Saturday, 16 May 2009

Good News Week

Posted by speedygeoff on Saturday, May 16, 2009 with 6 comments
One week in May … An interview for the Canberra Times ... A photo shoot for the Canberra Times ... An article in today's Canberra Times ... A live interview on ABC 666 Canberra with Tim and Bronwyn this morning, and it was good to be in the studio for the interview ... An introduction to the runners before the start of tomorrow morning's half marathon race ... it's all happening, all because I am the only runner from the Cross Country Club’s first Canberra Half Marathon 39 years ago who has entered in the 40th running of the event.

There were only 24 runners in the 1970 half marathon, and I finished 19th. I was a specialist 800m runner who in the winter of 1970 got into the habit of running the Saturday afternoon cross country races, but wasn't exactly ready for a race of such distance or duration as a 21k event. That day in September 1970 the only race on offer was the half marathon, so I ran it. I remember running along the Northern side of Lake Burley Griffin with a few kms to go thinking it was a very long, long way.

The time was 85 minutes; much slower than I ran in subsequent years after I began marathon training; much faster than I can run now. The winner, Julian Scott, snuck under 70 minutes, a good time in those days. Dave McInnes ran third, and other runners in the field included Graeme Small and Alan Wilson who are still running shorter events to this day.

1970 preceded the running boom. Fun Runs had not yet been invented, and at lunchtimes in Canberra there were no runners at all running around Lake Burley Griffin. How different it is now!

There were however a few of us who met regularly at Stromlo Forest on weekends for a long-ish run. I don't know what attracted me there; possibly the simple reason that someone invited me, so I went there and ran most weekends.

The five or six athletic clubs in Canberra at the time were predominantly for people who trained for and competed in track competition. A handful of distance runners from those clubs were the ones who met for winter competition. In those days track was the mainstream sport, while people who preferred distance, road, trail, or cross country were thought of as somewhat eccentric. Nowadays I think it is the other way round; jogging and distance running and its sister sports like trail running, mountain running, orienteering, triathlon are mainstream, and those who perform exclusively on the track are now looked on as the odd ones out.

People did not stay in athletics for very long either, and athletics was seen as a young people’s sport. Until the advent of Masters and Veterans athletics, people were not encouraged to remain in the sport; if one were not improving, or if one were no longer in contention for Olympic glory, one retired.

However during the 1970's with the introduction of Fun Runs and Masters sports, athletics became accessible to everyone and became a lifestyle option. This was a complete turn-around in attitude.

Everything changed in the 1970’s. We grew up and things will never be the same again. I wonder what is changing now? Hindsight is easy; and analysing the present is not so easy; but seeing into the future is virtually impossible. I wonder what changes are around the corner?

Another great birthday card...

... look out. The future's coming fast.


  1. Good on you Geoff! I wish I had tuned into 666 this morning! Good luck tomorrow.

  2. thanks Andrea :)
    take your time getting back into marathons! there are many years ahead.

  3. Tim's a good interviewer and I know Bronwyn...shame I missed the interview...

    Good luck tomorrow!

  4. Good luck tomorrow Geoff.

  5. I bet you forget that you are a legend, and it takes this sort of attention to remind you!

  6. He's only a legend in his own lunchtime Scott :)