Run for the kids was my first ever public, out there for everyone to see ‘fun run’ so it does hold a special place in my heart. This morning, I ran the long course again – 16km of fabulous course, brilliant atmosphere and, most of all, dollars going to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.
It was an early start with my alarm going off at 4.45am and us leaving at 5.30am. The drive was kind and we arrived with heaps of time to wander down to Southbank for a toilet stop before heading over to the event village. It was already getting busy and the atmosphere was buzzing. We dropped off our bags, admired the sunrise and stopped off for another toilet stop before heading to our starting area. Selfies and group pictures done, it was very soon time to start. In fact, a bit too soon. Despite having been there a while, for some reason I wasn’t really ready and felt a bit rushed.
Regardless, the start had happened; we crossed the line and headed over the Swan Street bridge and along the river towards the Domain tunnel. I absolutely love this part of the course – even though you’re quite crowded, everyone is happy and moving well and there is an undeniable buzz as you enter a tunnel that is normally the realm only of cars.
The gentle slope down into the tunnel is wonderful and I easily found a comfortable pace. Coming up the other side is equally as gentle but getting quite warm and stuffy which makes it more challenging. The breath of refreshing cool air as you exit is brilliant and makes up for the slightly steeper incline as you head along the freeway.
By now, I’d dropped back from my friends as I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up but didn’t feel at all lonely. I’m not sure if I started further ahead than last year or whether there were just more people but I felt like I had more company than in 2015. This was the point that the faster runners passed us, coming back in the other direction including 2 incredible wheelchair athletes.
Soon enough, we were heading around the bend and up onto the Bolte Bridge. It’s not a terrible incline but it does seem to stretch on and on, particularly once you get to the base of the bridge itself. However it’s well worth it for the selfie opportunities at the top, made better this year by Nova’s selfie zone with willing volunteers ready to take your picture with the stunning backdrop.
Photos done, I headed back down the other side and did my fastest stretch of the day, taking advantage of the lovely downhill slope to make up some time. We then turned back towards the Docklands and zigzagged along roads and between buildings before coming out at Victoria Harbour to another favourite spot, running along the boardwalk.
Turning right, we headed along the back of Etihad stadium then onto Jim Stynes bridge which was quite fitting – it was just about this time that I was drawing on some of my mantras, one of which is being proud to run for those who can’t. Not a difficult mantra to say when you saw all the tribute t-shirts and signs around you, remembering children who were either taken too soon or having to endure all sorts of medical issues at far too young an age.
Back onto the freeway and heading quickly towards the finish. Up to this point, the kilometres had absolutely flown and there were only about 4km to go. This probably felt like the longest stretch but was seriously not that bad. I was thinking in parkruns (less than 1 to go!) which helped and realising how far I’d already come certainly made it seem doable.
As I headed off the freeway, there was a much needed hose being used as a temporary shower to run through at the drinks station and this gave me the boost I needed to keep going. We then snaked through the back streets of Southbank and under the Arts Centre before the final stretch along Alexandra Avenue. By this stage, I’d slowed to a walk (although a fairly fast one) and was saving energy until I saw the finish line – it still seemed a long way away! Turning right, the finish line was finally close and I headed steadily towards it, feeling incredible.
Summary: Brilliant event and an absolute ‘must do’, at least once
+ The course – You simply cannot get bored on this course and it really does make the distance fly. It is constantly changing and providing you with different scenery, as well as the excitement of running through a tunnel and over a bridge. Perfect!
+ Atmosphere – There is such a diverse mix of people at this event – serious speed demons, everyday runners, first timers, walkers, costume wearers – everyone! Added to that are those who are running in tribute to the little people who this event is all about – no wonder the atmosphere is so good.
+ Event fee – There is no medal at this event and I couldn’t be happier. The majority of your entry fee goes directly to the hospital through Good Friday Appeal and that is so much more important than adding to my bling. And, even with that, the event fee is very reasonable, encouraging more people to enter.
+ Event village – The event village has everything you could need – friendly volunteers at the bag drop (and an easy to follow, non-time consuming process), entertainment to divert you afterwards and delicious apples to start the refuelling process as you exit the finish chute. Yum.
– No negatives. Seriously. It’s just a great event and I wouldn’t change a thing. Last year I commented on the start time, this year it was 7.45am which was perfect.