Sydney City2Surf 2012 – an intimate run with 85,000 of your closest friends

World’s largest run

 The Sydney City2Surf is the largest run in the world.  85,000 runners.  It’s no surprise it happens in a major city in Australia where people are generally fitter than anywhere else in the world I’ve ever lived.  It’s also no surprise that it’s absolutely packed from sidewalk to sidewalk for the early parts of the race.  And the event planners have actually done something smart in having large sections of the race qualify in order to get a start time – i.e. you have to have a decent time in another Australian event to get into the Red or Green group.  You don’t need to be an elite to get into these groups, you just need to be a runner.  For example, my Sydney half-marathon time (1:48) just missed the cutoff to get me into the fast group, a.k.a. the Red Group, which again is separate from the Elite runners.  So I started with a few thousand friends all wearing the green bib numbers.

Three’s company, 85,000 is a crowd

Even with the smart spacing / pacing, you’re still in a crowd of runners.  My first km took about 6 minutes, which made me realize the target time of 70 minutes was not going to happen today.  70 minutes is the magic number for getting into the red group next year.  While I didn’t really have any aspiration of doing this run again, I though it was a great goal to qualify to be able to run in the red group.  But I let that goal go all too easily and settled in to enjoy the run – deciding only to check my pace but not use my watch for time or distance.

Above or below 70

I won’t put you through one of those race reports that gives you step by step, inhale to exhale details.  In summary:

  • I’m still not sure if using my running tights was the right thing.  It kept me from getting too cold during the run, but I think my tights have too much compression to run more than 10K in them.  They call tights “skins” here in Oz, which I just can’t say, given that it used to be a slang word in the states for something else.
  • Heartbreak hill just isn’t that bad.  It’s long, but it’s never steep.  The entire course only climbs about 100m in total, though it does it all at once.  The downhills hurt a lot worse.
  • As I rounded the final turn and could see the finish line, I glanced at my watch at it read 69 minutes.  The finish line was more than a minute away.  I bore down and pushed myself, hoping for a Dibaba-like miracle.  I ran hard but crossed the finish line in 70 minutes, 42 seconds (according to my watch – they are a bit slow in Oz about getting race results up online).
  • Overall, pretty happy given that I’ve been focusing on P90X and only running once a week.

Big corporate love

Thanks to being a customer of one of the event’s big sponsors I got to wolf down a sausage roll while standing in a protected tent in the windy conditions at the finish line.  Then thanks to Lisa’s company, we had a room inside the Swiss Grand Hotel with free massages, free food and drinks, and protection from the cold.  I met a bunch of her co-workers, and realized how much my impression of Australians is colored by the fact that I work mostly with Australian software engineers, not really a good sampling of the population.  Her colleagues reminded me a lot more of my friends back home, and my teammates from T3.

Bus fail

Several people had said the bus system worked really well.  I think that’s definitely true if you hop right on a bus when you finish and there are no queues.  By the time we left the Swiss Grand, the line for buses looked to be close to an hour long.  So we walked back to Bondi Junction and caught a bus from there: not what my legs wanted, but better than standing for an hour.

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