The Canberra Times Aust. Running Festival

Canberra Half Marathon & Marathon

April 15 2018 | Presented by Tata Consultancy Services

Ask anyone, (anyone who enjoys running that is) and the majority will say that running is the best way to discover the sights of a new city. For someone who hadn’t been to Canberra in a number of years, and for one who had never been, this theory rang true.

The headline event of The Australian Running Festival, – the Canberra Marathon is said to be Australia’s oldest city marathon, which has been held since 1976. It takes place in early April each year and incorporates some family fun and friendlier distances of 5kms and 10kms on the Saturday, followed by the half-marathon, marathon and ultra-marathon (50kms) on the Sunday.

Despite a very fresh start (8 Deg. – no surprises there really), as well some hefty head winds to contest; the course itself (from a tourist’s perspective) was a scenic, mostly flat tour of the nation’s capital.

Starting within sight of Parliament House, the route winds its way around the old and new Parliament buildings, as well other Government buildings, The National Gallery of Australia and Lake Burley Griffin, – crossing both the Kings Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue bridges, all the while keeping the Telstra Tower in view for the most part.

Heading out along Parkes Way and running through Acton Tunnel was a bit of a novelty (think small scale Burnley Tunnel, Melbourne), until we were welcomed at the tunnels end by strong head winds and no protection from the weather by any means. A few hundred metres of going nowhere fast, securing the visor and cursing mother nature for messing with my previously consistent ave. km/hr pace, it seemed a wise choice to opt for the half mara.. Sorry C – #keeprunning. (who did the 42.2kms in a champions’ effort I might add!).

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Given the running festival was a complete sell out this year – circa 11,000 participants (congrats to all involved), I was very fortunate to skim a late entry due to a friend’s friend plagued by injury and unfit to race. Excited to start and to run away the goose bumps, (so ridiculously fresh!!), I spent some good (precious) time weaving through the crowds to find some space. Though my late entry meant I started close to the back and it was a time consuming process to edge further to the front, – stop/start, running circles to get ahead, contemplating the curb, etc., –  it was really nice to race a ‘fun run’ again and to enjoy the sense of community that events like this offer and support. It’s so encouraging and wonderful to see that people from all walks of life, fitness levels and body shapes turn up to ‘tri’ their best.

To digress, though worthwhile mentioning, is a lady I had met at the hotel on the morning of the event – Amy. She had just taken up running in January of this year as a means to a healthier lifestyle. She had kept very hush amongst her friends about her weekend’s adventure (travelled from Sydney) in that she would run 21kms to prove to herself that she could. In just 12 weeks of running. 0 > 21kms. Incredible effort.

Anyways, the event started well, and on time. Busy but well. I found my stride early and maintained my target pace of 4.45 min/kms. (Also warranting a mention is that I’m no elite athlete by any means. Rather, just an everyday, works f/t human who enjoys a challenge and keeping fit). I was loving the chill factor, the gentle undulations, as well the excitement of running a new course alongside others’ – which, I had done next to no training for… #wouldpayforthislater.

Much to my surprise, I sustained those ‘feel good’ moments for quite some time and genuinely enjoyed the tour. In comparison to swimming and cycling, I find running tough but the kilometres ticked by and it wasn’t long until we hit the 10km mark. Almost half way. I was slightly behind schedule due to the headwinds, though feeling relatively good and in high spirits otherwise. My friend was on the course and C was running the Mara, so I had distractions to keep an eye out for, as well new scenery to absorb.

From the 15 km mark I began to feel the fatigue. The uphill and the point of turnaround seemed to go on and on. With 6 kilometres to go, I knew I’d be done within 30 minutes (thank goodness!) and I tried to concentrate on the minutes ticking by rather than the distance. The second gel didn’t sit well and I shared the majority of it with the road rather than my body. At 18kms I had had enough and began to wonder how and why this was ‘fun’?.. Why was I doing this? Maybe I could walk some?, I should have just spectated, etc etc. Getting to the finish line with a relatively ok stomach had outweighed the need to fuel properly (overshare – sorry!). So, running on empty and repeatedly reminding myself that my body had trucked through 11+ hours of constant exercise on previous occasions, and to tough it out; together with my stubbornness overriding the demons, was enough to get me to the end. What a welcomed sight that was!

Fair to say that the pace didn’t lift as planned in those last few kilometres, but I was happy to finish a few minutes slower than my target time. Lesson learned – do the work required!


Back to C, he smashed his event. For his first mara, to be a few minutes off his goal time in the conditions that presented on the day, was testament to his attitude and consistency in training. What a boss! Can you share some of that??!

Naturally, he was wrecked afterwards, but true to his ability to front up time over, he pulled himself together and we celebrated his fab achievement with friends and an afternoon of bottomless mimosas! Delicious.

Thanks for having us Canberra! Look forward to the next… round of celebratory drinks! 😉



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I’m a creative, I’m organised chaos, I'm a water baby, and I’m a wanderer. Keeping fit and active is a lifestyle.

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