6 October 2015

Hamilton Half Marathon 2015

Disclaimer: In light of my brand new PB for the half marathon, the following race report may be somewhat biased and how could it not be – Fitness Action Charitable Trust and Direct Group Uniforms, you guys rock.

The checklist I’d written up the night before had, #1, be on the road at 6am. Having turned to check the ‘sticky’ garage door had fully closed behind me, I accelerated away. It was 6.40am. Not the best of starts. A traffic free run to the northern side of Hamilton city takes around 1 hour 30. With a 9am start there wasn’t a lot of wriggle room and I still had to find Flagstaff Park and pick up my race pack!

Rummaging through the typical DLE sized promo brochures I searched in vain for a ‘You’re a WINNER’ ticket. Apparently they do exist but I’ve never seen any. The energy bar however looked good and had a bit of weight to it. There were salty chips too and some mineral water. Bid number 19 is officially the lowest number I’ve had. A quick look back revealed my highest was 11689 in Fukuchiyama, Japan. I’m either getting faster or entering smaller events.

Would all competitors with numbers from 1-50 please make their way to the start line”. Locking down the shoe transponder underneath my infamous triple knot takes time. “Now calling 50-100 please”. And up I went. One cheeky local, lodged firmly in a deckchair that had seen better days scoffed at my tardiness before cracking open a soda. Harsh but fair I thought to myself. 

I’d planned to settle into a 4.12/k pace as early as possible. I was confident at being able to hold this through 14k and I looked forward to finishing strong over the last 3k. The key to having a good day was that period between 14-18k. The course on the outskirts of Hamilton city was absolutely beautiful. Roads that were gently winding, newly sealed and quiet with few logging trucks. That said, I hadn’t banked on the seemingly endless rolling hills that began at kilometer 14.

I don’t mind the hills. In fact I’d say they are now one of my strengths but trying to maintain that sub 4.14/k goal pace up and down, up and down takes some doing. Not knowing the course meant I really did start to panic as km after km I saw my hard earned 4.12/k pace fall away. At the 18k mark I’d slowed to 4.15 pace and now well outside a PB time. If only I could find some bloody rhythm! 

With Hamilton city suburbs all of a sudden in sight once again I found the gear I was looking for. Gone were the hills which were now replaced with a welcoming descent. Road gave way to a dusty trail and I all of a sudden felt like I was running on parts of my home track. Man what a course! I was literally flying! Splits of only 4.06, 4.10 and 4.04 to finish would suggest otherwise but why spoil it for me?

A new 31 second and 17 year PB. 1.29.14 and 19/351. 

In every age group the top 3 finishers were to be showered with prizes, rapturous applause and probably selfie requests. This was my day. My moment. I’d finally be able to post a picture of me shaking hands with key sponsors while accepting an envelope like all my other fellow bloggers seem to have done. Should I have prepared a speech? Should I run up to the podium or casually walk up with a swagger? This is it … this is it …

In the 45- 54 age group we have 1st, Chris Myland. 2nd, John Caie and in 3rd … Stefan Wagner”.

Buggar …. time to find a smaller race.

Look what turned up


  1. Congrats Mark and good story! Might I suggest the Bribie Island Fun Run? I placed 3rd outright in that once - took me around 10 years to find a small enough race ;-) I like how you dragged back the PB with that flying finish - great splits there. And a nice turn-up from the postie.

  2. I just couldn’t do that to you Ewen … push you out of the medals. Nice thought though. Guess I might have to work a little harder and perhaps eat a little less. One day …

  3. Great post Mark and well done on the PB! I couldn't agree more, a well organized event and great running conditions. That was the last year on that course too, it will change in 2016. I came 4th in my age group - missed out by seconds - I'm finding I learn so much more each race I run. The continuous pursuit of improvement!

  4. I just checked ... you missed by 10 seconds! I don’t feel so bad now. I'd have demanded a drug test on the girl ahead of you. Your time was superb. Man you've made some gains recently. I'll be looking over my shoulder in Rotorua for sure. We have a great course but not quite a PB one.

  5. Great to get a PB Mark! They are as rare as hen's teeth! And in a course like that. You'll be able to break that again when you come back to Japan and race on one of our flat and fast courses. Well done old son.

    1. Thanks mate. I have fond memories of running the Osaka City Half which felt flat and fast. Finished in a football/athletics stadium. Can't remember the name of it. I'll never forget coming down the home stretch and looking up to see myself on the big screen thinking ... I really do have to work on my bloody awful form! Still a work in progress ...