Tag Archives: Sydney


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.

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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.

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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!”

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My other C2S aspiration is to have a decent expression on my face when I take a finish-line selfie.

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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.



One of the rules of Sydney is that you are only supposed to speak about your part of it, so here goes: I grew up in the west, have lived in the inner city and the inner west, studied in the north, went to school in the outer southwest, worked in the Sutherland shire, which is where half of my family live, and have spent enough time in the east to thoroughly lose the chip on my shoulder about it.

All these places were and are inhabited by drongos, derros, bible-bashers, wowsers, wankers, ockers, snobs, molls, junkies, airheads, revheads, dickheads, bogans, dags, ratbags and bludgers from every imaginable part of the world. (Yes, even the Shire.)

In my lifetime, the city’s material environment has been homogenised by franchises and rising standards of living – when I was a kid, most of the roads in Granville didn’t have kerb and guttering, and the flashest car you were likely to see was a Holden Statesman – and its population has become ever more diverse. (Yes, even in the fucking Shire.)

All this is by way of illustrating why it is that when people talk about ‘western suburbs’ or ‘the Shire’ or whatever, as if that means a single homogeneous chunk to be used as an element in political debates, I think they sound like idiots,* or, even worse, pollsters.

*When I was young I used to generalise about Sydney areas all the time and my Mum used to try to correct me. She was right.

A Messier Sydney

M2: a globular motorway in the Hills District 37,500 light years from Earth.

M4: a toll-free cluster with the apparent diameter of the full Moon.

M5: located in the Serpent, one of the oldest motorways associated with the Milky Way galaxy.

M7: also known as the Ptolemy Cluster, this open group of more than 80 stars has gateless tolling and connects with the M4 at the Light Horse stack interchange.