21.1km is not quite half way in a marathon. That’s what is commonly said by our best ever Australian marathoners. I first heard Pat Carroll declare that halfway in the marathon is the 30 km mark. This assertion was reiterated by both Steve Moneghetti and Rob de Castella over this weekend to various gatherings during the Gold Coast Marathon.
Still, a half marathon race is still a long way and is in fact a more popular distance to run than the full marathon. My first half marathon was the 1992 Canberra Half Marathon which started and finished from the yacht club on the southern shores of Lake Burley Griffin. My father had succumbed to my constant badgering from yours truly and had agreed to take me to the race which was in mid-May and took in a complete lap of the west basin of the lake.
I enjoyed a leisurely pace early on following the advice from my coach at the time John Atterton. Passing 10km without incident I left the company of the experienced men I was running with and finished strongly passing folks all the way to around 1:17min. I was pretty chuffed with myself until I stayed to watch the presentation where Rodney Higgins had punched out a low 63min defeating Rob de Castella in the process. This was a course record for the event and I remember Rod saying at the presentation he was delighted with the conditions. This became a point of conjecture as the Race Director Dave Cundy believed it lacked the ’frost on the ground’ in the early morning to be granted the ’ideal conditions’ tag. From memory Dave and Rod had to agree to disagree!
I think I knew travelling back to Alectown after that event that I knew where my natural strength was; endurance. I thought that even though Rod Higgins had run mind boggling fast that I could one day do it too. What I didn’t know was that Rod could also run very fast on the track and that speed is required even for half marathon and marathon runners.
Today’s half marathon was probably between my 50 60th over the distance. It remains a true challenge to one’s endurance which I shared with 10,000 like-minded individuals on a fine Gold Coast morning. And despite the rhetoric that it is only half a marathon in distance, not in effort or intensity, I was happy to stop at 21.1!
Picture above: The Gold Coast Half Marathon also doubled as the Australian Half Marathon Championships. I was pleased to take the silver medal behind race winner Duer Yoa of Victoria and just ahead of multi talented Tasmanian Josh Harris. Both young men are talented runners looking to become international level marathoners.