I used to jog but the ice cubes kept falling out of my glass.
- David Lee Roth
One day, out of the blue I started to run.
Simply because I wanted to.
The passion that I have developed for running, the homemade void, the silence and long-distance running play an important role in my life, and the ties between running and life act as a driving force as well as an escape.
Yourself as the only and ultimate opponent.
Hurt being an unavoidable reality.
I do not run because I want to live long but, but because it aides in a Thoreau-esque way to suck the marrow out of life, corner it and get rid of what is irrelevant.
If you are going to while away the years, it is far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive than in a fog, and I believe running can help to do exactly that.
As the ever on-point and poignant Murakami put it so eloquently, exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: That is the essence of running for me, and a metaphor for life.
When you are running, you do not have to talk to anybody and do not have to listen to anybody. That is something irresistible.
Running in void.
Running from the void.
Running into the void.
Italian hardcore pioneers Cheetah Chrome Motherfuckers would be proud. Okay, so there is casual running.
Then there are marathons.
Officially, running one means that 42.195 kilometres need to be covered, mostly on concrete and it is common knowledge that the genesis of marathons finds its roots in a soldier from Greece, going by them name of Pheidippides, being tasked to relay a message from the Battle of Marathon to the nation’s capital. The outcome was that he achieved the mission yet died as a result of it.
Still got the job done.
Commitment on par with excellence.
While the distance only became benchmarked and standardised in the early 1920s, it was one of the first disciplines as part of the modern Olympics as early as 1896.
It caught on and as a result there are hundreds of marathons run on yearly basis, most of which in a recreational manner and some having thousands of active runners.
Bigger cities tend to have their own variants of marathons and related running events.
Let us have a look at the ones that I have had the opportunity to experience on terra australis:
The most popular one in Australia?
Easy - City to Surf, clocking in 14 kilometres it is the most accessible run and held on a yearly basis.
City to Surf caters to both ends 0f the spectrum: It is both a race in the traditional sense as well as a fun event, serving as a magnet for a day out with close to 100,000 participants every year, resulting in it being one of the largest runs of its kind.
The run is staggered with first access given to disabled participants, invitation-only seeded runners coming second along with preferred runners. Next are runners who can prove a finishing time below seventy minutes they have achieved previously, followed by ones who completed the run previously below 90 minutes. Then comes group that is not subjected to any time limitations and it culminates in the back of the pack, i.e. you can walk the distance if you have to.
Starting smackbang in the centre of Sydney, the course snakes along the Eastern parts of Sydney and finishes at Bondi Beach – the epitome of picturesque Australian postcard perfection.
What is cool about City to Surf is the fact that you will be serenaded by amateur and sometimes well-established bands performing along the suburban roads, e.g. Australian indie darlings You Am I performed an impromptu early surprise set on the rooftop terrace of a pub to cheer on the runners of the 2017 incarnation.
Valentines Day Hug the Harbour Marathon in February is a 42km run in Australia’s winter around Sydney’s iconic harbour.
An enjoyable low-key event and heavy on scenery.
Instructions are easy to follow: Rock up and convene outside Bavarian Bier Cafe at the Manly Wharf and try to get yourself to the pub at Watson’s Bay at the end of it.
As for training tracks, it does not get better when it comes to coastal runs than the 5km Bondi to Coogee.
Starting where the City2Surf finished, i.e. Bondi Beach, it runs along the seaside of Sydney passing by all the main beaches Sydneytown is known for.
Take in and pay a memento mori at Waverley’s Cemetery, watch whales if you are lucky and indulge in a salty seaside breeze. Perfect.
A first highlight of the running calendar each year is the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon, which is traditionally held in May and the first major race of the year with around 10,000 participants.
The race has an early start, is comprised of undulating hills circumnavigating the Sydney CBD and the real killer comes towards the end as just when you’ve thought you’ve made it, it goes uphill and you better save some energy to make it to the finishing line as you have to drag yourself past Lady Macquarie’s Chair.
With the Blackmore Half- and Marathon in September, you get one of the best organized runs in the country: Starting across the iconic Harbour Bridge, it ends by the Opera House and leads past other landmarks, despite the course meandering a bit back and forth. Not super flat but not extravagantly hilly either. The last stretch around Circular Quay goes across prime Australian real estate that you will not normally get to run and is quite something, even by Australian picturesque standards.
Volunteers are cheerful and there is a general buzz about the event with plenty of water stations and free energy gels for the marathon runners.
The event is coordinated with public transport and your racing bib entitles you for free transport to and from the event
If you are remotely interested in running events, you would have heard of Tough Mudder. Not so much a race but more of an exercise in endurance of approximately twenty kilometres. Twenty kilometres of obstacles and adverse territory that has to be conquered, demanding not only physical but mental toughness.
There won’t be any medals or laurels waiting for you at the finishing line.
It is as down to earth as it gets, with just an icy brewski being the reward.
It is a fun event, especially if you participate with a team and have specifically trained for the challenges – and challenges there are aplenty:
“Electroshock therapy”, “Birth canal”, “Mud mile”, “The Block Ness monster”, “Snot rocket”, “Quagmire” and “Arctic enema” are mere examples of obstacles that have to be mastered and if you think that it is all about novelty names, you are mistaken.
While one does not have to be an elite athlete to participate and the event is about camaraderie and a fun time, it is highly recommended to prepare adequately far in advance to be able to not just last the course, but defy gravity, take sometimes not very calculable risks and overcome your fears.
Running and gear.
Now, that is quite a topic in itself. I started off caveman-style using random running shows, band shirts and shorts. As I kept running, started roaming around the globe, lived on different continents and ran in different climates all year around, things got a tad more sophisticated. Along the 6,800km I have run over the last couple of years, I have tried, and used up a lot of gear from established brands to no name cheapo brands in Europe, across Asia and Oceania. Some looked better than others, but did not perform well and failed to last. Not too many moons ago, Adidas, which had not been on my running gear radar for a long time, has entered the picture with their recent range, has not left since as it ticks quite a few boxes and all relevant ones for what I am doing. Running shorts of choice are the Supernova Dual moisture wicking shorts with a sweat-guard zip pocket as they combine the snug coverage of tights with the easy, loose cut of lightweight shorts. Built from sweat-wicking fabric for long-lasting dry comfort, they feature a lightweight outer layer over inner tights that provide light support and minimize chaffing. The shorts feature climalite fabric, which sweeps sweat away from your skin, providing ventilation and moisture management, and technology that ensures optimum visibility in lowlight conditions. Most importantly, they are light and feel great.
Adidas’ running tops use Deltapeak - a balanced, ultra-high functionality, material which achieves a sophisticated fusion of comfort and features like light weight and stretch.
Feel-good-factor is off the charts: I have yet to encounter a fabric that does a better job, has a better fit and is able to weather cold, wet, humid and extremely hot climates.
Shoe-wise the Adizero Boost Adios 3 takes the cake as it combines the toughness of an everyday trainer and the nimbleness of a racing shoe.
You might have heard of the Yeezy Boost range that turns heads of sneaker heads and sole collectors the world over.
The focus with Adidas Boost Adios 3 is not so much about looking fancy and trying to resemble something out of space – au contraire – in fact, it looks like a very classic, stripped down Adidas design, but it is all about the performance enhancing qualities it provides. Despite being super light, it is robust and sturdy where it needs to be.
With its newly-improved Continental rubber compound in the outsole, the Adizero Boost Adios 3 has proved to be a suitable companion for both short runs as well as long-distance running to enhance an already very good traction along with a snug upper that adapts very well to the movements and strains of running.
Another feature I have come to appreciate if the responsive cushioning of the Boost midsole, sufficient arch support and its effortless gait cycle.
A super light and comfortable shoe that comes on the narrow side of things, so you would want to get it one size bigger than you would usually go for.
Photos from Adidas website