Even after nearly 30 years, finishers of the Sri Chinmoy Half-Marathon are still greeted with surprises. One runner made her way up the finish chute, to find some of her friends holding a colourful banner from her boyfriend, a fellow runner, asking for her hand in marriage. (Though the proposal was there for all to witness, we had best keep their identities private.) Others had less unusual surprises, but were amazed by their own athletic prowess, as they achieved PBs, or challenged themselves to a distance beyond anything that they had previously done.
Though the Half-Marathon still uses the established loop of Canberra’s historic Telopea Park, it has changed somewhat since the early days, when a small team of volunteers would individually count the laps of an intimate group of keen runners. This time we had a record field – both for the Half-Marathon race, and for the three-race event itself. That is not the only reason why today’s event would seem very different to one of the competitors of 1990. Now there are three races, with both the 5-mile and 2-mile events attracting a competitive field. The race is no longer in the depths of July – leaving race officials half-frozen and runners wrapped in scarves and heavy tacksuits – but in the relatively mild climate of the Queen’s Birthday, with the Sun shining overhead (at least this year). Perhaps even better, the race now offers a breakfast of fresh fruit and hot pancakes for the runners, who deserve a light feast after taking on the course. (One thing that hasn’t changed: the team of volunteers is still small – though nowadays they are assisted by computer timing.)
Many have noted that, even as it traces the same loop 13 times (in the case of the main race), the course seems to get hillier and tougher as the race progresses – a true typographical enigma. Each lap looks identical, but seems to be considerably steeper.
But however demanding the race, it was not enough to bother the 11 runners who did it under 90 minutes, or the many others who completed one of the three races. An excellent way to spend a morning!
Full results are published, as well as a photo gallery from around the course.