One day you’re not even dreaming about racing, working your own hours from home and enjoying a few meandering solitary jogs in the forest… then suddenly it’s all back on, your trim-looking rivals are eagerly toeing the start line, the adrenaline is pumping, the course has been described, and – once that silence is announced, there’s no escape!
Outwardly, many adjustments appeared in the way the event presented: no on-the-day entries or registration, new-look permanent sail-cloth race number bibs, multiple wave starts, no drink stations, no post-race burgers, no formal awards ceremony. Yet all this was superficial: like meeting an old friend with a new hair-cut – after a momentary double-take, your underlying friendship resurfaces and takes over. And so it was: blinking a few times to adjust to so many familiar faces in one’s field of view at once, lining up alongside actual people intent on hurtling themselves in the same direction as fast and forcefully as possible, once the legs started turning, the heart thumping and the breath heaving, we were tipped into that place of simultaneous intense discomfort and exhilaration for which we willingly cut short our sleep, pay good money and turn out in the freezing cold … called racing!
If absence makes the heart grow fonder, certainly not having access to organised races seems to have increased runners’ eagerness to participate, as a record field for a Sri Chinmoy Canberra Trail Run saw 359 pairs of legs soaring, swishing, dancing, prancing, jumping, shunting and shuffling across the finish line.
Elizabeth Humphries bested her own course record from 2 years ago for the scenic (and sorry, not flat) 20km loop, clocking in today in 10th overall with a fleeting 1:27:14, from Penny Slater (1:32:47) and Tara Melhuish (1:36:58). In a strong performance, Anita Scherrer (1:49:56) just took out the Female 50-59 from Mhairi Craig (1:50:36). Pam Muston celebrated her new age group of Female 60-69 with an emphatic triumph and new age group record of 1:51:08.
Matthew Berrington won a close 20km race in the Male Under 50, his 1:17:47 eclipsing Grant Bluett’s 1:18:07 for runner-up and 1:19:16 for 3rd placed Tomas Krajca. Kerry Baxter once again proved his class in the Male 50-59 to win in 1:35:57; while Trevor Jacobs reigned supreme in the Male 60-69 with 1:43:42; and ditto Terry Dixon in the Male 70 and Over with 2:17:50, despite a nasty spill resulting in fair amount of shin skin donated to the track. Kerry, Trevor and Terry were content to defend their titles and not eclipse their own course records from previous yerars.
Months of solo training certainly meant that no-one in the 8km field could complain of being over-prepared, and fresh legs were the order of the day as most age records tumbled in a record-felling spree. Lil Mooney ran the fastest ever time for a female by a few seconds to clock 35:39 and take out the Female Under 50, while Rae Palmer set a new standard for Females Over 70 with a slick 57:07. Etienne Blumstein-Jones flew over the course in a new overall best time of 30:09 in winning the Male Under 50, while other records fell to the impressive Lyndon O’Grady (35:17 to win the Male 50-59) and Jim White (48:43 in the Male 70 and Over). Sally Thauvette took out the Female 50-59 in a swift 42:57; Judith Bibo the Female 60-69 with 1:01:13; and Peter Prince the Male 60-69 with a decisive 40:55.
A modest group of 13 runners made up in enthusiasm what they may have lacked in numbers at the start of the 2km out-and-back trail route heading south from Pine Island. Brother and sister, Caleb and Hannah Quispes, established new course records for their respective age categories of 7:59 (Boys Under 13) and 10:01 (Girls Under 17), while Abhinandan Willis made his journey from Melbourne worthwhile by claiming a new all comers fastest time of 7:09 in taking out the Male 17 and Over. Lily Altamore was swiftest among the Girls Under 13 – and fastest female overall – with 9:30; while Jane Purcell took home the main prize in the Female 17 and Over in 23:06.
Congratulations to one and all who participated, helped, ran and supported!