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  Paul's rapport fra Townsville Marathon Tirsdag, 05.08.14

Townsville Marathon - 3 August 2014
If some points in this report seem similar to other Townsville reports it’s because this was my 11th and David’s 12th participation in this race. In the old days, when the race started at the Strand Park with a handful of runners and went out to very end of Rowes Bay, I was blistering the field in sub 3.30s. My, how times have changed. The race has grown in size and stature so that today almost 200 people lined up at the Tobruk Swimming Pool for a 0530 start in the dark. Far be it for me to repeat myself but some features of this race need emphasizing time and time again. It’s the best road marathon in Australia … Pre-dawn start, flat, scenic, friendly and no effective cut off time. Well, there is a cut off time but it’s never been enforced, even for the terminal tail-end-tragics, a group which I am rapidly qualifying for. There’s none of the uninformed rudeness, ‘police’ state mentality or unnecessary diversions and digressions to accommodate cars and prams that plague big city marathons. The organizers and local running club in Townsville, the media, police and road people are all keen to see everyone enjoy themselves. My only criticism of this marathon is the infrequency of Km markers; some attention to this please Brian. At registration yesterday I was presented with my 10-year club shirt and special race number, 42005. David is 42002. There are five of us in this very exclusive club. Three additional runners are qualifying this year. Whilst it has been cold at the start in the past, today was balmy and promised a hot and windy race. I met up with Debbie, a former running mate from Cairns and we swapped a few relevant, running-related stories. She is recently recovered from cancer surgery but still manages to blitz the field. Runners were corralled for a pre race briefing which basically stated the screamingly obvious, run on the road, follow the directions … And then we were off, around the Casino, along the Strand, past the boozy party crowd in Belgian Gardens (that party grows exponentially each year) turn around and back to the pool. Then do it all again, then do it again but instead of turning around you go all the way out to Palarendra. That 10 Km haul is a nightmare; hot and windy, infrequent water tables and a road with curves, around which the turning point never seems to be visible. Eventually, when most marathon runners are doing the old walk – run thing, you double back and retrace your steps all the way to the pool and the finish. Of course, the marathon is now part of the ubiquitous ‘running festival’ but the staggered starts of the half marathon, 10 Km and even shorter races meant that wannabe runners never bothered us slower marathon runners. I slept poorly last night, was nauseated and tired before leaving the hotel and things did not improve during the race. I seriously considered DNF’ing at half way but when that came in 2.33 I thought that was not too bad, so plodded on. I started off ahead of David, then he overtook me at 4 Km and was rapidly out of sight. However, along Rowes Bay I caught a glimpse of him 200 metres away; that characteristic shuffle, with feet barely a millimeter off the ground, cannot be mistaken for anyone else. I reeled him in and we leap frogged for 6 km, after which he pulled away and once again became invisible. In the meantime I was long past running, in the classical sense of the word, rather just trying to keep it all together and finish in under 6 hours, which seemed possible, providing I remained upright and moving along the blue line. The Ambulance guy asked me if I was OK because I was wandering all over the road … hey, I said, we are at 38 Km in a marathon, a little wandering is perfectly acceptable. He asked me how I felt, to which I just glared. He was a football player and I talked to him about getting involved in a more manly sport, namely marathon running. He was amused but interested. The front-runner in the marathon blasted past me in beautiful style and finished before I had even reached the half way mark. Second appeared to be David Criniti, at least 500 metres behind. Eventually the Strand came into view again. Promises to divert runners onto the footpath did not eventuate so that we shared the road with cars and motorbikes. Prams, dogs, wondering tourists on the footbath or cars and motorbikes on the road … some choice. But we plodded on. The walking woman maintained a spooky pace that defied analysis. I passed her, she walked and overtook me, I passed her back again and with 200 metres to go I seemed to have an unconquerable lead on her. But, with the finish line in sight I checked behind me to find a young female runner closing in on me. I’ve no idea where she came from but I was determined that she not overtake me. I lurched and stumbled but managed to hold her off to the finish line.
Times – David 5.46, Paul 5.48. At 10 mins / km that put David 200 metres ahead of me so I suspect I was gaining on him over the last 2-3 Km. Next time he may not be so lucky. Next time is Sunshine coast in 4 weeks.

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