Hippy Brad Does Sydney

HB’s Sydney Marathon Race Recap

Happy birthday to me, Happy birthday to me, Happy birthday dear Braaaaaaaaaaa-aaaaddddd, Happy birthday to me…

Yes there is online evidence that I did indeed sing Happy Birthday to myself as I crossed the finish line on the Sydney Marathon. I had a truly amazing day on Sunday 21st September and ran my first ever official marathon.

Time: 3:32

The day started with a pre 5am wake up. I thought I’d do some stretching and then figured why start introducing a new regime this late in the programme. I ate two bananas, some breakfast bickies and a quarter of a cup of coffee. We are dressed and out the door at 6.15am and heading to the train station for a three minute train ride to the starting line.

My Gear

In my belt (sorry the belt I stole from Sarah) I carried four little baggies of supplements and pharmaceuticals, four Chocolate Peanut butter Gu’s and two small water bottles. I also had my phone and some cashola.
On my body I was wearing a Craft tank top, Craft shorts, Skins compression shorts, Injinji toe socks and Hoka One One Conquests.
Under my clothes I taped up my nip nips with some Fixomull tape and the balls of my feet with some Rock Tape. On my two middle toes that were still damaged from the previous Sunday’s 30km run I used some thick band-aids.
My technology for the day was my trusty Garmin, but I turned off the fast and slow pace alerts that I had been using to train myself to run slower to avoid the ITB flare ups.
My little baggies contained various mixes of caffeine tablets, Energy Bits (algae), ibuprofen and paracetamol. Each had a purpose. After suffering from an ITB on the left leg for two months I had been experimenting with getting the dose of ibuprofen and paracetamol right on a run to keep the inflammation and pain to a dull roar. The caffeine tabs were simply for a little boost which after having gone caffeine free for the previous seven days, my body was more than happy to accept. The Energy bits are these stinky little compressed algae pills that stop me feeling hungry and don’t appear to do me any harm in adding a little more energy. 
Sydney marathon, marathon, marathon training, running, boston qualifier, first marathon, race recap

Moving and Fueling
Standing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge I was feeling really good. I’d had no sign of the ITB for a week however I’d woken up with a razor blade throat and a runny nose. I thank daycare for so many things or maybe it was the lady with suspected tuberculosis sitting behind us on the plane from Darwin? The temperature was in the low teens and there was this misty rain that just added to the feeling that this run was going to be so different to anything I had ever experienced in terms of size, location and atmosphere.
Sydney marathon, marathon, marathon training, running, boston qualifier, first marathon, race recap
The SHB Is An Awesome Icon
With 10 minutes to go I kissed Sarah good luck and headed to the “A” pen and shuffled into the middle of pack. In front I could see the 3.30 pacers and figured that this was as a good place as any to be. It took a minute after the gun went off to cross the starting line, the drizzle continued and air remained cool as we headed under and then onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The first two kilometres were crowded and whilst everyone was polite I was shit scared of tripping over someone or tripping someone else over. 
I ran the first two kilometres at my training pace as planned and I was very happy. 

Then something happened whilst on the Bridge, the crowds spread out and it was free running. My planned play book went out the window and I started running to find a pace that challenged me. I was soon in front of the 3.30 pacers and ran a sub 4min fourth kilometre.

Oops, silly boy that will hurt later.

For the next 6 kilometres I was having a total blast, talking to people, joking, waving at the cameras and wondering if a sub 3 hour time was possible. Very silly boy I kept saying to myself as I ran past the 3.15 pacer heading up Macquarie Street. And then we hit the wonderful Domain Precinct and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. The view is glorious and the pace feels amazing and I can’t stop myself running constant sub 4.30 kilometres.

Where is the pain? Why is this so much fun? Why is that guy in front breathing so hard? Maybe I should stop chatting and singing? Am I annoying people?

Sydney marathon, marathon, marathon training, running, boston qualifier, first marathon, race recap
Australia 1, Bad Hair Korean 2
And then on we go and end up in Hyde Park and running up Oxford Street. The numbers of people have seriously thinned out now and I’m shocked to see a pub rocking it out at 830am. On to the SCG and eventually into Centennial Park. As I run into Centennial Park I see for the first time the male race leaders coming the other way and I can’t help but clap and cheer for them in their tight pack. A few kilometres on and the female race leaders appear. More cheers and clapping but it is clear which of them is going to win. In the park I hit the half-way point of the marathon and couldn’t believe it but my HM time was only four minutes slower than my fastest Half Marathon race.

Oops again…that wasn’t the plan.

Sydney marathon, marathon, marathon training, running, boston qualifier, first marathon, race recap
The Last Person I Overtook…

Reality struck at the 27th kilometre. 

I was feeling muscle fatigue for the first time and started to slow down dramatically. I had my first calf cramp happen at this time and these spasms continued for the remainder of the run, usually proceeded by me shouting “oh fuck”. Soon enough the 3.15 pacers had caught up and I struggled to stay with them as we headed back towards Circular Quay. Mentally I was in an angry place now, I could not believe how cruel the organisers had been to make us literally run past the finish line when there was still another 10 kilometres left. They call it the wall and I have never experienced it before. It wasn’t a physical sensation like being ill, it was a mental dismantling of my ego and I was unable for most of the last ten kilometres to regain the happiness that I had felt for the first half of the run.

I tracked a group of four runners as we headed along the Western Distributor Freeway and we continued to leap frog each other, them as a group and me alone. I listened intently to their conversation when one of them turned to me and said “you are doing well, I only joined at the 26km mark”. What the fuck?? These folks were pacing for their friend, feeding, encouraging and moving her along. I was sort of angry and then sort of confused about why someone would pay for a marathon only to run less than half of it. 
I was now in struggle town.

I was seeing more and more people who had been in front of me in the 3hour group dropping into walks and hobbles but at the same time I hit the lows of embarrassment as a speed walker overtook me. I was down to averaging 6.05 kilometres, some 90 seconds a click slower than the first half. Ouch I want this to be over. Another person from the early 3.30 crowd went by and another.

My brain was now recalculating and analysing the energy I wasted going out hard so early. Silly boy.

Heading back to Circular Quay for the last 2km’s was like an exercise in collecting stray dogs. Running past runners who were hobbling and walking and encouraging them to bring it home and others doing the same to me. Hearing the crowds of people was amazing and then seeing Rob De Castella standing at the finish line was a total buzz. I was finally starting to enjoy myself again for the first time in an hour and so I decided for the last 50 metres to sing Happy Birthday to myself. 41 years old and a 3.32 marathon.

My highest placing during the course of the race was 177 (first 21km) and my eventual place was 508th overall, 454th Male and 77th 40-44 year old.

Apparently this is fast enough to qualify in my age group for Boston.


  • Crowd atmosphere, 
  • Weather, 
  • Sydney scenery, 
  • Completing an official marathon, 
  • Ho ITB flare up, 
  • hugging Sarah after she finished, 
  • Having a memorable birthday.


  • Letting my ego rather than science dictate the run.
  • Two months of ITB issues that stopped me building up to the capacity I had planned to have. 
  • And stupidly being disappointed with my time despite it being a PB for the distance by 15 minutes.
Sydney marathon, marathon, marathon training, running, boston qualifier, first marathon, race recap

She’s My Awesome Inspiration

If you want a quick laugh, follow this link, insert my bib number 10092 and sing Happy Birthday with me after 42.195 wonderful kilometres.  

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