There is plenty to ponder along the Sri Chinmoy Lennox Gardens one mile loop. The charge of “too boring” could never be levelled at a route presenting such a dizzying parade of natural beauty, aesthetic richness, cultural variety, historical intrigue and political heft – 13 times around the course is barely enough to whet the appetite.
For starters, the park itself is a veritable arboreal feast with an array of native and introduced trees standing alone, in clusters, groves and copses, their correspondingly varied winged denizens flashing a fluttering smorgasbord of fleeting visual and vocal delights, the soothing sweep of lake, its elegance of waterbirds, slate cloud blotches latticed upon a pensive sky, a lone balloon, the grandeur of Black Mountain with its ever-aspiring tower, the jolting jaunty incongruity of the National Museum, ANU’s (what?!) – Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility – pretending to blend in unnoticed, before the easeful arching of Commonwealth Ave Bridge delivering to an implied city centre beyond. Bearing right to head up a slight slope of grass, the Katie Bender Memorial aches with the tragic folly of a day of festivity turned in an instant to unspeakable tragedy, the dual carriageway of Flynn Drive a reminder we are within a would-be city, the incongruous Albert Hall, the historic (now Hyatt) Hotel Canberra, former home of Prime Ministers and midnight Cabinet meetings, Canberra’s curiously quaint croquet club, the clumsily bungled espionage around the construction of the Chinese Embassy linked/separated with a narrow strip of tarmac from the British High Commission, the Nara Peace Garden, a glimpse of Parliament House looming with all it stood for, stands for, would and could stand for, before abruptly wheeling right into the Chinese Garden precinct an eclectic collection of cultural curios, the Canberra Yacht Club minding its business across Lotus Bay and around the beautifully curved and manicured bend to pass by the Rotary Peace Bell, silent sentinel of mankind’s eternal aspiration for the seemingly-unattainable Ideal. And all the fish, oblivious. An occasional turtle.
And all of that as nothing in compare to the stories, the histories, dramas and dreams, the personal trials and triumphs of ourselves – this marvellous assorted ensemble of runners – circling, striving and thriving, revolving, evolving and transcending on and along and around this wondrous loop of life.
Too boring? Only if …
Trevor Spencer and Alexandria Nicholls both led from the front in the men’s and women’s Half-Marathon, each carving impressive wins unchallenged – Trevor taking line honours in 1:15:04 by a clear 9 minutes from Dan Piercy (1:24:18) and Rex Wickenden (1:26:26); while Alexandria established a 7 minute gap ahead of Kate Ahern (1:33:25) and Caitlin Chandler (1:39:08).
Clare Wall ran so fast in the Female 60-69 category, that she even thought she had run one lap too short – but the timing data doesn’t lie and her consistent lap splits revealed a new age group record, breaking her own best time from yesteryear with a mighty impressive 1:47:00. Michelle Burns took out the F50-59 with 1:50:37; Aston Duncan blitzed the M50-59 field by 14 minutes and took 3rd outright with his fine run of 1:25:09; while Rodney Smith won the M60-69 in 1:40:43.
Today’s 5 mile race was a record fest, with 3 new fastest times racing to new heights: Debra Kay set a new standard for the F50-59 with 39:54; Trevor Jacobs made it 2 new course records in his last two Sri Chinmoy races starts with 39:31 in the M70+; while Anthony Kennedy broke the existing M50-59 time with his 29:53. Jennifer Kellett was guaranteed a win in the F60-69 as she was the only entrant – but even so, her stellar run of 37:43 saw her only a few seconds adrift of Elizabeth Simpson’s course best from 2021.
Sarah King ran a superb front-running race to win the women’s 5-miler in 31:16, from Lee Steel’s 37:48 and Kathryn Sliwinski in 38:03. Shamsher Foley had a much tighter tussle to win the men’s race, with only 4 seconds splitting his 28:49 from a fast-finishing Yiannis Eliopoulos’ 28:53, with Joe Erskine balancing the podium with his 29:47. Kim Houghton’s return to running saw him take out the M60-69 in a creditable 38:21.
Tom Sharp was too sharp in the 2 mile race, winning from the M17 and Over category in 12:11, with next home Tara Holmes, 1st in the Girls Under 17s with 12:53. Oliver Whiting led the Boys Under 13 and took 3rd outright with 13:43; while Fletcher Whiting was 4th and winner of the Boys Under 17 in 14:10. Fastest Girls Under 13 was Ava Harrington with 15:04; while Female 17 and Over winner Sibylla Muecke came home in 15:50.