Every city, once in a while, offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to its citizens. Brisbane offered that today. The Clem7 under river tunnel is just weeks away from opening to traffic so this morning we took the only chance we'll get to run the return journey of just over 10ks. It was a fun run to benefit the Royal Childrens' Hospital Working Wonders charity in Brisbane.
The event wasn't without its disappointments. The website promoted it as "approximately 10km long, and is an Athletics Australia Certified Accurate Course Distance". So, although it was accurately measured and certified, the actual distance wasn't published anywhere (that I could find anyway). Given that the race was 95% underground, it wasn't possible to track it personally via GPS technology.
I can live with that. I stopped and took photos along the way anyway, so actual time and distance weren't all that important.
What was more important, and became increasingly so as the race continued, was water. There were four aid stations set up and promoted for the event but by the time I got to the first one at 2k - there was no water left. The runners preceding me cleaned out the other water stations as well. OK, we were underground. It wasn't sunny, but the humidity down there was oppressive. It wasn't good enough. Before too long I found myself staring at those who'd had the foresight to bring their own hydration with nothing but unbridled envy.
The run had started at the Bowen Hills entrance and headed immediately down hill, for at least a kilometre. After that, there was an uphill before it seemed to level out a bit while we were actually passing under the river and the Gabba area.
Before too long - there was light at the end of the tunnel! We ran a small way in the sunshine before heading back down underground.
I decided I'd taken enough photos so for the return journey I concentrated on picking up the pace and maintaining it. I'm not sure whether I succeeded, but I did let myself really stride out on the downhills. Like other experiences in longer events, by this stage a lot of the people around me were walking so even when the uphill started again, I kept passing others.
Luckily, despite the extra exertion, I got to the finish line still feeling remarkably strong. It was a tough final kilometre - all uphill - and there were casualties. People had suffered without adequate supplies at the aid stations. I spotted a few getting medical attention in the final stretch to the line.
All I really wanted by this stage was water, but I happily accepted a commemorative finisher medal from the volunteers (although KKB walked straight past without realising that's what they were handing out).
Despite the serious shortcoming of the lack of hydration for the masses, I'm glad I experienced the Clem7 from a perspective I'll never be able to again.