There is a somewhat sadistic pleasure that comes from lining up for a running event in Brisbane’s heat and humidity. I’m far from alone with this pleasure; year after year, I stand surrounded by thousands of other hard core ‘Twihards’ ready to take on one of the myriad of events offered at Intraining’s annual Twilight Run.
Last year marked my fifth Twilight event and I was injury free and ready! I had chosen to run the half marathon, however the event offers a plethora of events from the kids’ 1km dash, 5km, 10km or 21.1km.
At the start line I go through my usual ritual of discerning who my competition is and trying not to smile like a Cheshire cat when I notice that a few speed demons are donning a 10km bib, and conversely trying to act all nonchalant about those completely out of league in the half marathon bibs. The usual “I’m not sure I’m race fit” and “I’ll just see how I go today” and “I had the wrong kind of lunch” sprout like firecrackers from all within ears reach. It’s all part of the comedic jitter that amounts to start-line antics.
I had just watched my 8-year-old daughter, Arabella, finish the kids’ 1km dash in a cracking time of 4:01. I was on a ‘mother’s high’. This is good – additional happy endorphins to fuel my race ahead! Now Arabella was set for the next 90 minutes with the well-catered kids’ activities that sprawled the University of Queensland athletics field.
It didn’t matter that the sky was turning from a shimmering blue to an ominous shade of grey. Ok, a thunderous shade of grey. It would pass.
But the weather gods had their own agenda and the clouds opened up on us just before the start gun was to blast. All the lithe athletes suddenly transformed into drowned rats; some embracing the refreshing downpour, some looking apprehensive about how this may affect their race. I was happy! My body temperature dropped and the worry of dehydration and sluggish legs melted in the rain. Sluggish shoes seemed far more appealing!
The rain was heavy, there was no denying, and thoughts of two years prior when the weather had turned even more suddenly mid-race and the race was cancelled in the midst of a terrifying storm were unavoidable. However, at this stage it was just heavy rain and I was soaking it up, literally.
What impressed me the most were the cheer squads at each water station, made up of dedicated volunteers, lifting their singing voices all the higher to encourage us on – rain was no obstacle, and they were going to ensure that they delivered on the fantastic atmosphere this event is famous for.
I don’t think I have ever smiled so much in a race. I felt like a big kid sploshing through puddles and drinking in the pegs of water that fell into my mouth.
The half marathon course is a two-lap route that starts at the University of Queensland and meanders along the Brisbane River, loops over the Green Bridge, along T J Doyle Memorial Park Drive before returning back to the start to repeat lap two. It really is a glorious run and every event gets the river highlights.
When we approached the return to the Green Bridge on our first lap, the rain had really set in and the water was rising above ankle level and the asphalt was difficult to see as dusk rapidly encroached upon us. As much as it wasn’t bothering me, I knew the conditions were becoming dangerous and that there was every probability the event might have to be cancelled.
No sooner had the thought entered my head, bike riders flagged all half marathoners to take the 10km finish at the end of their first lap. Was I disappointed? Perhaps for about 60 seconds, and then when my egotistical desire to complete what a good race time disappeared, I was not disappointed at all. In fact, I was impressed by how efficiently the Intraining crew got hundreds of participants safely to the finish and still gave us our moment of glory as we sprinted to the finish line.
The panic to get home may have been rife, but the event atmosphere was still present and there were smiles all around. We were safe and the running season was underway. I know I’ll be back to do it all again next year, along with all the other ‘Twihards’ in tow.
Who will be my competition? I wonder to myself already…
Words by Solveig (aka, Solly) Litchfield, Runner and mother to Arabella
2016 Twilight Running Festival
Sunday 20 March 2016 | 4pm
21.1km/10km/5km/1km Kids Run
University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane
Click HERE for more details