Corporate Challenge, Runaway Bay Race Report

Sunday 17 March Race 2, Corporate Challenge
by Caroline

Last Sunday saw a team of Byron Bay Runners compete at Runaway Bay, Qld. This is a quality event in the road running calendar, attracting elite athletes such as Clare Geraghty and Jackson Elliott, as well as our own bright stars – Alex, Amy, Hunter, Jas, Jo, Milla, Peta and secret weapon/foreign import, Sarah (from Winchester, UK). Feeling excited, nervous and very slightly clammy (it was already 28 degrees by 6.30am), Jo and Alex were the first to step up to the plate in the 5k race.

As the siren sounded, near on 200 runners surged onto the course, running hard to get a good position going in to the first bend.  Runners then wound their way through residential streets, with the field slowly stretching out. After a much-needed water station at 2.5km, runners continued along the outside of the sports centre, turning then to run the final kilometres home along the bike criterion track, and into the stadium. As runners round the corner and step onto the tartan track, they can see just how close they are to home and spectacular sprint finishes are often seen off the final bend into the finish.

Having not been able to see much of what was going on during the race, imagine Byron Bay Runners excitement after the first few front runners came in, when we realised the second female runner to enter the stadium (behind nationally ranked runner Jaquie Soden) was our very own Alex. Looking strong all the way to the end, Alex produced a phenomenal run to finish second female overall, age group winner and a whopping 50-something second PB (in the 18-minute somethings!) – enough to give us all something to celebrate!  We then cheered the rest of the 5k’ers home, including Jo, who also achieved a very commendable category 6th place.

Next up were the 8k contenders – Hunter, Jas, Peta, Sarah & myself edged ourselves into the starting line-up.  At the siren, the race was led out by an elite wheel-chair athlete who set a blistering pace, closely followed by the elite runners (including former Gold Coast Marathon medallist Helen Stanton) with the rest of us following on. Personally, I had been uncertain before what tactic to use on such an unconventional distance (5k pace and fade, or 10k pace and surge?). So having not really thought it through, I ended up being all over the place – with the first couple of kms on a 5k PB pace, and then a dramatic fade going into the third kilometre, which got progressively worse. Feeling the heat, I gulped some water at 3km and emptied the rest of it over my head, in vain attempt to stop the boiling sensation in my brain. But today was not my day, and I felt like I was running backwards as more and more people began to overtake me. By the fourth kilometre, I was just surviving, and wondering why had I bothered to get out of bed that morning to put myself through this torture?! As I clung on, and willed my legs to move for the last few kilometres, I felt a spark of energy as I recognised someone up-ahead who was also in my age category. Having been beaten by this lady by two seconds in a 10k end of last season, I had a score to settle. Edging quietly up behind (well , as quietly as you can when you’re making sounds like an asthmatic rhino with hayfever) I decided to make my break under-cover of two burly looking chaps who were also moving up on her inside. It worked, and by the 150m mark I was clear and running scared. Running into the finishing chute and stepping across the blue mat I was almost delirious with relief at the thought I could stop running!

I was met on the finishing line by Amy, who’d come to give me a congratulatory hug, but couldn’t (and I quote) because ‘eergh, you’re SO sweaty Mum’. So wobbling over to the water and oranges, I rejoined the other Byron runners, who’d also survived the course.

The final event of the day for the Byron gang, was for the most junior of our runners – Milla and Amy in the U7’s 500m. Having discussed key race tactics on the start line (‘let’s beat the boys, and don’t stop if your hat falls off’), they sprinted off like maniacs, although soon found a steady pace to complete the lap, both showing an impressive sprint finish.

Overall, it was a hot and steamy morning, with some great successes and some not-so-successful runs. Everything was redeemed though by the sight of the $10 buffet breakfast ($5 for kids), and the results announced at the presentations : medals in every event for Byron Bay Runners, thanks to  Alex, Hunter, Amy and Sarah.

Well done everyone! Guaranteed to be cooler conditions next month : Next race 21 April (10k and 5k).

5k : Alex : 2nd female overall, age category winner, Jo: 6th in category
8k : Hunter : 2nd in category, Sarah : 2nd in category, Caroline: 4th in category, Jas : 6th in category, Peta : 24th in category
500m (U7s) : Amy : 2nd female overall; Milla : 11th in category