The City to Surf, A.K.A ‘To Hell and Back.’

August 13, 2007 at 2:24 am (Uncategorized)

Ah, the City to Surf. It’s that time of the year again, and it seems a record number of us poured into the CBD yesterday morning for another 14 kilometres of hell. Because let’s face it: it ain’t pretty. It’s a horrible course. Every year – I think yesterday was my 5th – I ask myself why I’m doing it. As I heave my way up yet another interminable hill, I have to wonder. Who in their right mind would do this to themselves, voluntarily, year after year? No, wait, it’s even better than that: I actually pay for the privilege.

There’s a lot to be said for race day atmosphere. You might remember I blogged about a half-marathon earlier in the year, and the City to Surf is another occasion for great masses of people, something like 64,000 yesterday, to shout, cheer, smack tunnel walls, and create the very specific cacophony of cups hitting the tarmac at the refreshment points as they make their way to the blessed finish line. It’s very addictive, as you can see. But yesterday the spark was gone. Everything – everyone – seemed very earnest indeed. There was not a lot of “fun” in the fun run. It seemed so serious this time. Everyone was very silent and solemn as they determinedly made their way to Bondi via the most uncomfortable route possible.

The crowds were out, as always, and gee they and the variety of bands and those volunteers all the way along do a terrific job. It is a great display of community, the old City to Surf. All the streets are packed with people cheering you on, and I can confirm it really isn’t a waste of their time. There are moments in that race when I always feel like stopping, and sometimes the single thing that keeps me going is a perfect stranger standing by the side of the road calling out “You can do it!” It is probably the thing I enjoy best about the day, because it highlights the essential goodness and generosity of spirit of most people. I call back “Thank you!” and I reach out to meet the small upraised palms of little kids hoping for a high-five, and thus buoyed I manage to keep on running.

If you’re ever planning on getting married in Sydney, the day of the City to Surf is your day. It’s always a cracker. Year after year after year it is a perfect Sydney day. Hot, sunny, cloudless, a twinkling harbour and deep blue, open skies – there is no chance there’s a better day of the year. It is the weather we in this city adore. It is why we put up with shocking architecture, a terminal lack of late-night eating options, horrible chrome refits in pubs, appalling public transport, expensive cabs, gridlocked traffic on tolled roads, property developer overlords, strata scheme spivs and water restrictions. It’s all worth it when the sun shines the way it does on our parade. It’s impossible to see Sydney on the day of the City to Surf – the 2nd Sunday of August every year, for those of you planning your wedding – and not fall for it, head over heels (no running pun intended).

So I do it. I do it, and I’m always glad I’ve done it. We have a standing arrangement to meet some friends at the North Bondi RSL aftewards for a post-race post-mortem, and beer never tastes as good as after I have done that run. Yesterday I did it in my best time to date, and once it’s adjusted to my group’s start time, I should (fingers crossed) juuuuust scrape into the red pack, the sub-75-ers. And that’ll be juuuuust enough incentive to get me back next year.

POSTSCRIPT: by the skin of my teeth… with a real time of 74.08 minutes, I have officially qualified for the sub-75 category for next year – yay!!

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