Sydney Marathon – Strutting in Sandals

It’s a bit of a long story how my wife and I ended up down under, but coincidentally Sydney Marathon (candidate race for the Abbott World Marathon Majors) turned out to be at the very tail end of our trip! 👀🤷🏽‍♂️I had a decent amount of running leading up to it, including a few 20-milers, but it was mostly going to be a fun run, with no time goal in mind. Besides, I was really looking forward to a spring run in Sydney with the forecasts (4 weeks prior) in the high 50’s/low 60’s. But race day turned out to be a whole different story! Here’s my Strava activity:

Exploring Down Under

My wife and I spent a couple of weeks up north, near Port Douglas, exploring the Daintree Fain Forest (Mossman Gorge and Cape Tribulation) as well as the Great Barrier Reef. Pretty amazing with plenty of solitude and far away from the hustle of the city. I managed to get a couple of runs in during this whole two weeks, but the days were spent mostly hiking, snorkeling, diving, etc.

Sydney Marathon

We flew into Sydney a few days prior to the marathon and the forecast was looking pretty gnarly. By sunrise it was already 65 degrees and moving up rather quickly into the high 80’s in just a couple of hours. There were a fair number of complaints about how the 10K’ers was starting at 5:45, half marathoners starting at 6:30am, while the marathoners didn’t leave until 7:10am. Maybe, it should’ve been in reverse? Not sure what the race organizers rationale was.

Sydney has just amazing transit and from where we were, every place we wanted to get to was, like, 20 minutes away. The waterways and the ferries were super cool too!

Before we left on this trip, I noticed my flip-flops were pretty trashed. I’d picked up a pair of Xero sandals at REI and tried a couple of runs, one on the trails and one on the road and it felt pretty amazing. It has been a while since I ran decent distances with sandals, so figured I’ll run the marathon with them. Woke up early and made it to the start line in time to catch the sunrise.

Lined up in Corral A2 (3:15 – 3:45 finish) and felt the warmth of the sun as soon as it hit my skin. We ran across the Sydney Harbor Bridge and everything felt just smooth, nice and cool. We hugged the Darling Harbor, around the Barangaroo Preserve and right around mile 10, ended up in Circular Quay. I was running at about 8:00 min/mile pace and felt pretty relaxed. A few more miles later, felt an urge to douse some water on my head – I felt like this came on too early, and it just started to get worse from there.

I’d seen the route map, but the sheer number of turns from mile 12 to mile 22, was a little crazy. If anything, on such a warm day, I felt like it aggravated the cramps big time. Everyone seems to be hurting by mile 16. I saw lots of cramps, people throwing up, and even a couple of ambulances with runners on IVs. It felt hot hot hot 🥵 and my skin was burning. Last 10 miles was just cramp after cramp after cramp. Even my elbows and fingers were cramping. Wasn’t pretty at all. The last 6 miles was really just heat/cramp management. Eventually made it to the last downhill and was just starting to get comfortable running again, but one more turn with 50 yards to go, got hit with another cramp. Pulled into the finish line at 4:10, which would be my slowest marathon so far!

Looking at the results/news later on, it appears that I finished in the top 3rd overall and in my age group, but it sure didn’t feel that way. Also 40+ runners needed medical assistance with 7 of them, apparently, in severe conditions. Dang. Well, I’m glad I got to finish yet another marathon in (mostly) one piece!

Absolutely N.O. spam. No more than two emails each week. Learn about injury-free running, race reports, new trail routes, awesome recipes and amazing interviews.