I work with software, and we have things like patterns and (anti) patterns. An (anti) pattern is a bad pattern that you shouldn’t implement. So an (anti) race review is similar in a sense, the sort of race review that you should never write.
This (anti) race review is called “How Andy and I lost the race and got to eat all the popcorns”.
The shed was probably red but did anyone notice the colour?
It might be called Pelican Island, complete with birdwatchers and their binoculars, but there were no pelicans.
The forest might be secret, but has anyone discovered its secrets after 55 hours?
(As I am writing this, Kevin and Ryan are on their 55th hour after breaking the Australian record for backyards).
Now that’s unfairly cryptic for those who haven’t attended the Clint Eastwood course, so let me elaborate.
There are 3 landmarks on the course, called Pelican Island, Secret Forest and Red Shed.
On each lap, you visit the island twice, the forest once and the shed once.
You’d think things get monotonous after a few laps, and folks – out of the original 250 runners on the starting list – start to drop out of sheer boredom.
Clearly not, judging by the number of runners still standing under the arch at the 100km mark. Kid you not, there were still a hundred of them!
The Red Shed was my favourite, as it was where I got to eat and drink and let Lisa play with my stinky socks and shirts (thank you Lisa!).
The Island was my second favourite, where I, like a hundred other male runners, found our outdoor relief spot under the full moon.
The forest was tedious, a 15min loop for me, where the reality of the race would hit you in one sweeping panorama every single time – hundreds of runners, each in a race against themselves, who were clearly determined not to stop.
So that’s my race. 6.7km per hour. You run until everyone else “dies”. Pretty simple idea, really. I had run in the inaugural edition of this race a few years ago, completing 12 laps. This time, I was mentally prepared for a few more laps. But the race did not pan out the way I expected at all. The first couple of laps were cruisy. I was executing a cunning plan to perfection, slow and steady. Then all of a sudden, I found myself in struggle town as early as Lap 3! For real? You’d ask. The ground was jarring, and the body started to ache. I thought that was pretty unusual, so I changed to shoes with thicker cushion. It helped for one lap, then I found myself in struggle-town again. Here you go, I thought. I didn’t expect the fight to come on so early, but when the fight brought itself to you, you just had to deal with it.
Every lap then turned into problem solving. Perhaps that was why I found myself hungrier than usual. The body knew it was under duress, and was trying to compensate. Andy was cruising but looked batshit bored. I suspect that not finding pelicans nor secrets in the forest disappointed him. Soon he was running shirtless, a towering inked figure over the long straights, constantly disappearing at the end of each lap. His disappearances got more frequent. I was surprised Andy managed to hang in there for that long with his digestive system clearly troubling him, but after a brave 11 laps, he decided to hang up the boots. His guts needed, and deserved, a good rest.
At that point, I was still prepared for a long haul through the night. The night was always going to be my advantage, as I knew runners would start to drop. The plan was to take one lap at a time, solving problems as they arrived. On lap 13, I was cruising and feeling great. But how quickly things would change in a backyard race! On lap 14, just after entering Pelican Island for the second time, I felt a sharp pain on my right knee. The right side weakened significantly, and I resorted to walking. When I realised that I could no longer run, I knew my race was over. 14 laps, 2 laps better than my previous effort on this course, 3 laps fewer than my last effort at MVP. Naturally, I was disappointed, as I was expecting a bit longer time on feet. But when the body stops playing ball, there’s really not much you can do.
Andy had packed enough camping gear for 3 days. There were all sorts of food we had packed for the race, but never touched, including popcorns.
My younger son loves to say this whenever I ask him to run, “You see, there’s two kinds of people in the world, my friend: those who run and those who eat popcorns. You run.”
(If it sounds cryptic to you, it’s a bastardised Clint Eastwood line).
We lost the race, but we got to sleep in a real bed that night and I got to eat the popcorns the next day on my flight back to Melbourne. The kids were overjoyed to see me turn up a day earlier than planned.
I guess that’s positive news, as had we run for longer, the popcorns might have never got eaten! 2022 has been a good year for popcorns.
Thank you to AAA Racing & Coaching, Andrew Westwick Lisa Mammana, and so many familiar faces at this race – runners, supporters and volunteers! You guys were the real winners of the race.