This morning saw me miss the group workout of 400m reps owing to a much needed sleep in. by the time I got going there was a school carnival on the favoured â€œBlue Trackâ€ so I ran onto the fallback option of the Carrington Trail. I am comfortable here having lived in Carrington for a few years. The trail is the only crushed gravel in the Newcastle area and now draws plenty of runners being the home of Newy parkrun.
It’s important for me to be flexible and although I would have much preferred to run steady 400m reps on the track running 500m reps between the Simon White certified parkrun distance markers was probably what I needed. (Simon is another 1975 vintage, a great mate and budding Course Measurer having learned from Dave Cundy.)
Running on my own with only a few small dogs and their owners paying casual attention was also a nice change. Heck it was almost a sneaky training session! There were no heckles from the other users of the trail this morning but that has not always been the case. During my residency in Carrington I received two of my top 7 running heckles of my career.
Whilst completing a weekday morning jog which entailed 2 laps of the Carrington loop I passed a couple of Newcastle City Council employees undertaking some work on one of the paths. I gave them a fair bit of room trying to avoid an interaction, it was to no avail as one particularly large bloke yelled;
â€œHey mate, I just saw your twin brother run past!â€
Yet another Carrington incident was running in the late afternoon on New Year’s eve. Ok so that’s a bit silly I’ll admit. It was warm too so after a while the shirt came off but quickly went on again after I passed a wine and cheese group, one guy decides to show off to the group;
â€œhey I never knew skeletons could run!â€
During the winter of 2005 I was committed to the evening runs after a day of work around the streets of Newcastle. Being Newly married I thought I should become more safety conscious and purchased a LED headlamp. I was clearly never in light so dim that I needed a headlamp to see but i reasoned it would make other pedestrians or motorists aware of my existence. The novelty lasted just one run as I passed a ute with a couple of young blokes in it one turns to the other and says;
“Hey look, that guy’s got a glow in the dark knob!”
â€œRun Forrest run!â€
Whilst the quote is an overused heckle for runners it still evokes a little bit of nostalgia for me as the 1994 Forrest Gump movie was during my first year of uni. I was warming up for a track session at Armidale’s Harris Park under the careful eye of coach David Sauer when a Holden Torana with a bunch of kids in it flew past. One of them leant far out the window to deliver the first â€œRun Forrest Runâ€ of my career! I am now over 300 and still countingâ€¦.
I have never soiled myself whilst running but my 3rd top heckle was close. It was simply frightening and happened during my time as an undergrad student at Armidale in the mid 1990’s. The phrase used was simple but the delivery outstanding. I was running alongside Golf Club road in the outskirts of Armidale on a crisp afternoon. I took care to run on the right hand side of the road, a common practice so I could see danger approaching. This did not stop a group of students veering the car onto the right hand lane, accelerating the Mach 2 and screaming out;
They were merely cm away when they passed and my heart stopped momentarily. Dangerous but effective.
Probably my favourite. I was completing a set of ’Hunter Street Hills’ in Newcastle with my training partners Angela Leadbeater, Steve Manning and Simon Hurt back in 1999. I was running particularly hard up the renowned Brown Street when one guy, standing on his front deck holding a beer declares;
â€œPush mate, your mother had to!â€
Sometimes a heckle can lead to a rugby tackle. It was Melbourne Cup day in 2004 during my final year in Canberra. I had held off running my fav 8 x 3min session until after the running of ‘The Cup’. It was a drizzly cool afternoon as I took to Southwell Park for my first of 8 reps and passed in front a couple of racegoers coming home from the local club.
“Go mate” “C’mon get into it” and “Go for gold” were all relatively benign compared to what was to come.
At the end of my third rep the fella’s who were as ‘full as googs’ had located my warm up tracksuit and one of them had thrown it on and proceeded in delivering a unique haka. He stood in the middle of my path despite acres of grass open to him such that I needed to swerve to get around him. Completing the workout was my number one priority so I asked the guy to return the tracksuit to where he found it and I continued on. This was not to be the last of the matter.
In my penultimate 3min effort I was running hard and fast. My mate who had sat out and watched me training for the last little while had his mojo back and jogged out onto the grass sizing me up. He held my line getting close to the end of the effort when ‘old mate’ runs full speed from the side taking me down in a cover tackle that would have made George Gregan proud!
“C’mon mate I was just joking, lighten up!” was the response I received as I got quickly to me feet and sped off.
Whilst no-one was there but me and the two guys in question, I first told of my experience to my good mate Philo Sanders who now does a pretty good re enactment and probably tells the story better than me!
The heckle can be both humorous and humiliating and I have experienced both. Interestingly during the times I have trained in the United States I only ever received encouragement. â€œCommon buddyâ€ or â€œlooking goodâ€ were used most everyday as I ran in places with other pedestrians. Makes me wonder why we don’t say that to each other more here in Australia. Challenge accepted!