The plan for this race was just to get involved, race without a watch and see if I can challenge for the win. And to be honest mostly everything went to plan, except I finished 3rd. However, I was certainly in the race for the full distance and it was a great race to be involved in.
The course is basically 10k out and then back again along the sunny Gold Coast. Barring a couple of small bridges it’s pretty flat and the gentle coastal breeze wasn’t anything to complain about. I DID complain about the race starting at 6am though. Getting up at 3.30 am for a race seems very wrong and huddling over my cereal and instant coffee on a chilly morning wasn’t overly enjoyable. I’d looked over the previous results for the race and the $3,000 1st prize wasn’t high enough to draw in many overseas runners, but the times were quick. Training partner Jeff Hunt had run sub 63 here, as had Martin Dent, who was racing again this year. Also running was Liam Adams (2012 winner) plus 4 or 5 others who would be up there in the mix.
My plan was to not focus on time and just race it. I expected Martin Dent to make a move before 15k, while Liam Adams would probably sit in until the end. We started in pitch darkness and myself and Martin Dent were at the front of a big group, and we went throughuh 1k in 2.56. The whole ‘no watch’ idea didn’t make any difference as the lead car was right in front of me and everyone’s watch beeped every 1k! Still, I wasn’t measuring split times and I felt really relaxed at the front running 3.00ks or so. Everyone seemed happy to let me lead and I was telling msyelf to relax and not do anythign too silly early on, as I felt pretty comfortable. We hit 5k in about 15.05 or so and the lead group had about 7 people in and I was still at the front. I occasionally gently pushed the pace and got a small gap but didnt want to make a real aggressive move yet.
I felt like I was controlling the race a bit and was thinking about when I would really try and make a move. I wasn’t sure if everyone else felt as comfortable as me or was just hanging ona bit and when Martin Dent went to the front at about 8k it was clear I wasn’t the only one feeling comfortable. Myself and Marty ran side by side or traded the lead for a while and when we hit 10k in 30.18 I was starting to think when I would make a real move.
Myself and Marty traded ‘surges’ for the next few ks and kept the pace pretty honest. At one point I thought Marty had been trying to make a decisive move as he stretched things out and he was looking round to see if he had dropped anyone, but in hindsight I think he was just testing the waters. We still had 5-6 in the group after a 3.08 14th k. I didn’t know until later that this split was slower but I must have sensed something as I decided that with 7k to go it was time to really try and lose some of the group. I tried to increase the pace and wasn’t giving it everything, but was pretty close to it. The next few kms were 3.02, 3.01, 2.58 and then Marty went past me and surged himself. He got a small gap and Liam Adams, Ben Ashkettle and a Japanese guy moved past me and I remember thinking I’d been stupid to lead so much of it and had only fatigued myself more than I needed to. I told myself to stay focussed and moved back into 2nd, leading the chase to close the gap. I almost fully closed it before Marty surged again and clipped off 2.58ks to gain 50-60m or so with just 2k to go. The sun was coming up now and I could see by the shadow that someone was still right behind me. Previously I knew it was Ben Ashkettle so I assumed it was him. I could sense there was a bit of a gap behind that and was trying to force myself to really hurt to close the gap to 1st.
With 1k to go the gap started to close a bit, to 5-6 seconds or so. I still had someone right on my shoulder but I was also slowly clawing Marty back. I could see the turn for 300m to go and was just trying to give myself a chance for the final sprint. As we hit the turn, the guy behind me shot past me, and it was the Japanese guy who I’d barely seen all race. I knew I couldn’t catch Marty but I started sprinting to try and make the gap on 2nd and I wasn’t 100% sure there was no-one else behind me as the crowds were so loud I couldn’t hear anything.
In the end Marty just held on to win in 63.56, with the Japanese guy in 63.57 and me in 63.59. I looked at the clock and could tell it was going to be close to get under 64mins and I’m glad I judged it right! Fair play to Marty – he judged his surge really well to get the gap I couldn’t get and even though I could have sat in more early on, I think I did the right thing keeping the pace honest and also to make the move with 7k to go. I was slightly annoyed to only end up with 3rd as I thought the win was there to be had, but I still ran a good PB and I enjoyed really racing a half marathon as opposed to falling off a pace and hanging on.
Ben Ashkettle finished 4th in 64.12, and Liam Adams 5th in 64.49.
Martin Dent’s splits are here
I’m happy with the result and I hoped I was in PB shape as training had been going well but I didn’t have any real markers to know for sure. I also hadn’t really ramped up the training as much as for a marathon and so to run a big PB with more work to come is really encouraging.