The athletics team is a little unconventional to most teams. There are 61 athletes on the team for Rio taking part in dramatically different disciplines. During the course of the year most of my contact with other distance runners or track and field athletes from Newcastle. On this trip I am in a team with Australia’s best sprinters, hurdlers, jumpers, throwers walkers and runners. Many of them have spent time on previous trips together so the bonds of friendship already exist. For others, like me, have been out of the picture (or this is their first experience) the sense of belonging has been generously given.
I have observed genuine comradery between all the track and field athletes on this team which has taken on a more practical manifestation in recent days as more of the team travel to the track or to the Olympic venues to support their teammates. Benn Harradine is the ringleader who sets the dress code and time of departure each day. Tonight, though it be unseasonably cool all of the team shall wear short running shorts and a puffer jacket. I didn’t say taste was his thing.
A remarkable achievement at this games is the strength of the women’s distance events. Tonight there will be three women in the 5000m final as Eliose Wellings, Madeleine Heiner-Hills and Gen Lacaze take to the track. While I am not a statistician I doubt if we have ever provided three athletes in an Olympic final of an individual event before. Such positive results appear to have buoyed the other athletes in the team, similarly there is typically an embrace of support when athletes don’t quite perform to the level they hope for. This is a strange team, out there in the field of play each of us is on our own, but away from that there is a genuine support network.
The marathon, like all athletics disciplines is unique, it is practiced by millions of people all over the world. This will be my 16th marathon, each of them being a very special experience and each with challenges that I had to face once out on course.
I am thankful for my own support network that have supported me to this start line. I am in good shape and ready to face the challenges the distance throws at me on Sunday. To all who have read and enjoyed this blog, thank you for your interest. I hope this has provided a little insight as to how I view my journey towards a life time goal. A goal that seemed to be left as a dreamy ambition of a younger version of myself.
Perhaps all of us can afford to continue to be a little dreamy from time to time..