after 9:45 the water trucked turned up to the start line, before making it’s way up the course. While the TriHards, and some other competitors were actually keen to use it as a pace vehicle, the organisers would not allow it (being highly likely that some of the super freaks at the front of the pack would indeed beat the truck!)

Run!

Running a red light!
No, not that sort of red light!

At approximately 10:15, to jubilant applause, the gun sounded and the runners were off. The TriHards had a goal for this event, and had calculated their average time per kilometre to reach this goal; consequently, they set off at quite a pace. Indeed, they were so excited by the start that they ran straight through two red lights. Fortunately it seemed that there weren’t any police to book them (truly fortunate, for at that pace they may have been done for speeding as well)! As the road morphed from Yamba Drive to Yarra Glen (around the one kilometre mark) the boys found themselves well ahead of their planned pace, and keeping ahead of the pack.

After about three kilometres of this fast pace, the enthusiastic TriHards began to remember the wording of their sponsorship agreement with PANDSI:

1. Participate in public events

Every effort will be made on the part of the TriHards to enter teams into the following events:

Furthermore, the TriHards guarantee to go slow enough throughout the event to allow the greatest possible exposure of the PANDSI logo to the greatest possible audience.

Mr GPS running
Mr GPS looking very comfortable

Realising they were towards the front of the pack, and not giving as much exposure as could be given to their sponsor, the TriHards thought it wise to slow down such that more people may see the PANDSI logo and wording on their shirts. Mr GPS was the first brave soul to sacrifice his aspirational goal for the race for the better good of PANDSI and slowed away from the Cyborg and Mr J, who continued at a heady pace.

Mr J Running
Oh, to be young again!

Around about the time the road changed once more, this time into Adelaide Avenue (near the first drink station), the Cyborg began to think of liquid refreshment, and decided to delve into the watery reserves contained in his bladder pack. Unfortunately, he had broken Adventure Racing Rule Number 3: Never try new gear in an event! As he pulled the tube up to his mouth, eager for hydration, he discovered it was rigged up to only reach his right nipple. That would have made sense if the PANDSI logo on his chest was in fact a flower which needed water, rather than a printed image; but did little good to slack his thirst. So, now desperate for rehydration, and not willing to sacrifice pace, the Cyborg continued jogging while attempting to bend his head down to the drinking tube, which did make for some ungainly running! Finally, he gave up and started walking while sucking on the tube, watching as Mr J disappeared ahead (something which he would no doubt hear much of at the finish line).

As the Cyborg walked, and drank, he pondered the relative advantages of walking. By walking, more people were overtaking him. That meant more people would be exposed to the logos splattered all over his shirt for PANDSI. That’s the TriHards for you, always thinking about the value they can add for their sponsors! (Hello, big, rich multinational corporations!) Though, nobody did ask him what PANDSI stood for, and certainly nobody seemed at all interested in the fact that the Cyborg was carrying PANDSI pamphlets throughout the race. While the thought of handing them out to runners as they passed was moderately appealing, it would no doubt not be worth the pain involved!

Parliament House
Just across the road from Rudd's place

Shortly thereafter, The Cyborg was joined by Mr GPS once more, and they continued on at their steady pace up Adelaide Avenue. It was a very sunny day, and they noted that perhaps Canberrans were more conservative than their Sydney brethren (or, perhaps it was still to early!) Unlike the City2Surf, with it’s festival atmosphere and barbecues everywhere, there was not a barbecue to be seen! As the TriHards passed the Lodge, they pondered how good it would be if the man of the people, Kevin Rudd, had turned out to put a barbecue on for the weary passing mob (a barbecue at which, no doubt, everyone would have their fair shake of the sauce bottle).

Shortly thereafter, the course turned down State Circle (another name, but they were actually turning onto a different road!) This section of the run contains the only real descent and ascent work; the first part being the descent onto State Circle. The TriHards made use of the descent to pick up their pace and stretch their legs out a bit, while seeking some much-needed shade on the left hand side of the road.

During this section, an older lady joined the TriHards, informing them that their pace was quite comfortable for her. Even more depressing for the boys was the fact that this is not the first time such a thing has occurred during a race. To make matters worse, she began to pull away from them!

But their shame was short-lived (well, at least quickly forgotten) as they began the climb out of State Circle and up to Kings Avenue. Kings Avenue is a long road that stretches from the Australian War Memorial up to the Australian Parliament House, and from State Circle, it is a gentle downwards slope, providing for an excellent finishing run leg with about three kilometres left to go. Though, at this stage, the TriHards were still heavily focused on gaining as much exposure as they could for PANDSI and weren’t willing to start running willy-nilly through the pack and potentially reduce their audience.

More plastic cups
Dead plastic cups...

The familiar sounds of plastic cups as they lay dying on the road and surrounds alerted the TriHards to the approaching drink station. These fantastic plastic creations ,which had given their lives in the goal of hydrating passing runners now lay discarded and crushed underfoot. The Cyborg contemplated the extra weight of carrying a garbage bag and litter stick, to clean up on the way through...

Green lights greeted them as they progressed down Kings Avenue, and the stage was set for a surge. But they waited. A cooling westerly wind had picked up, and they were using the opportunity of crossing the bridge in this wind to cool down their overheated bodies. They bided their time. They cut off the Kings Avenue Bridge, and onto the footpath towards the finish line and still the TriHards bided their time for their last spurt. They ran into the looming dust cloud, seeing the finish a few hundred metres away through the haze. Yet they waited.

Whether it was the alluring finish line, 100 metres from the TriHards, or seeing the timing clock approaching an hour, for whatever reason, Mr GPS began to put on a sprint. Not just a faster run, but a sprint to the line. Both the TriHards began furiously pumping their legs for all they were worth until the familiar beep of their timing chips let them know the run was over, whence they fell onto the grass in a bid to make hurdles for other finishing runners.

The Bamily striding across the finish line
Another race in the bag for the Basette!

After completing the event, grabbing some of the free fruit and water on offer, the TriHards headed back to the finish line, where they were met by the seemingly fresh and spritely Mr J, who has the benefit of youth in his recovery, to wait for the walkers to come in. After a few moments, Mr GPS had to go back to his car, mentioning that Mrs Bas would no doubt show up two minutes after he finished. As usual, he was proven correct as the Basette, closely followed by Mrs Bas strolled through the line no sooner than his back had disappeared over the Rocky Stairs on his way to the car.

The Manager finishing
The Manager happy to cross the line.

During the Mother’s Day Classic, the Immoral Support Crew managed to sneak through the finish line whilst the Cyborg was still preparing his camera. This time he made sure he was ready for her. This time, he took his time, turning the camera on, and pointing it at the correct locations. And he waited. And waited. Just as he elected to start sending a text message, mini-IMS rushed up to the line, catching him once more unawares - but giving him valuable forewarning of the impending arrival of the Immoral Support Crew. Thus prepared, he managed to snap a shot or two of her as she crossed the line, followed closely by the Manager.

All in all, it was an excellent event on a beautiful Spring day in Canberra. The TriHards runners managed to cross the finish line once more in under an hour, cementing their spot in the average ranking.

TriHards finished!
Cyborg, mini-IMS, Immoral Support Crew and Mr J at the finish.

Race Stats

Date: 13 September 2009
Location: Canberra Hospital to Commonwealth Park
TriHard Time
Mr J 51:57
Cyborg 59:40
Mr GPS 59:41
Mrs Bas 56:25
Basette 56:26
mini-IMS 1:13:08
Immoral Support Crew 1:13:50
Manager 1:07:01
Event website: Canberra Times Fun Run

Number of times PANDSI appears in this article: 10