Today, was the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon. We were unaware of this as we set off on a (comparatively short) bike ride around the sights of Sydney. A half marathon is a crazy 21km long. Turns out this is one of Australia’s most iconic and largest half marathons. It takes in many of the big sights of Sydney e.g. the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Iconic it may be, but Sydney is a hilly city and there are hills on this route. Seems cruel to arrange a route with hills considering the massive distance these poor runners had to endure!
Our first hint that there was a running event were some people walking away with bib numbers pinned to their shirts. We did not understand then, that these people were the absolute cream of the crop and had already finished their 21km morning run.
Next, we rode along the sidewalk of the road which formed the final leg of the half marathon. At this point, there were loads of runners streaming past us, giving it their all, on the final leg. They had amazing rhythm and groove to their running, and they must have been relieved to get close to the end. Grit, sweat, resilience and determination was written all over their faces. They were a diverse bunch. Not just all the sinewy marathon types you would come to expect. There were men and women of all different ages, races and sizes. There were quite a number that you would never expect, based on their physique, would be capable of running such a long distance.
As someone who wants to slow to a walk after 90 seconds of slow jogging, the idea of running 21km is unfathomable and an unreachable goal. Yet, hundreds of people were doing it! And this bunch, was doing it with, dare I say it, some ease! Yes, they looked exhausted and hot, but their run had an unstoppable rhythm. There was no doubt they would easily make it to the finish.
No photos of the runners because I was strangely transfixed looking into their faces, wondering how much they were hurting and how they could keep going. Also, because I try not to take photos of people for the blog without their consent.
Some time later on, we came upon the stragglers. These were runners who had slowed to an exhausted walk. They were passing the hydration station where volunteers were still cheering them on as if they would win the race. I really commend them for taking on a half marathon and kudos to the volunteers for providing such encouragement and facilitating the hydration station. Other volunteers were spaced along the route, some were keeping up a constant stream of encouragement to the passing runners. What legends!
The most amazing thing was, riding through the city later on and seeing these runners, still with their bib numbers pinned on, melding back into the normal population with us mere mortals. These superheroes, distinguishable only on this special day with their bib numbers and medals were morphing into mum’s, dads, sons, daughters, friends etc. We saw runners walking home!! Seems insane after such a massive physical feat to have to then walk home! We saw runners who had turned into mothers, dealing with their whingey kids. Some were walking and munching on an apple, others had stopped for a well deserved brunch, many were chatting on their phones or with their friends. All were highly functioning despite just running 21km! They had all cooled off and looked almost normal. You could not tell that these people had just run 21km! They were now, just people, going about their Sunday, getting on with the things they had to do.
These superheroes, live amongst us every day!!
These people are such an inspiration. They are our aspiration.