Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Running of the toddlers

Bob and I are not used to the bugs over here. We have each been sick three times in two months - it's ridiculous. And it is, of course, in no relation to us refusing to wear coats in sixty degree weather.

 While my runny nose was funding the Kleenex company, I decided to sign up for a 9 kilometer race that ran over the Harbour Bridge and ended at the Opera House. Between our wedding and moving to Australia, I became rather lazy in my exercise routine. I decided this race would be a good motivator to get me running and training again. Well ... it didn't.

Race day approached early on a sunny Sunday morning. I was unprepared and my cold hadn't gone away. Our friend John was staying with us for a few days while he attended a conference, and so he and Bob were going to cheer me on at the finish line. 

I stuffed a bag full of tissues to carry with me on my run, and made my way through the mass of runners to the starting line. It was chaos. There were actually four races going on that day: 
The Sydney Marathon (for crazy people)
1/2 marathon (for 1/2 crazy people)
9km Bridge Run(for mildly sensible people)
Family Fun Run (for people who like to put their small children in the way of angry runners) 

A poor flaw in the race planning, was that the family run started before the 9km run. The result of which was that once I started running the 9km with my fellow racers, we headed up the incline of the Harbour Bridge - and hit a wall of strollers, hand-holding toddlers, and piggy-backing kids. This was a problem. 

Kids, when filled with sugar, can run around malls screaming their heads off with never a need to rest. Kids, when exposed to sunlight and the monotony of 9km of pavement, wilt. The ensuing result reminded me of the Pamplona running of the bulls. Just replace the crazy running humans with sugar-depleted stumbling kids, and the bulls with sweaty adult runners praying that they not only make it up the bridge, but don't end the race to find a toddler stuck to the bottom of their shoe. 

After the initial kid-weave-and-dodge, the race calmed down, until I started running down the bridge and was nearly clotheslined by a Japanese tourist. I'm not sure if they were actually in the race, or just wanted a chance to get to run on the bridge, but about twenty of these tourists suddenly appeared on the course. They would run a few paces - this is while being surrounded by actual racers - then stop in the middle of the course, spread their arms wide, and smile so their friend ten feet back could take a picture of them. Again, this resulted in racers making sharp dives, falling over, and, I'm sure, a lot of pictures of a smiling tourist about to be run over by a very ticked off racer.

My cold was acting up and after another near miss with a camera toting tourist, I stopped to (in a very lady-like and dignified manner) hack up some phlegm. Anyway, after the obstacle course of the bridge the rest of the race went pretty smoothly and running along the botanic gardens and opera house was gorgeous. 

There were so many runners that Bob and John didn't ac
tually see me finish, but they did take me out to a nice breakfast in the gardens. So all in all, I made it through the race - and through another box of tissues. 

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