Tuesday, 22 December 2015

What's that in miles?

Kilometres. Ask me what the main cultural challenge has been since I’ve been running in Australia and it’s kilometres. Endless calculations that start with ‘well a 5k is 3.1 miles and a 4 minute k gives you a 20 minute parkrun which is about 6:30 a mile, and I’ve run 8k in the last 40 minutes so that must be, er, 5, no, yes, about 5 miles which is about 8 minutes per k, that can’t be right. 8 minutes per mile. Ace. Wait.’ By this point I’ve run another k and have to start again.

But the cultural challenges of the metric system are nothing, nothing compared to the climactic challenges of running Down Under.

When it’s cold you can always put on another layer. If it’s raining you can just get wet, or put on another layer. But when it’s already 30 degrees at 8am and the sun wants to aggressively cook your insides for some reason and there’s not a lick of shade and you’re a pasty white Englishman who’s spent the last decade living in Scotland, you suddenly realise that there aren’t enough layers to take off before you’re calculating km splits in the back of a police van because running in the nude is apparently not allowed in city centre parklands.

Yes, I’ve moved to Australia and it’s bloody brilliant. Melbourne, where the Crew Chief and I have settled is a runner’s playground and once you’ve navigated the massive road system and waited a million years for your traffic light to change there are endless trails, footpaths, parks, beaches, rivers and roads to explore.

I’ve become a morning person out of necessity – it’s too hot to run at lunchtime and my long-held favourite after-work training slot is often the hottest part of the day – so I’m out at 6.30am two or three times a week and am practically a regular at my local parkrun (I've been five times), which starts at 8am. I’ve also revived something of my University schedule and been running after 9pm some nights to try to beat the heat, with massive bats overhead, possums scurrying into bushes underfoot and the city skyline lit up in the middle distance.

28 degrees at the start line, 30 at the finish line. An arduous 23 minutes in between.
The problem will be when I need to run longer distances, because there just aren’t that many cool hours in the day at the moment. And that time is coming.

Yup I’ve registered for another marathon. After graciously bowing out of Yorkshire this year on the grounds that I, well, left the hemisphere in which it was being held, I’ve been scouting around for another. Actually Ben did the scouting for me and now here we are – planning for the 2016 Great Ocean Road Marathon. Yikes.

Except inexplicably the Great Ocean Road Marathon is 45km, not 42.2km like you could quite reasonably imagine. Strung out on a piece of extraordinary southern coastline – next stop Antarctica – I guess the GOR organisers have limited options for logical start and finish points so 45km it is. There’s a timing mat at 42.2 so you do get a proper marathon time, but the rules are clear; if you cross the 42.2km line but not the 45km line, you get a DNF for the whole race and no times at all. Those last couple of kms are basically non-negotiable and you’ve technically got to finish an ultra to qualify as having finished the marathon. Brutal.

I’m telling you. Kilometres. Not to be trusted.

Happy running


Miles: apparently 765, Kilometres: 1,231, races: 3, parkruns: 11