The Maribyrnong is known as Melbourne’s ‘second’ river, flowing from its source in the Macedon Ranges, through Melbourne’s outer and inner suburbs before reaching the Yarra estuary at Yarraville, where it empties into Port Phillip Bay. For those who know it well, however, the Maribyrnong is every bit as good a waterway as its more well-known counterpart.
And so the river formed a calm, shimmering backdrop to the 4km, 8km and 12km runs this early Sunday morning at Riverside Park on The Boulevard in Moonee Ponds, just down the road from the landmark Poynton’s Nursery.
Leaving home at 3.50am on a reasonably clear and mild early morning from the inner eastern side of Melbourne to set up the run, we drove through several surprisingly wet patches of road before reaching the venue. And as we laid out the course, a very fine misty drizzle gave us some cause for anticipation and concern. However, all these fears were set aside by 6.30am as the day fully dawned and the weather began to look quite promising.
As we set up the venue we managed to give the resident bird life an early morning wake-up call, sending many of them flying from the foliage of the massive palm trees and watching curiously as we went about our tasks.
Riverside Park is reasonably small as far as parks go, but the perfect location for our run, providing a friendly, intimate setting for the start and finish of the race. The course is an anti-clockwise 4-kilometre loop around the river with two bridge crossings on the well-used recreational trails, the locals kindly accommodating a sudden influx of eager runners to their usually quiet morning jog or walk.
The race got under way just after 8.00am with 101 starters in the 4km, 67 in the 8km and 76 in the 12km, a total of 244 participants. The early pace was set not by one of the 4km runners, but by George Skoufis, the eventual winner of the 12km run.
There were some surprisingly good results from the more mature participants, with notable mentions being Jenny Alexander Aline Palloure and Ingrid Tsiligiannis in the womens 12km race; Ernie Stewart coming second overall in the mens 12km from the 60-69 years category; Carina Ford and Bronwyn Morris in the womens 8km run; and Brett Hann and Christine Woolley in the 4km run.
Many runners took advantage of the fine morning and enjoyed the post-run pancakes and fruit while waiting for friends and family to finish. Perhaps it was the stillness of the air, or the silence of the river flowing quietly by, but there seemed to be a palpable peace and camaraderie being shared around.