The 10km of My First Bridge to Brisbane
FULL DISCLAIMER: I am not a runner. Never have been, and probably never will be. In my opinion, ‘fun’ and ‘run’ should never be in the same sentence. I am still not sure what induced me to sign up for the Bridge to Brisbane, all I know is that I mentioned it to someone once, as something I’d vaguely like to do at some point (as in the hypothetical I’d like to do this ‘someday’ and then that ‘someday’ never arrives), and then instead of politely expressing their wish to also do it with me ‘someday’, this person took the opportunity to sign up themselves, saying they’d come and support me!
Note to self: *when mentioning the hypothetical ‘someday’ goals, do it to someone who is equally as lazy as yourself.*
So I found myself practically blackmailed into something that was technically my own idea!
Fast forward to 26 August 2018: it’s a wet and miserable morning, yet everywhere I look there are people of all age demographics and from all walks of life… Nearly 30,000 of them! At this point, I can’t understand the look of excited anticipation I see around me – “don’t you know you’re about to run 10km!” I want to yell at them. Surely that would wipe the smile of their faces. Then they’d look more like how I’m feeling; nervous and mildly terrified.
As the clock slowly ticks down to my starting time, the strangest thing begins to happen – I’m beginning to feel excited. It’s like I’ve caught a mild case of ‘running fever’ that a few of my friends have succumbed to in the past.
I don’t mind that it’s cold or rainy and somehow the prospect of running 10km seems less daunting. But before I have time to fully comprehend this alarming change of sentiment, an announcement comes over the loud speaker. It’s go time.
1st Km: I join the throng of people gently surging towards the starting line, take a deep breath, and plunge forwards down the hill. Literally six steps in, everything hurts. My knees, ankles, calves, shins and I immediately start puffing – loudly. Some little guy with dark hair and a fabulous red raincoat comes flying past me, using the running technique that can only be described as frantic. I recognise it well, it’s the one I usually employ when I am running late for an appointment or am busting for the bathroom. This is going to be a long morning.
2nd Km: Okay, legs are warming up, the sharp pains are reducing to a dull ache, rate of puffing has only marginally increased. Maybe I can do this. I wonder how Frantic Red Raincoat is doing?!
3rd Km: Made it over the Go-Between Bridge to a beautiful acoustic cover of Vance Joy’s Riptide. There is something incredibly satisfying about running on the streets that I have driven on for the past 17 years, seeing them devoid of road rage and instead filled with community spirit. I’m feeling pretty good about myself at this point, on the verge of smiling even, something I never do while running. Suddenly Frantic Red Raincoat tears past me again. I am more than a bit confused.
4th Km: Things have gone from average to bad, all within the space of one kilometre. The muscles in my legs feel like they are slowly solidifying and my breathing is now so loud that the people in front of me shoot back anxious glances to make sure that a paramedic is not necessary. I’m not even half way yet.
5th Km: I’m now keeping an eye out for Frantic Red Raincoat… does he enjoy sprinting past the same people just to freak them out? Anyway, focus Cate. As I begin running through the city, a pair of seedy, dishevelled looking guys appear – clearly on their way home from a night out. They look thoroughly perplexed as to why this mass of humans surging through the city streets would voluntarily do this to themselves on a Sunday morning. I have to say, that as I look at them from the moral high ground with a red, sweaty face and sore legs, I can kind of see their point.
6th Km: As I wind out of the tunnel and onto the Story Bridge, my favourite Brisbane landmark, I barely notice, my field of vision has been reduced to looking at the ground two steps ahead of me. I’m brought out of this haze of self-pity by a fellow runner exclaiming how beautiful the city looks. As I raise my eyes to catch a quick glimpse of the city, who should come barreling past me AGAIN but Frantic Red Raincoat! I can’t believe it! I give a half-second thought to chasing after him and demanding an explanation, when he weaves between two people, dodges around the fittest 60 year old I’ve ever seen and disappears again.
7th Km: The signs telling you how far you’ve run seem to be mocking me, I cannot bear to look at them, and at this stage, my only thought is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Little kids are beginning to overtake me. Have they been running the whole way? Or is this some new motivational tactic by the event organisers? Surely you can’t have that much energy after 7km.
8th Km: For the first time I begin to think that I might actually be able to do this. The end is nigh! There are people lining the cliffs on top of Kangaroo Point cheering, I like this motivational tactic much more than the super energetic kids. Feeling thoroughly energised and encouraged, I coax the two pillars of cement that are pretending to be my legs to keep going for just a bit longer.
9th Km: Bagpipes signal that the battle is almost over. Braveheart. That’s my first thought. I can see Mel Gibson with his face painted blue, sword held aloft. Now is the time to fight, now is the time to dig deep, now is the time to – wait! That’s not Frantic Red Raincoat again is it? Great Scott it is! How? Why? Where does he go in between mad dashes around people? So it is with this conundrum that I enter the final stretch. It’s much less inspirational than “They may take our lives, but they can never take our freedom!”
10th Km: As I cross the line, I see the emotions I am feeling reflected in the faces of the runners around me. Exhaustion, pain but above all, pride. I see it in mothers, in daughters, fathers, grandfathers, short people, tall people, people with brown eyes, blue eyes, red hair, brown hair, young, old. Across every identifying stereotype that society uses to separate us, there is the same expression, the same feelings, the same emotions. And in that moment I understand. I understand the power of coming together with a common goal.
Some people walked, some wheeled, some shuffled, some ran, some in maddeningly, confusing, frantic dashes. But in the end, we all had the same goal in mind, we were moving in the same direction, and I felt inexplicably connected to every single person wearing a Bridge to Brisbane bib. Community events like this have the unique ability to unite a group of people who may never fully agree on anything else in life. And even if it is only for 10km; a long, painful 10km, I think that is a beautiful thing. I’d even go so far as to call it fun. I’d still like to track down Frantic Red Raincoat though.