This is the third time I’ve run in the City2Surf. I’ve been running regularly for about seven years and you’d think I’d be getting used to it, but every time I finish the 14k from Hyde Park to Bondi I can’t quite believe that I did it.
Last year I finished in 88m, which is just under the 90m qualifying time for a green bib. I hadn’t really thought much about that until I got to the bib collection at Darling Harbour on Saturday and saw how small the green queues were compared to the blue, yellow and orange ones. There were thousands of us, but a small fraction of the total. I don’t think I’ve ever qualified for any kind of race before: it made me feel a bit like I was a part of an elite, but mostly that I was among the very slowest part of that elite.
It also meant that I had to get up earlier than usual.
The green runners start right after the wheelchair athletes and the frankly implausible reds, who have demonstrated the ability to run the course in under an hour. Starting early is great because there’s a lot less time standing around freezing on College St while FM radio presenters yell at you over loudspeakers. There’s still a bit of that, as you can see.
I wasn’t expecting too much this year as my form’s been a bit off. One of the things which keeps me running is that it’s good for my mood, but that cuts both ways. When my mood’s poor or I’m stressed, which has been the case for a lot of this year, my pace goes down. But running with the green pack was really good. In previous years I’ve spent a lot of time dodging people who’ve slowed down to a walk, which is a bit stressful, but very few green runners did that before Heartbreak Hill. So the first six Ks seemed to fly.
I needed to take a break twice up the Hill: my main City2Surf aspiration is to make it all the way up to Vaucluse without needing to do this. Coming around the hairpin bend at the top, we met an icy southerly which we’d been sheltered from thus far: it made the last stretch a bit more of a struggle than usual. One thing that also seems to be part of the green pack was getting barracked by fellow runners: when I broke into a walk in the final stretch a bloke behind me yelled, in a not unfriendly tone, “COME ON! YOU CAN DO IT!”
My other C2S aspiration is to have a decent expression on my face when I take a finish-line selfie.
Even though I wasn’t expecting to, I improved my time to 87m, so I’ll get to keep my green status till 2020 (qualification lasts for two years, for some reason). The other great thing about it is that Bondi wasn’t anywhere near as crowded when I got there, so I could get a yoghurt and a coffee and a beer without too much hassle, and take in some accidental glitch art from this video screen showing the wheelchair racer’s presentation.
Or, instead of the usual hand-wringing, talk-show-interviews, counselling-sessions, all the pretending that this sort of thing hasn’t been a part of the game’s culture since as long as anyone can remember, and then packing it all away until the next scandal, we could just, oh, say, not care about sport so much.
As a nation, I mean. Personally, I’ve been not caring about sport for decades now. It’s really quite liberating, and I recommend that you try it.
All just a utopian pipe dream, I know, but sometime in the next couple of days I’m pretty sure that one of my daughters is going to ask me what all the fuss on the telly is about, and I’m going to have to awkwardly explain it to her, and it’s nice to imagine a scenario where I don’t have to be bothered with that. It consoles me, somehow.
Next time you see a media report about Matthew Johns, or the next one, remember: none of this would be happening if no-one cared about league.
Shakespeare: the funny bits
You sheilas never think of aught but rootin’.
Me and the mates are gunna go pig-shootin’.
Come on, you knew I couldn’t have been serious when I said only one more post about the Olympics. Actually I was, but how could I not bring your attention to this word, from the front page of the SMH:
“The winningmost athelete in Olympic history”
Also, every time Channel 7 report on something they think is a bit dud about the Games, like the lip-syncing girl or the CGI fireworks, they start off with some wisecracks about how China has a reputation for making cheap and nasty manufactured goods.
Guys, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but to a first approximation, EVERYTHING IS MADE IN CHINA.
We in the West don’t make Things anymore, not since we realised that it leads to Trade Unionism and self-respect and is generally inimical to capitalism.
I should have looked up the Water Cube before writing Friday’s post: with its blend of macro and micro, it’s even more like something from Aldiss’ Zodiacal Planets stories. Even the geometrical form the outer shell is patterned on, the Weaire-Phelan structure, sounds like one of Aldiss’ plausibly odd-sounding names.
Nevertheless, even though the architecture is beautiful, it’s basically a swimming pool. Other people get pissed off at the Olympics because of Tibet or because they don’t like sports. I get the shits with it because for my whole adult life, public debate has been dominated by a constant, nihilistic moan about how large-scale public endeavours are all old-fashioned and wasteful and socialist and blah blah blah, except for when there’s a big Little Athletics carnival on (or a war) and then look what we’re capable of.
The only time in recent memory when anyone bothered spending large amounts of public money on infrastructure in Sydney was for the guess what. That was also when the ugly grey granite footpaths started, I seem to recall.