But today I’m writing for all the middle-aged joggers tackling the 8 klm event for the first time, and I’ll start with this dire warning; your biggest hurdle occurs before the race, where you must avoid the long lines at the toilets. Try and hold on til the finish, or wear very dark pants and hope no one points out the puddles around your feet.
‘Bang!’ You’re Off! This is the last time you’ll see the younger runners as they sprint over the hill while you shuffle forward, another smiling face in the herd. Twenty lung busting metres later, you’ll have discovered why this particular slope is nicknamed ‘Heart Attack Hill’.
Survive the ‘Matterhorn’ and you’re into the ‘Sun Valley Slog’, where you’ll find your running rhythm, along with some alarming noises coming from your knees.
Limping onward you’ll eventually reach the Duck Ponds, where the cheers of encouragement from the 3K runners will lift your stride, no matter how maimed your feet are. Once past the Bowls Club you’ll be able to return to your regular running style, i.e: zombie shamble.
In Goondoon Street the publicans will ignore your heartfelt pleas for free beer, but you’ll get a real buzz on the downhill run from the Library where you’ll reach speeds that would make Usain Bolt envious.
As you approach the fountain your ankles will be whizzing past your ears, and you’ll need every micron of sandshoe rubber to avoid overshooting the corner and spearing headlong into Auckland Creek; to the delight of the Yacht Club patrons.
After re-entering the sound barrier, it’s a quick skip over the bridge through the park and across the finish line. You should hang round to cheer on the late finishers, but I generally use this time to seek urgent medical attention.
Anyway, a hearty ‘Well Done!’ to all the competitors, their supporters, the GPA, and the army of enthusiastic volunteers. I sincerely hope ‘Cut Back’ Campbell doesn’t slash funding for future runs, although if he does, I’m sure other sponsors will cheerfully chip in to keep this great event going; hip and knee surgeons, chiropractors, orthotic specialists, physiotherapists, first aid suppliers, liniment manufacturers…