A stream of consciousness memoir – City2South footrace, Brisbane, June 2016
By Damian West
Three divisions comprise the 14km City2South footrace in Brisbane City: Red (competitive runners who meet strict qualifying times), Green (you’re average punter), and folk who just want to live life the way they see fit in the Yellow division. If you wanted to rock the race dressed up as a zombie or riding roller skates wearing hotpants and a clown wig capturing the race via a go-pro held out on the end of a selfie stick, for example, the yellow division has your name written all over it.
I arrived fashionably late pre-race landing myself well back in the holding pen. The hyped-up B105 ambiance was a bummer but I kept my cool and stretched. Close to 10K people. The Reds left at 7 and the Greens 5 mins later. The first 2 km were strangely the two hardest, couldn’t find a rhythm, like watching the bogans in their V8s out on the M1, tailgating inches behind the car ahead before changing lanes without indicating, hurtling into non-gaps only to land behind another driver obeying the speed limit, more life-endangering ham-fisted manoeuvres to follow before ending up exactly where they started. Lots of mini-sprints into clear lanes before slowing abruptly to a shuffle, sidestepping into open space and pinning the ears back once more, all the while taking care not to clip the heels of the poor soul directly in front. That style of running takes its toll and it takes it fast.
Things opened up after 2km, onto Coronation Drive, 20+ knot Sou’wester in my face, needed a windbreak bad and I found one wearing a Redland Plodders running club t-shirt and I liked the sound of plodding so held in on his heels before thinking surely I could muster more than plod, like I could at least aim high and have a crack at being a light trotting kind of guy or something so left him in my dust and started piling on the pace and found my own rhythm at last.
Let my head drift for a while, thoughts of Muhammad Ali and the thrills of sailing out on the old Brisbane River in gusty sou’westers. Smooth sailing by Toowong and feeling great. Passed Bill McDonald – no better shot in the arm, I tell you, than leaving a B-list television celebrity in your dust. Bands stationed every 2-3 km, cool old brass band playing Clip Go the Shears out on Sir Fred Schonell Drive, way more motivating than Eye of the Tiger or Fiddy Cent if you’ve ever stood inside a shearing shed which I have.
First realisation that race was unfolding pretty damn well crept in, tried to let that go and re-focussed. Achilles heel started playing up big time at UQ but resolved to push on through the pain. On to the Green Bridge and the dreaded heartbreak hill via Gladstone Road. Quarter way up and I must have looked like a stroke was imminent. Slapped on the back by an older ocker saying, ‘Carn mate, ya nearly there!’ That was EXACTLY what I needed to hear, amazing the difference sometimes a few small words from a stranger can make.
He then gestured uphill to a fella running the race pushing a pram….he said no more but there was an implied ‘WTF, we gotta chase this guy down’ and we did and as I got closer saw The Crazy Pram Guy stitched on his back. Love few things more than people who identify too closely with their eccentricities.
Anyway there’s no way in hell I’m going down to a dude pushing a baby, I thought, so pinned the ears back once more and before I knew it was on Dornoch Tce and all downhill in front of me and looked at the watch and it looked good and thought to myself for the first time ‘shit son, you got this shit in the bag’ and slipped into hyper self-congratulatory mode, like when the corporate sponsors appeared in droves holding out their novelty-sized red hands for high fives, I slapped those hands man and it felt good and I peacocked my way down that hill and let those gangly legs unfurl and really sprinted the last kilometre, pipped a couple more runners, crossed the line and out of nowhere nearly vomited my guts out.
Couldn’t be happier with my first City2South!