In theory, running should be the most undramatic of sports. The requirements are simple; you turn up at the start line, and when the horn sounds you run the allotted distance to the finish, at whatever pace you are capable of maintaining.
However yesterday’s inaugural Barrie Half Marathon drove home the point to me that even a simple half-marathon can be a dramatic event.
It started well, with the course taking us around Kempenfelt Bay on trails that I train on regularly. This was home ground, and kept my breathing steady and my body loose.
The course brought us back past the start/finish line about half-way through the race. I crossed the 10k marker enjoying the cheering crowds, running well and on pace to finish close to my personal best time.
A few minutes later I passed the 11k marker limping on knees that had suddenly refused to work. My quads had tightened up and I my legs would only allow me to run a hundred metres or so before requiring me to stop, stretch, and walk.
So, I walked, limped and hobbled the next ten kilometers. This was a humbling experience for me – I’m used to experiencing races if not from the front, then at least from well up into the ‘business end’. This time, first I watched the guys I’d been pacing out with vanish into the distance, and then most of the rest of the pack run past me. At about 17k I was dropped by a guy with only one leg.
Now, this being running, everyone was supportive. Practically every runner and volunteer called out encouragement or checked if I was OK. And so, despite running probably the slowest race of my life, and crossing the line at two hours and five minutes, I finished.
And it was worth it.