Race Review: Australian Running Festival

Event: Australian Running Festival
Distance: 5km, 10km, Half Marathon, Marathon, Ultra Marathon
Type: Loop, with there and backs
Where: Canberra, ACT
Start: Old Parliment House
Finish: West Lawns, Parkes Way
Event Partners / Supporters: TATA, Rebel, Gu, NUUN, Visit Canberra


The Australian Running Festival, is set in our nation’s capital of Canberra.

This year the festival was held on the 14-15th April.

Saturday holds the shorter events of the 5km and 10km distance.

While Sunday holds the longer events of the half marathon, marathon, and ultra.

I made the decision at the end of 2017 that I would hang up my trail shoes, dust off those road shoes, and go chase that elusive half marathon PB.

The training was done, now it was time to perform.

We arrived in Canberra on Friday.  Our Airbnb apartment was in Reid, and centrally located.  We were a block away from the city centre, which was handy, as we were able to walk to get groceries and stretch out the legs after such a long drive.

While we out getting our things, the heavens opened up and it poured down with rain.  The winds were gale like.

Now apart of my pre-race preparation is to stalk the weather app. It was looking to be 17 and sunny.  I could handle that.  I thus I packed my race outfit accordingly.

When we arrived on Friday, the rain clouds were rolling in.  While we were out grocery shopping, the heavens opened up, and it poured.

Race central was only 3k’s away from our apartment, so I made the decision on Saturday morning to do my last shake out run to the event village to collect my race bib.

While it was overcast, the wind was still out.  The verdict for race day temp was still out.

There was no point worrying about the weather.  It would be whatever it would be.  Instead, we decided to enjoy our visit, and get some sights in while we were here.

A bonus part of my visit was catching up with some of the wonderful Op Move ladies. We had coffee and chatted, in all places a nursey! Hopefully, I get another opportunity to catch up with my ‘virtual’ running buddies again.

Once back at the apartment I laid out my race outfit, double checked all my gear.

Another storm had rolled in, with the works, lightning, thunder and gale winds.  I figured the more it rains now, the less it will rain in the morning.

I checked that my alarm was on, and tried to get some sleep.

Upon waking, I got dressed, ate a small breakfast, and just tried to relax.

I was nervous and anxious.  While I know that this is a normal process for events, it never gets better.

It was cold, and I felt underdressed.  I had an old pair of socks that I converted into gloves to keep my arms warm.  I figured I could always ditch them when required.

Kissing the family goodbye, I made my way to the start line.  It was still windy.  Having to hold onto my hat and bib as I crossed the bridge.

At the event village, I met out with another running group, wished them all good luck, then made my way to the port-a-loo line.

When the nervous wee was done, I walked to the start line, in front of old parliament house, and waited to start.

I spotted some pacing groups but was disappointed to discover that there wasn’t a 1h45 group (105 mins).  They had pacers, but 85/90/100/110/120.  I knew that 100 mins (1h40) was way more than I could commit to.  So I decided to just keep them in front of me, but not try to stick with them.

The time had arrived, now would be the moment to smash out my goal.

Part of my pre-race preparation was to write a timeline of what I wanted to run the race. I broke this down into kilometer groups. This was prior to me knowing that I wouldn’t have a pacer for my time goal of 1h45m.

My Race Timeline

  • 1-5km Stick with pacer
  • 6-10km Gel (Huck) @7ish km
    • Focus on breathe
  • 11-15 km Body Scan
  • 16-18km Gel (SIS) @17ish km
    • Pick up pace
  • 19-20km Mental strength
    • Breathe, you have this
  • 21km Finish Strong
    • Head high & Smile
    • PB!

Writing down my timeline the night prior meant one less mentally taxing thought process during my race.

Things were traveling smoothly, while still on the cooler side, I was feeling nervous, but relaxed & strong.

After having my gel, around the 10km mark, I got to see the lead runners, of not only the marathon but the half marathon as well.  It was a privilege to be able to see and run alongside them.

During my body scan between the 11-15km, I removed my gloves, as I finally had warmed up, but I also noticed that my toe felt sore.

Acknowledging the sore toe, and knowing that there was nothing I could do about it, I ran on.  The pain faded away.

Prior to running over the Kings Ave bridge, the lead female marathon came up behind me, she just looked so effortless.  Not long after that, the 3hour pacer group (marathon) ran past me. Knowing that I had less than a parkrun to go, I knew I could finish strong.

It was time for the last gel to get me over through to the home stretch.

On the last loop, I could feel myself tiring.  Instead of focusing on negative talk, I counted my steps in line with my breath. When I lost count I started again. It was this moment that I wished I had music to distract me.

My watch vibrated, looking down I saw 20km, I knew I was home. There would be a small hill, before getting into the home stretch, but hearing the crowd, the cowbells, spurred me on.

Running down the finishes shute, I ran as fast as my legs could carry me, I crossed the line with a smile from ear to ear.

I had done it. I ran the best I could have run that day. Not only did I get my time goal, I smashed it.

1h43m26s

Collecting my medal and hugs from the family I made my way to the warm down tent to give the legs some respite and get warm.

Back at the apartment, I had an amazing shower.  Got some wicked chaffing (thanks bra), and my toe? It had bled (hence the soreness).  A part of my toenail rubbed against my toe.  Yeah, ouchies.

Tom got me some chicken and corn soup, which was delicious.  Cake, would come later.

I got dressed in some warm clothes, and we went to explore Canberra some more.

Let’s just say stairs were not my friend for the rest of the day. But did I care? Nope.  PB baby, PB.