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  • bron

Recap of the NSW road relays

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

In the last few years, I’ve been interested in entering some of the Athletics NSW relay events. I was super excited this year when my club had three teams in the ANSW State Road Relays in Ourimbah. I was running in the open women’s 4x4km team.

After parkrun in the morning, we drove up to the Central Coast for the race and got there in time to see the male 35+ team from my club have a great run and win their category. The women’s 45+ team was going in the same race as us, along with the 35+ women, all the male categories from 45+ up, and some solo runners. There were quite a few runners in the field, and it made for a good atmosphere with people hanging around cheering on their teammates as they came through the start area.

We entered and did a warm up run around the course to see where we would be going. I thought it was going to be flat, but there was a hill in the first kilometre. It wasn’t huge, but I was told we would feel it on the second lap.

We had a few discussions about our running order. We knew that the race was likely to spread out across the four legs, and the final runners would probably be running alone. We put our second fastest runner first, thinking she would benefit from running with other people. It worked well because it seemed like most other teams put their fastest runner first, which meant she had lots of speedy people to chase! Our two other runners are very similar pace, they were going second and third, I was running fourth.

The race started, and everyone was off quickly. As the runners came around after the first lap, I counted six girls in front of us. Aside from the first few runners, there wasn’t much time between everyone. I found out later that one of the girls ahead of us was running 4km solo and was only doing the first leg, meaning we were in sixth place. I told one of my teammates we should try to hold onto a top 8 spot. Her response was along the lines of, “no pressure Bron!”.

It was a bit weird having quite a bit of time from when the race started to when I was going to run, but I was enjoying spectating. The first few teams had a big lead when they came in for the first changeover with some super quick runners, but our first runner, Lauren, had a really strong leg – 14:55 for the 4km, and sixth place.

After our second runner started, I found Marty and he suggested that I run around to the back side of the course to cheer the runners on, so I ran around there for a bit more warm up. It got a bit confusing with the places during the second leg, the solo runners has finished, people were on different laps and I saw one team changeover from a guy to a girl! I thought we might have made up a place, but I wasn’t 100% sure.

While I was running around, I saw a couple of people I knew, and had a quick chat. A few people commented that it was nice to see Woodstock there, and I agree!

Our second runner, Khadija, crossed with another good split of 15:48, under 4min/km pace. I wasn’t totally sure what place we were in, I thought maybe sixth. But it was time to get focused. I went for my last nervous toilet stop. I’d been feeling good, but was probably also using a bit of energy running around and cheering people. I did a few run throughs and found Marty again. He told me we were in fourth. Somewhere along the line we had made up two spots! I asked him if I would be able to catch third, he said no. After a couple more run throughs, I went into the changeover area, it was almost time!

The first two teams went through with a huge lead, and when third approached, I had a quick look at the clock to see what time they came through. I could see our third runner, Gwen, approaching, and had another quick look at the clock. She ran through the finish for another strong split, 15:40, and I was off, telling Marty as I went that it was a 2 minute gap.

I didn’t think I had a chance to get us into a place, but I wanted to have a strong run and see if we could break 60 minutes. I was aiming for 14 minutes for my 4km, and started well with 3:25 for the first kilometre. The hill didn’t seem to take too much of a toll, though I was probably a bit excited. I slowed a little as I went back down towards the start area, but was happy to see a 3:29 split. As I approached Marty, he told me that third place only had about 40 seconds lead on me. I managed a response of “what”, perhaps in part not sure that I had heard right, and in part realising that meant I needed to keep pushing!

I started the second lap, and it turned out he was right, I could see third place with a few other runners a few hundred metres in front of me. I was starting to get tired as I went up the hill for the second time, so I was hoping I wouldn’t have a battle on my hands if I caught up. I slowed a bit going up the hill, with 3:38 for the third kilometre, but I had almost caught the group of runners ahead. I told myself to push hard to go past, then I’d only have about 800m to hold on down the hill to the finish. When I got to the last turnaround at the bottom, I saw that I had enough of a gap, and ran the last couple of hundred metres to the finish. We got third! Our overall time was 60:18, and my split was 13:55.

I couldn’t believe it when I crossed the finish, I was so excited that we got a place. Everyone ran really well to put us in the position to get there at the end, it was so much fun to be part of. The other Woodstock women’s team won their category, capping off a great day.

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