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Competing interests

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The Long Run

Pip Coates was a swimmer until life got busy and she discovered the addictive simplicity of running. She's never looked back.

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The Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon 2012.

The Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon 2012. Photo: Lee Besford

Last weekend I was one of the 10,910 runners who crossed the finish line in the SMH Half Marathon.

The race was a blast from start to finish. I had a good run and, by the end, I was knackered and elated in equal measure.

It was a great day out. Sure, the traffic at the start was a bit heavy and the crowds milling around before and after the race are a bit trying when you’re trying to get to the loo or food stall but the atmosphere was sensational and spurred me on to a time I was pretty stoked with (1:40:00, thanks for asking).

I know I wouldn’t have done anywhere near that time if it had been a solitary 21.1km. Race-day adrenalin does that for you.

There has been a huge explosion in the number of competitions being staged and the number of  people willing to stump up their entry fee, pin on a number and have a go.

From big-name events like the Sydney Half Marathon or Melbourne’s City2Bay to smaller races organised by local clubs and the excellent Saturday morning 5km Park Runs that are springing up around the country, you could compete in some sort of event practically every weekend wherever you are  in Australia.

I love racing and, if time permitted, would do a lot more. Having a bunch of races on the calendar gives me something to aim for and train for.

Racing keeps you honest when you might be tempted to stay in bed instead of doing a planned training session. Races also give you a chance to post an official time and compare your progress against other people of a similar age.

And I think races also keep you grounded because, no matter how fast or fit you might think you are, unless you’re an elite competitor there is always going to be a whole lot of people in front of you, regardless of the event you’ve entered.

But putting all that aside I reckon races are simply good fun – especially if you’ve got a bit of a competitive streak.

Equally, I recognise that there is so much more to running than just competing against others (and yourself). I also love my long, solitary training runs – especially out in the bush as far away from any other humans as possible – when it is all about time on your feet rather than any particular pace.

Running alone allows you to lose yourself in your own thoughts, let the mind wander or not to think about anything at all in particular.

And then after a couple of months of not doing a race I can’t help myself checking out the online calendars for upcoming events to have a crack at.

 

What do you reckon? Are races and training for them an essential part of your running or does the idea of organised competition leave you cold?

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13 comments so far

  • you need a race to look forward to every now and again - especially to motivate you for the long weekend runs.

    I would say 2 - 3 per year is enough for me. c2s is just too many people though and I imagine sydney half marathon is similar. Last time I ran it I was near the front and still stuck in heavy traffic the entire way and it was not very enjoyable.

    I prefer the trail running events in the blue mountains woodford-glenbrook, mt wilson to bilpin are both great and just the right sized crowds to motivate without crowding you.

    Glow worm tunnel marathon (and half-marathon) in Lithgow (Newnes) coming up next weekend which I am looking forward to.

    Commenter
    af
    Date and time
    May 24, 2012, 3:39PM
    • The Sydney half has had congestion issues in the past but the organisers did a great job this year with the course & the staggered starts. I had a good passage right through with no holdups or the hurdling that you need to do in C2S. And some mention that the atmosphere is lacking... well that's always going to be the case when you start the race at 6:45am before most people are out of bed on a Sunday. I know they want to get the city streets reopened for Sunday trade but come on, surely once a year the shoppers can handle starting their shopping a little later!

      And i agree, for the entry price, having to pick up your bib the day before is a joke!

      Commenter
      Steve
      Date and time
      May 26, 2012, 11:59AM
  • Would love to race very weekend but..... Organisers seem keen to kill the goose and take the golden egg. With entries running up to $100-120 per event how can we possibly afford to run more than every now and then. While I'm happy to make a donation for a worthwhile cause where's my receipt for tax purposes when $40 of my entry is skimmed?

    Commenter
    boy racer
    Location
    back of the pack
    Date and time
    May 24, 2012, 3:49PM
    • Wow, you must be bummed about not managing a time under 100 minutes. So close!

      Commenter
      Michael O'Reilly
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      May 24, 2012, 3:55PM
      • Thanks for pointing that out, Michael! :)

        Commenter
        Nick Galvin
        Date and time
        May 24, 2012, 4:05PM
    • Agree, I am quite new to the world of running. Completed my second half marathon over the weekend at the Great Ocean Road Running Festival and had a great time, especially with the beautiful scenery and challenging hills.

      @boy racer, the organisers need to make a profit, its called running (pardon the pun) a business.

      Commenter
      Matt
      Location
      Preston
      Date and time
      May 24, 2012, 4:55PM
      • Still a few cheaper races out ther if ya look. Last weekend: Blacktown city funrun. 10km @ $15 incl decent t-shirt! C/Coast has Bay 2 Bay in June....12km & 21km options. Well run events & popular...also incl t-shirt.
        Must admit i'm done with C2S - 85,000 punters (and I'm a 62-64mins guy) is way too many but its more a community event so good on 'em for getting out there. SMH half howver one of my faves although there just isnt a "fast" 21 or 42km course in Sydney due to geography. A great shame as anyone wanting a fast time goes to Canb, Mlb or GoldCoast which I will be in 5 weeks. That said its great that so many are getting into it - I'm blown away at popularity of the 100km events!!! Awesome stuff! NF100 is a B/List for the next 2-3 yrs!!! And yes, nothing beats those Blue Mtns races - great courses, scenery & crowds!

        Commenter
        Pearso
        Location
        city via c/coast
        Date and time
        May 25, 2012, 8:33AM
        • I was there too (as a spectator/support crewperson). I have to say I've seen a few big runs in various parts of the world and while the SMH run last weekend was well organised, it falls flat in the atmosphere stakes. I would start with encouraging more stall holders & maybe some live music (not overloud recorded dance music) at the start and throughout the course. To me it just seemed that most runners went home straight after, there was nothing to hang around for and there's nothing to keep spectators interested & enthusiastic. SMH organisers should go check out some overseas runs to get an idea of what I'm saying. Also $90 is a bit steep - they should post out the runners kits prior to the race for that money. The electronic numbers could be protected with padding.

          Commenter
          sunny
          Date and time
          May 25, 2012, 9:38AM
          • What do you mean no atmosphere? There was a volunteer with a portable cd player turned up to 11 at Barangaroo!

            Commenter
            Archy
            Date and time
            May 25, 2012, 10:21AM
        • The runs, while crowded at times, are great goals to work towards.... and a great way to raise money for charity (only wish the event giving site wouldn't take a cut of all donations - one of the major banks (yes, major banks) offers a no fee (free!) donation website - it should be used more often.
          While paying the fees can be expensive, its worth every cent when a pre-race nervo comes on and you need to go there and then.

          Commenter
          Archy Hamilton
          Location
          Steel Springs
          Date and time
          May 25, 2012, 9:41AM

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