#8 – the uneventful marathon: race report

With the last minute decision to change of course, marathon number 8 was set to explore the familiar bike paths and trails close to where I live. Not only that but, with only my wife set to run the last few kilometers with me, it was going to be a solitary marathon.

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The course: for details of the run check the Garmin activity.

I put my earphones, turned up the volume, and under a grey sky I started my run. After 11 km of bike paths and the view of construction sites of yet another neighbourhood in Canberra, I finally reached the trails of Mulligans Flat. I tried to maximise my time there to enjoy the dirt track and to increase my chances of seeing kangaroos. I’ve been living here for 10 years and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of them.

For the first few kilometers not much happened and the view was like this:

It didn’t take long for me to spot some kangaroos at quite a distance from the main track. But as I moved away from the main entrance and towards the inner part of the reserve, they became closer and closer. This wallaby remained still until I slowed down and turned on the camera. Even after that the little fella didn’t really move that much…

That made my day. The run continued pretty much the same for quite a while: dirt track, gum trees, and kangaroos. Typical Canberra outdoor scene. Lovely to share the trails with these guys (warning: when watching the video below you may get sick with the motion of the camera)

That was it for Mulligans Flat. After that I was back to the bike path, went down from Forde to Yerrabi Pond, and with just over 30km I was very close to home. I took my mobile and called Marcele to ask how many km she would like to run with me. The answer was zero. She wasn’t feeling well, so from that point on it was officially a solo marathon. Still 12 km to go, so close to home yet so far away…

I spent the rest of the marathon with my mind focused on calculating distances and planning a route that would take me home with no less than 42.195 kilometers but also not much further than that. Thanks to my local knowledge I covered 42,92 km, just over the official distance, in 3:47:50.

The uneventful marathon was followed by an equally ordinary period of donations (or lack of). Since then, I picked up my game and reached over $3600 in donations! Thank you all for helping! Marathon 9 is only 3 days away (yes I was pretty late with this race report).


Promoting the cause!


Marathon 8: race preview

It has been very hard to get back on track after my big race in December. I’ve been feeling a bit lethargic after the long triathlon and the well deserve rest planned for the Christmas break has been somewhat extended to my January holidays. Not that I haven’t been exercising at all, but I can’t call “training” what I’ve been doing. There is not much structure nor consistency. It is easier to have a routine when you’re working: early morning training, after work swim, lunch time run… all that is gone. I’ve been waking up later and the heat doesn’t help with lunch or afternoon runs. Tell me about getting off the hammock, where I’ve been lying down and reading, to drive to the pool for a swim session. It is hard!

Despite the laziness, I’ve managed to go for a few runs to be prepared for my January marathon. My body can tell that I’ve been on holidays and I’m predicting a slow 42.2 km this time. Anyway, regardless of my speed I needed to come up with a date and a course for the fundraising marathon number 8. It is going to be this weekend and in Canberra again. I wanted something different from the hills that I have explored in marathons 2, 4 and 6 so I decided to go south and run along the Murrumbidgee river, following the Murrumbidgee Discovery Track.

The plan is to start at Casuarina Sands, run south to Pine Island North and then come back, running just over 43km. Pine Island will also make a good “aid station” at the halfway mark as there is toilets and drinking water available there. You can access the official brochure of the Murrumbidgee corridor here, where there is a map of the region. I also created a running map following the Discovery track:

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Planned route. You can check the details in the Mapmyrun link.

Yesterday I drove to Casuarina Sands for a 10 km run to check the course. I only explored the first 5 km of the track but was happy with what I saw. It is mostly a dirt track with quite a few steep but very short climbs and a few slippery descents that will require some focus but will also make the run more interesting. As a bonus, there are many spots with great views of the river and also places with direct access to the Murrumbidgee where I could refresh myself in case the day is too hot.


Triple Edge endurance triathlon and marathon 7: race report

Two weeks have passed, the post-race high has been replaced by the Christmas sugary high, and I have finally found the time to write the race report for marathon 7. As explained in a previous post, this marathon would be completed by adding up a few extra kilometers to the run leg of the Triple Edge Endurance Triathlon with a total of 4 km swim, 120km on the bike and 30 (+12)km running.

Race preparation – the gear:

After my all-pink marathon, I thought I would give a go with the Can Too colour and run an all-orange triathlon/marathon. The Can Too people loved the idea and sent me their awesome bright orange Tri top. For the shorts I had to compromise and ended up buying a black one with details in orange. Socks were easy and the only remaining item was an orange pair of running shoes. I contact Emily, a friend from the Bilbys Triathlon Club that works at The Runners Shop,  and she gave me a few options. In normal circumstances, colour would be the least important attribute in a pair of running shoes but this time was different. Luckily, Emily brought me a pair that was not only bright orange, but also comfortable. I was dressed to race!

Race day:

After a couple of months questioning my decision to add 12 km to such a long event, came race day and I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be. I got there early, checked-in my bike at the transition, and set two separate groups of food on my towel: one for the first transition (T1) and the bike, and another for T2 and the run. I put on my wetsuit and as I was walking to the start line, Craig Johns, executive director of Triathlon ACT and race commentator on the day, grabbed me to say a few words. An article about my marathons had appeared a couple of days before the race in the Canberra Times and Craig was kind enough to give me yet another chance to promote the fundraising.


Talking to Craig Johns from Triathlon ACT before the race

The swim

Despite the usual mess of an open water start, I quickly found a comfortable place to swim without having to fight against other arms and legs. The conditions were perfect with a calm lake and a sunny day. It was easy to navigate towards Captain James Cook memorial in the first kilometer but heading east on the way back was much harder with the sun blinding the swimmers. I followed the instructions to use the Australian-American Memorial or the “eagle on the stick” as a guide and it was spot on: second buoy found and on with the second lap.


Paying attention to the race briefing. Photo courtesy of Scottie T Photography *.

I don’t know exactly how, but I completely forgot about the rest of the race and I found myself enjoying those 4 km of lake swim as if they were the only physical activity that I would be doing that day. I swam solid 4 km, not too hard but not holding back either, and left the water in 1:05:46 (my Garmin watch time).


The start.


Getting around one of the buoys. Photo courtesy of Scottie T Photography*.

The bike

I ran to the transition taking off the upper part of my wetsuit. After removing the rest of my swim gear, I uncovered the first pile of food grabbing two slices of bread folded in half and wrapped in aluminum foil and putting them in the back pocket of my Tri top. I took my time and drank a box of Up&Go (chocolate milk) before putting on my helmet and sunglasses. In my training I would ride from work to the pool and then back home. Tired after the swim session,  I would drink chocolate milk before my ride home. It worked quite well in training, so I decided to include that in my race nutrition strategy.

I started the ride and, once again, managed to forget about the rest of the race. Ignoring the marathon that was about to happen, I focused only on the task of riding 120km. The ride was mostly flat along Parkes Way but had a tricky climb going from Glenoch Interchange to Gungahlin Drive. I used the descent from Belconnen Way to the turning point as my nutrition segment: a slice of bread with vegemite in lap 1, bread with Paçoquinha spread (a kind of Brazilian peanut butter) in lap 2, and energy bar in laps 3 and 4. In some laps this was complemented by energy gels as well. I don’t really know how many I consumed during the ride, not more than one per lap for sure.

My official splits for each lap were 54:07, 55:25, 55:25, and 58:15. l slowed down considerably in the last lap as I felt the wind picking up and started feeling my left upper glutes as well. My final official time was 3:43:12.

The only photo form my ride is this one


which is actually a snapshot of a movie that my friend Fiona took and posted on Facebook. Thanks Fi!

The run

Another transition and another box of chocolate milk. After five hours, this one wasn’t as cold as the first one but was still nice to drink. I emptied my back pockets and filled them back again, now only with gels and one energy bar. I put my socks and my shoes on and off I went, for the first time with the full orange outfit.


Love this photo from Scottie T Photography*. Capturing the walking sign in the photo was brilliant!

I started strong, running the first couple of kilometers in just over 9 minutes. Four minutes and thirty seconds per kilometer is way faster than my marathon pace, let alone after one hour swimming and almost four hours riding. However, I decided not to control my pace and let the body dictate what a “comfortably hard” run would mean at that stage. I was backing this decision on how I felt the previous weekend in my last long training session before the race. This 11km run at 4:30 min/km pace after a solid 85km ride boosted my confidence and completely changed my mindset for the race. This is the magic of training: not only it strengthens your body but, perhaps even more important, it prepares your mind for race day.

Of course I wasn’t expecting to keep that pace for much longer, certainly not on the climb to Parliament House. Not even the massive cheering from my friends at the Bilbys’ aid station halfway through the climb could make me run fast uphill. In the end I manage to keep a decent pace in the first ten kilometers with a time of 49:36.



A big thank you to all the Bilbys for cheering me up and for these photos!


A much happier face going downhill. Thanks Trent Dawson for the photo.

I was slowed down quite a bit in the next 10km doing it in 54:22, but I was still running at a pace that would allow me to complete the marathon in under four hours. Talking about marathon, the third lap came and I started to think about the extra kilometers that I needed to do. I noticed that the course lap was slightly shorter than 10km and began to do calculations in my head to decide the best way to add the extra bit. The original plan was to do one lap and a half and complete 45 km. However, that would lead to two consecutive climbs to the Parliament House and, given that I was getting pretty tired, I decided that that was not the best of the plans. Instead,  I decided to go for an extra couple of laps around the Parliament gardens: it was flat up there, plenty of shade, pleasant surroundings and I thought I could convince someone to join me at least on that short loop. Next time I passed by the Bilbys tent I asked: “Anyone keen for a run around the Parliament to keep me company in my extra lap?” Tim Kinder accepted the invitation and I headed to the finish line with a plan for the extra 12km.

As I approached the finish line I looked for Marcele and Clara and there they were. I was so happy to see my wife and daughter waiting for me under the Triathlon ACT’s blue inflatable arch. I crossed the finish line,  kissed them (see Clara’s video below), received my medal, ate some fruit that Fiona brought me, and posed for pictures. I finished the race in 11th place with a total time of 7:23:53 but I still had some kilometers to cover so I gave my medal to Marcele and kept running.


Waving to Clara at the finish line


Fruits! So sick of gels at that point.


Throwing garbage in the wrong bin. The race chip was supposed to go there!


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As I was about to start, Brad and Liz (the race organisers that gave me all the support to include my marathon in their Triple Edge event) told me that their daughter wanted to run with me. What a start! She was so quick that I couldn’t keep up with her. I’m serious, she was too fast for my tired legs. The funny thing is that she kept going despite Liz’s calls for her to stop. Eventually she stopped. Lucky me!


The little Arabella outran me easily!

After this sprint start I slowed down the pace quite a lot, running at over 6 min/km. With the race over, my only worry was not to drag for too long as people volunteering at the aid stations probably wanted to go home. At the Bilbys aid station, Tim joined me. We climbed towards the Parliament House and ran around the gardens twice before going down again past the aid station. Tim decided to keep running to the finish line. It was so refreshing to have someone to talk to and share the final moments of that race, even more so with such a lovely person as Tim. As we hit the lake and approached the finish line, Tim stopped and told me he would let me enjoy the last two kilometers by myself. Two tough and slow kilometers. And after 8:54:13 I crossed the finish line for the second time, completing my seventh marathon in 3:59:16.




Crossing the finish line for the second time: 8:54:13 for the whole thing and 3:59:16 for the marathon. Photos courtesy of the Triple Edge team and Fiona.

How did I feel after? Extremely happy and extremely hungry! It was an amazing feeling to finish such a tough race and to finish it well. Everything worked as planned, no foggy googles, no chaffing, no flat tyres, no blisters, no cramps, nothing. Just the awesome feeling of having achieved something that, until the week before the race, I feared I wasn’t prepared enough to do.


Looking pretty relaxed after the race. Does it look like I raced for almost 9 hours? Thanks Fi for the photo.

It took me quite some to get over the post-race high and to take the smile off my face. The only disappointment was the fundraising as I couldn’t reach my goal of $3500 by the end of marathon 7. I thought that the media coverage and the toughness of this race would encourage more people to donate. The lesson is that donations from people that don’t know you is rare (in my case $0 so far) so the fundraising still relies on generous friends and family. Talking about them, I should thank them all for helping me raise $3240 for cancer research!!


The “research dollars” vs. marathons race. To donate visit http://cantoo.org.au/fundraisers/AndreCarvalho



*Scott was very kind to allow me to use his photos. If you liked his work, you can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Triple Edge endurance triathlon and marathon 7: race preview (part 3)

After the swim and the bike legs, it is finally time for a preview of the run part of the Triple Edge Endurance Triathlon and marathon number 7. The actual race consists of 3 laps of 10 km starting from the transition at Ronds Terrace, going up the Parliament House and then back. Here is the map:

T3X Run Map Revised-website

Run course for the Triple Edge Endurance triathlon: 3 laps of 10km

In my case, to complete the December marathon, I’ll be finishing the race and going for an extra lap. In fact, an extra lap and a half to complete 45km. Brad Allen from Triple Edge put the logistics in place: after finishing the official race, I’ll go through an opening in the enclosed recovery area to continue my run, and I’ll also have access to the aid stations in the extra 15km.

The weather forecast is looking good. After a Friday with strong winds that made the TryStars race (7 to 10 yrs) turn into a run-bike-run, Sunday promises to be a mostly sunny day with light winds and a top temperature of 28oC.

Less than 24 hours to the race. Remember the reasons why I’m doing this, donate to Can Too, and help fight cancer!


Triple Edge endurance triathlon and marathon 7: race preview (part 2)

In the first post about marathon 7 preview, I described how I got into the idea of running my December marathon by adding extra kilometers to the Triple Edge Long Distance Tri. Now, with just a few days before the event, I’m feeling at the same time excited and dreaded. I’ve done a few Olympic distance triathlons but that is it, nothing longer than that. I’ve been consistent with my swimming training over the winter and comfortable with this leg of the race. By now, after 6 marathons, I’m also quite confident with the running distance. However it is a completely different story with the ride, the bike has always been my weakest leg in a triathlon race. Here is the course map for the race


Official bike course.

and the official description from the race organisers.

I still don’t know what damage the 120km effort on the bike will do to my running but I’m focusing on the positive side:

  1. I know many parts of the course quite well because it is on my commuting to work route.
  2. I did an 85 km ride on Saturday followed by a 11 km run and I felt really well and relatively fast.
  3. I have a new bike 🙂

I guess I have no more excuses.


I’m halfway there! Marathon 6: race report

As mentioned in the post with the race preview, marathon number 6 was completed during the Sri Chinmoy Triple Triathlon here in Canberra. This meant a very early start for me as the first swim would begin at 6am. Since I’d be away for most of the day, I woke up at 4:30 to get everything ready: wetsuit, goggles, swim cap, running shoes, Can Too shirt, socks, running shorts, extra clothes for after the race, towel, race bib, vaseline, energy bars, gels… did I miss anything?

The (first) swim

It was still dark when I got to Lake Ginninderra. I saw Martin, a friend from Bilbys, getting ready to get in the water at 5:30 together with the other competitors in the solo category. I wished him good luck with what was going to be a long day (he ended up finishing in 13:27:32), and continued my preparation for the race.


The brave solo competitors getting ready for the start.

I did this leg in 2011 and finished in 27:36 but I’ve improved a lot since then and my prediction for the 1500m swim was 25 min. As always, the first 100m were hard with many swimmers battling for space. I found myself between two competitors but still with enough space to swim without being hit by others. The group was pretty packed until the first buoy (at least that was my perception) but after that I found myself with plenty of space.  A quick check to see if I hadn’t gone off course and I noticed that I was alone between the front pack and another pack coming behind. I was swimming well and feeling good, despite the first signs of chaffing from the wetsuit rubbing on my neck. I’ve used that wetsuit many times and never had problems before. Well, there is always a first…

I began to breath more on the left side to avoid the rubbing and just kept going. Before the second buoy I started to get close to a guy that was getting dropped by the front pack and my competitive side gave me extra energy to chase him. We swam close together for a while but with the finish line in sight I forgot about him and focused on the beach.

I got out of the water and immediately started screaming Ben’s name. I tagged him, he went off and I finally looked at my time: 23:50, more than a minute faster than my prediction. I couldn’t be happier.

While Ben rides…

I knew that Ben would take a while to finish the first bike leg so I took my time and talked to friends while watching competitors from other waves arriving. I was enjoying the race atmosphere but it was time to drive to the next transition and get into my marathon gear, but not before making a pit stop to grab a coffee and a banana bread.

I got to the transition with time to spare and got ready to run. I met Michelle, Ben’s wife, and she asked me if I was going to take it easy on the race because of the marathon, or if I would run hard the 20km of the race and then survive the rest of the marathon. To be honest I hadn’t planned a race strategy until that point and I thought: “I’m not sure it is a good idea, but since I’m here with a number on my chest, I should go hard.” So I replied to Michelle: “I thin I’ll go hard…”

Let the marathon begin!

Ben arrived, tagged me and I started my sixth marathon. I was excited to reach the halfway mark of my fundraising challenge. It was my third marathon in Canberra and for the third time I was going to climb both Mount Majura and Mont Ainslie. The last time I met these two climbs was in my fourth marathon and it was really tough. I found it easier this time: the knee was pain free, I was in a good mood after my first swim, and I knew the course this time ;-). I just went steady uphill and then used the gentle descent from Mount Majura to make the most out of my fearless downhill style :-). The highlight of this part was running following the mountain bike course at Majura Pines. It was really cool!


Left: Average pace and elevation per kilometer. Right: full race map. Bottom: Elevation profile and pace. First 8km highlighted in orange.

After the mountain bike course, another climb. This time was Hackett Hill. Once again a steady climb followed by faster downhill runs over a rocky surface. Tripping over is not a thought that should ever cross your mind when you want to run fast downhill. Luckily, it only crossed mine now, weeks after the run.

A sharp left turn took me to the Mount Ainslie climb. I focused on not stopping and went up, again slow but steady. I reached the summit and then dashed downhill along the walking trail, eventually dodging people and dogs walking up the hill.


Same as in the second figure but now for Hackett-Ainslie.

The hills were over and now it was a flat run towards the finish line were I would tag Perry for his lake swim. I finished in 1:35:26, more than four minutes faster then my best time in this leg in 2011.


Tagging Perry at the second transition. The mission now was to run the extra 22 km to complete a marathon. Photo courtesy of Emily Stacey, our friend and support crew throughout the race.

From then on I decreased the pace and went by myself to complete the marathon. I started running against the flow of competitors and got a strange look from those that had seen me at the first transition or along the course. One of the solo competitors even asked me if that was a cool down. We were both running, so there was not enough time to explain…

I ran towards the third transition at Acton terminal where I should meet Ben to get my car keys back. He greeted me with: “I found my grey bag!”. “Which grey bag?”, I replied. “My grey bag… the one you left at the beach.” In the excitement of finishing the first swim, I forgot to put Ben’s backpack in my car at the first transition! I was so embarrassed. I got my key, picked my camel back and food in the car and headed south towards Weston Park, not before apologising to Ben once more…

As I reached the Commonwealth Bridge I saw Joe (the same friend from the marathon in Rio) and Chris waiting for me. After a couple of marathons with my phone failing, this time all worked fine and they found me with no problem tracking me through the Road ID app. I had sent an invite for people to join me at the second part of the run and they were the only two to show up. I was really happy to see them as I was not looking forward to another long and lonely run. The run was much more enjoyable with someone to talk to. The only problem was that Perry and Ben were racing faster than I expected and I wouldn’t have much time to spare before meeting with Ben at the third transition. Just before the loop around Weston Park we split. Chris and I went to complete the loop while Joe was left behind. We met again and headed back to the Lake. Worried with the time, I decided to increase my pace. I thanked them for the company, apologised for splitting again, and ran the last 6 km alone.

The end of the sixth marathon was a bit anticlimactic: I finished alone at the car park, stretched for a couple of minutes, jumped into the car, and drove to the third transition. Mission accomplished! Only six more to go!

The last swim

A few minutes after my arrival at T3, Ben finished his second bike leg. A few fruits, lollies and cups of water later and we drove to the Lake Tuggeranong for my last swim. It would be a pool swim as the Lake was closed for swimming due to the water (bad) quality. My legs were quite heavy and I thought that they would sink to the bottom of the pool. When Perry arrived and I began the swim, I actually felt good. The legs were kicking OK and it felt like a recovery session. I didn’t swim very hard as my arms (surprise!) were not really responding well, but I finished in better shape than I expected. I tagged Ben for the last time and took a relaxing shower before driving to meet him again at T6.

The finish

With my two swims and a marathon out of the way, it was my time to just cheer Ben and Perry in the last two legs of the race. Perry, Emily and I were waiting for Ben to arrive at T7 but he was taking longer than expected. Another rider came and, since I had seen him chatting with Ben earlier, I decided to ask him if he had seen our team mate: “He was way ahead of me. Hasn’t he arrived?” – he said – “He must have taken a wrong turn”, he completed. Indeed Ben got lost twice in the last bike leg but still came sixth in our category.

Perry left for the last 13 km and we drove to the finish line. About an hour later we could see two runners approaching on the opposite road: Perry was about 100 m behind a runner that was clearly slower at that point. Sprint finish in such a long race? Improbable but that’s what happened. We lost sight of both as they turned left heading to the car park leading to the finish line. As they approached the last 50 m it was clear that Perry wouldn’t make it. He had given it all and finished in 1:01:51, the second fastest time in our category!

We proudly took the third place in the teams of 3 category with a time of 10:00:52, just 52 seconds over 10 hours! And here is the official team photo and all our splits:


The Threeple Team. Photo courtesy of Emily Stacey (again).

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Our results.

Triple Edge endurance triathlon and marathon 7: race preview

I haven’t posted my race report on marathon 6 yet, but since I’m only two weeks away from marathon 7, I thought it would be a good idea to write a post about it. Here is the plan: I’m racing the Triple Edge endurance triathlon (4km swim, 120km bike, 30km run) and adding to it an extra lap on the run course to complete my seventh marathon with 45km.

Sounds crazy, right? I still don’t believe that I got into this but here is a summary of how it happened.

I was in an information night for the Bilbys novices program and Kylie, a friend that ran with me in marathon 2, asked me about the plans for the next marathons. I told her about the problem that I had for December: I had registered for the Triple Edge event earlier in the year (before my idea of the fundraising marathons) and didn’t want to do a marathon on the weekend preceding the race nor on the weekend after. That would leave only the week between Christmas and New Year’s eve. She then asked me: “How long is the run?”, and I replied “30km”. Without hesitation and in an almost blasé tone she said: “Then just add another 12km and you’ll be done with your December marathon.”

Maybe she was being sarcastic, I don’t know… the point is that here I am two weeks from the biggest challenge yet. There is more to this story but I’ll write about that later (no, I didn’t fall for this trap that easily, but I fell in the end…). Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with the official description of the swim leg of the race by the organisers themselves. Enjoy the read.


Swim course of the Triple Edge Endurance Triathlon



Marathon 6: race preview

It is quite exciting to be reaching the halfway mark. Yes, the sixth marathon is only three days away! It is going to be the third marathon in Canberra and for the third time I’ll be climbing Mount Majura and Mount Ainslie. This time the climbs will be part of the Sri Chinmoy Triple Triathlon, which I’ll be racing in a team of three together with Ben and Perry.

Here is a snapshot of the race:

Leg 1: Swim 1.5 km (Lake Ginninderra)
Leg 2: Mountain Bike 35 km (Black Mountain and Bruce Ridge)
Leg 3: Run 20 km (Mt. Majura/Mt. Ainslie)
Leg 4: Swim 3.5 km (Lake Burley Griffin)
Leg 5: Mountain Bike 40 km (Arboretum/Mt. Stromlo/Cooleman Ridge)
Leg 6: Run 12 km (Mt. Taylor)
Leg 7: Swim 1.2 km (Lake Tuggeranong)
Leg 8: Mountain Bike 24 km (Mt. Waniassa/Mt. Stanley)
Leg 9: Run 13 km (Red Hill)

Ben will do all the rides, Perry legs 4, 6, and 9, and I’ll do the first and last swims and the first run. You may be wondering where the marathon is. Well, after the 20km run I’ll add extra kilometers to make up for the marathon distance. Here is what it will look like:


Top: map of the first run leg of the Triple Tri. Bottom: The extra run that will add up to the marathon distance (here is the link to a detailed map). You’re welcome to join me at any part of the second half of the marathon.

The second part was planned to have options for people wanting to join me for different distances. I’ll start near the Boat House, cross Kings Ave bridge and follow the Lake towards Weston Park. After a loop around the Park, I’ll head back , turn left at Commonwealth bridge and do the loop between the two bridges. A good chance for those looking for a short 5 km run. After this loop, I’ll turn left towards the Acton Ferry terminal where Ben should have parked my car after his first bike leg 😉 . There is the option to run to the National Museum and back in case the distance is still under 42.2 km at that point.

Remember my policy: I’ll run at the pace of the slowest person in the group. So if you want to run all, or just part of it, let me know so that we can organise paces and distances.

Jackie Fairweather sprint triathlon

After a couple of duathlons, last Sunday was supposed to be the first triathlon race of the ACT calendar, and a very special one. The whole weekend was filled with sporting activities in honour of the late Jackie Fairweather, a great name of the sport. What was not in the plans was the storm that hit Canberra on the days preceding the race. The result? Lake closed for swimming and the triathlon became a duathlon. The 750m swim turned into a 2km run, disappointing many of the competitors, including me.

In one hit I missed my chance to jump in the lake as a practice for the Sri Chinmoy Triple Tri this coming Sunday, and also lost the small advantage that the swim gives me over the excellent cyclists out there. Just to give an idea, in the last Olympic distance triathlon in March this year I was the 30th male competitor to leave the water, the 32nd in the run but only the 153rd on the bike. No, there was no flat tyre, nothing. These are real numbers.

After knowing that the race was going to be a duathlon I traced my race plan: would try to run in just under 4 min/km in the first run, go hard on the bike, and do the last 5km in under 22 min. I have been training for my marathons and long races and wasn’t expecting much from the Sprint race.


Running into transition after the first run. Mission accomplished: average pace of 3:57 min/km (as measured by my Garmin. See full activity here). Photo from Shelley Try and Elizabeth O’Keefe available on the Triathlon ACT Facebook page.

As always, the field started too fast for me but I instinctively followed the others. A few hundred meters later and I had corrected my pace to follow the race plan, finishing the first run in 8 minutes. The first transition was seamless: shoes off, helmet on, off you go.

I mounted the bike and head west on Parkes Way towards the point that everyone was talking about, the 100m climb over 1km at the Arboretum. On the way, I was surprised that I wasn’t losing positions, in fact in the ascent at Lady Denman Dr I started overtaking some people. Shortly after I reached the Arboretum climb, raised from the saddle, and rode most of the climb in that position. It was nice to overtake some pretty fancy TT bikes during the climb 😉 . On the way back I managed to keep a good speed all the way. Overall I was happy with the ride but unfortunately I don’t have the correct time for it. The official bike time includes both transitions and it took me some time on the bike to remember to press the the lap button on my watch.

Transition 2: rack the bike, helmets off, shoes on. All fairly simple if the inner sole of both my shoes hadn’t come partially out when I took my shoes off in T1. It took me some precious seconds to fix that and start the second run.

The second run started, as always, fast. I think my legs try to keep up with the cadence they got used to on the bike. I don’t have to tell that it only lasts about 200 m and it is all back to normal. The run went well and I didn’t feel too tired. Maybe I could have pushed a bit more but I was happy with the time of 21:00.

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I think it was the first time that I gained positions on the bike leg. Quite happy that I kept improving my position through the race. My last kilometer running was exactly at the same pace as my first one.


Left: After-race chat with Emily (top) and Elton (bottom). Right: at the Triple Edge tent, the organisers of the December endurance triathlon (4km/120km/30km) here in Canberra. For me it will be 4km/120km/42+km as I’ll be completing the seventh marathon on that event. A big thank you to Brad from Triple Edge for making that possible!