The Forster Half Marathon: My Hometown Halfa

Today was the third running of the Forster Running Festival. I missed the inaugural year because I was in Canada, but I was there last year, and this year again. It felt like this event had doubled in size since last year. I grew up in Forster, and in high school I worked in the local sports store that is now owned by Peter Cammilleri, the race director, so I do like to get back and support this event.

I had a wedding the night before in Kempsey, so I had to get myself up at ‘stupid o’clock’ (ie 4am) to drive down to Forster. I pulled into the surf club carpark at 6.15 am, the temperature gauge already reading 16 degrees C, parked 20 metres from the start/finish line, and who was the first person I saw? Pip Cave, hard to miss in her hot pink speed shorts, calf sleeves and strider visor.

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I collected my rego pack, and started to get ready for the race. I had been in Armidale the previous week for work, so I had packed my running bag over a week ago. I had forgotten my water belt, calf sleeves and strider visor. I was not even sure if I had remembered to pack gels, but I managed to find a couple floating around in the bottom of my backpack. Pip and i also left mini drink bottles of staminade with our fellow night striders, to collect as we ran through and completed the first lap ( the half marathon is a 2-lap course).

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Just before 7am, we realized we had missed the race briefing, as runners began to move towards the start line. There is no starting mat for this race, all times are off the gun, so I wanted to be up the front. Pip was with me. The plan was to try to consistently run sub-5 minute k’s.

We saw Vlad Shatrov on the start line, and went up to say hi and wish him luck. He said he was not sure how he would go, as this was his comeback race. “We will find out in 1 hour and 10 minutes” he said.  (Geez, I thought to myself, thats insane).

The gun sounded, and we took off down Oyster parade, over the bridge, and towards the Tuncurry Rockpool. Because we were up the front, our first few kilometres were quick, but it felt comfortable. After 4 or 5km, Pip said that she was going to drop off the pace a bit ( we had been running faster than the previously agreed 5 minute k’s).

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Back across the bridge we went, up the main street (Wharf St), down memorial drive, up the Forster breakwall, and then onto a narrow sand/gravel path to take us back towards the surf club. I grabbed my Staminade on the way through, and Dave Robertson (of the Naked Runners, who was the compere) gave me a shout-out on the way through for running a ridiculous amount of marathons this year. I headed up North Street, and then on to another gravel path to take me to the tunaround at the Tanks. From here, it was back the way we came down to the Surf Club, to complete the first lap and do it all again.

It is a very scenic course, run mostly along the water, with quite a few turns, and a bit of grass, sand and gravel thrown in too.

My pace on the second lap was not quite as hot as the first. I tried to maintain sub 5 minute k’s, but my calves did not want to come to the party. Although I felt my energy levels were good and it was my un-rested muscles that were letting me down, I decided to have a second gel. Not sure if it helped. I did get a little boost every time I passed another Night Strider on the course, and gave a little cheer.

With about 6km to go, my garmin started to flag low battery, which was annoying because it meant my watch would no longer display the elapsed time. I had no idea if I was still on track for a PB!

Near the final turnaround, as I was running along the loose gravel path, I was aware that I could feel every rock underfoot, and was glad I had forgotten to bring my GOrun shoes… The skyspeeds were a better choice. I looked ahead to see Mark Northcott running along in his Vibrams… ouch!

I ended up finishing in 1:40:14, just 45 sec shy of a PB. I really should be happy with that. Forster is not a particularly hard course, but it is not a fast course either. And it was 27 degrees C by the time I finished. i definetly felt the heat in the back end of the race.

Finishers! 2nd and 3rd female 20-29.
Finishers! 2nd and 3rd female 20-29.

After Pip finished (only 5 minutes behind me) we grabbed our swimmers and went to cool off in the ocean, before coming back to cheer more striders home in the 10k. It was very hot by then.

As the half marathon starts at 7am, the 10k st 9am and the 5k at 9:45 am, it is possible for a runner to take on all 3. Robbo has thrown down the challenge next yesr for someone to attempt it, and i am keen to give it a go (I love a running challenge!)

Well done to all the Striders who ran today. I definetly felt the strider love on course!

Special congratulations to Vlad Shatrov, winning in a time of 1:09:31.

To put that into perspective, that is the same time i did in the city to surf (14km)… He runs 21km in the time i take for 14km!

Aaaaand! Pip and I got 2nd and 3rd in our age group! Stoked, and not looking forward to moving into the next age bracket, where my winning will probably stop pretty quickly.

Cumulative Toal: 8 full and 2 half marathons in 2013.

http://www.forsterrunningfestival.com.au

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