Marathon, the seductive mistress of running

The Melbourne Marathon festival of running took place on Sunday 9 October 2011 and I was a more than an interested observer knowing a few runners Mark and I have worked with throughout the year were lining up over the 10k, half marathon and the longer 42.195km race. The Melbourne Marathon can turn on all variants of our city’s famous fickle weather and Sunday was no exception, cool, windy and sometimes rainy conditions greeted thousands of runners as they toed the line in their respective events.

I elected to check-out the 10km road race first, a mixture of performance, passion and participation summed up the event with a great mix of elite speed machines, just above walking pace competitors, as well as everyone running and jogging in between. After spending most of the past few years observing and writing about running form, it’s fair to say that there were many different examples of running technique out there on display. Hats off to everyone who braved the cold weather and came out and ran no matter what their motivation or goal. It was great to see the moving train of runners winding their way around Melbourne’s iconic Botantic Gardens alongside everyone’s favorite running destination the 3.8km Tan Track.

At these types of events I always try and take my camera to capture examples of good running technique and once such example that stood out on the day was the strong running form of local athlete Amanda Paulin competing in the 10k. Amanda is a middle distance specialist, which is perhaps why she’s making running in a longer event look like an easy jog!

37 Kilometers

I’d missed out on the early stages of the marathon, but was keen to see how the runners were faring late in the race, the 37km mark was positioned on a testing climb alongside the botanical gardens and Melbourne’s famous 3.8km Tan running track. They were idyllic surroundings, not that you would notice if you were running and hauling your way inside the final 5km of a Marathon. The leaders looked epic and strong, what you’d expect from talented and hardworking runners, but it still gives you the chills when you see top level running at close range. Kenya’s Japhet Kipkorir emerged out of the gloom flanked by Melbourne’s finest constabulary on his way to defending his title and producing 2.11.12 in less than ideal conditions. He looked like he was running a 5k rather than the full Marathon distance.

Out of the gloom, Japhet Kipkorir making short work of the climb

Kenya’s Japhet Kipkorir – strength late in the race

Has this guy already run 37km? Kenya’s Japhet Kipkorir – running tall and with great strength.

Julius Karinga showing signs of hurt but hanging on bravely to second place

Peter Nowill refueling and looking strong on his way to third place

Wondwosen Geleta shows determination on the climb

Commonwealth Games Marathon Silver Medalist Kenya’s Irene Mogaka on her way to victory

Quad killer

It seems a bit of a cruel end to the course to have to climb and then descent late in the race, I could only imagine the quads would have hurt some on this decline heading towards 38km.

The 20 minute personal best

A special mention to Jonathan Cahill who after staring in an earlier article about Orthotics and Nike Frees wiped a massive 20 minutes off his Marathon personal best to record an impressive 3.08 marathon wearing a pair of Adidas Adios marathon racers. No orthotics! The fact that he did this off three runs a week and his triathlon training suggests there is more than one way (in addition to high mileage) to run well over the marathon distance. Here’s Jonathan looking the goods with only about two miles to run.

The people’s four minute mile

Probably the most gut wrenching thing I saw while on course was runners beginning to drop off the three hour pacers, I guess because that’s a time I’d ultimately like to run and that many keen runners aspire to. I could feel their pain as that goal began slipping away. The pacers do an awesome job when you think about it, even if running their respective speeds is well within their ability, they also have to carry the flag and shout encouragement!

The seductive mistress

After swearing I wouldn’t have a crack at it again for a few more years after abandoning my buildup to the Paris Marathon a couple of years back when my brother developed a stress fracture and I was knocked off my game after initially failing a medical for the event. Having to stop running and wait three weeks to endure various tests to get the all clear wasn’t the ideal build up. So the closest I came to breaking my goal of running under the three hour mark was breaking the cardiac stress testing protocol on the Epworth Hospital treadmill!

But the Marathon is a seductive mistress and watching the raw courage and determination of runners competing in the race had me looking for a place to sign up for the 2012 event! Perhaps only other runners will truly understand the emotional involvement you develop when you’re watching an event like the Marathon unfold. By the time I packed up and headed for home I was churning on the inside and pumped full of admiration for the runners I’d watched out there on the course.

Well done to every runner out there who overcame their own struggles and adversities just to get to the start line and then to grit it out over 42.195 kilometers is an awesome effort. I may see you next year.

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Complete race results

4 Responses to Marathon, the seductive mistress of running

  1. rohan September 10, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

    Ha, how funny…had stumbled across another interesting article of yours Brian as I often do, and wouldn’t you know it but I’m in your video with your mate Jonathon. Finishing in a similar time myself of 3:07:40 that year for my first attempt, I’m now preparing for another tilt, this time at that elusive sub 3hr mark. Which obviously begs the question to you, have you had a crack at it yourself yet?

    • Brian September 11, 2013 at 6:53 am #

      Thanks Rohan, good job! No I’ve not run the marathon yet, not a high priority for me at the moment.

  2. Netasha October 15, 2011 at 10:27 am #


    Great article. Whilst I only did the 10kthis year, I too left feeling the niggling desire to give the marathon a crack!! it’d be nice to run like the Kenyans but alas even with your help on technique I’d require a rocket jet pack to get anywhere near them. My aim will be just to finish and cross it off my ‘bucket list’.

    Keep the articles coming!!!

    • Brian October 15, 2011 at 10:43 am #

      Hi Netasha, Thanks for the feedback, yes it’s great to watch the really top runners for a bit of inspiration, but like you I need to keep it in perspective! Brian