There was an Englishman, an Irishman and an Australian…but it’s not the start of a joke, it’s the start of a race – the Bunbury Half Marathon in Western Australia.
There was of course more than one Aussie taking part, and I wasn’t even the only Englishman, but as we waited on a sunny morning the Irishman told me that he’d finished 12th in his age group at last year’s Ironman WA in nearby Busselton with a 3:06 marathon. Clearly I wasn’t going to be picking up the €500 in cash for first place.
Not that the money or a podium finish was on my mind. With the London Marathon in two week’s time I was just looking for a good slightly-faster-than-goal-pace run to take a bit of speed into my taper.
A couple of months ago I’d set a new PB of 1:24:11 at the Brighton Half Marathon, so I had nothing to prove in terms of putting down a time (and yes, I know that the race organisers have since admitted that the course was 146m short, but I’m still claiming it!).
The half marathon is one of five races that make up the Bunbury 3 Waters Running Festival, ranging from 5K to 50K – all organised by the Bunbury Runners Club.
I’d chosen the event as it fitted in around my holiday to Australia at the time, and race day didn’t disappoint – beautifully sunny, albeit with a strong wind.
Most of the race was alongside the pristine Indian Ocean, either on the road or the boardwalk, but we also looped up to Koombana Bay and ‘Bunbury Big Swamp’ – a conservation wetland sanctuary.
My only complaint with the course (as with most of the coastal running in WA) is that so much of the route was concrete pavement. This is my least preferred surface and where possible I ran on the grass verge or tarmac instead.
Overall though, this was a great race, with excellent local support and real community feel to it. Around 500 runners took part across the five races and with cash prizes on offer for the half, marathon and ultra distances there were some good athletes at the pointy end of the field.
Roberto Busi finished in 1:14:12 to take $500 for first place in the half, with Hannah Strike first woman in 1:31:10. In the marathon, Ross Langford won in 2:42:29 with Kylie Durward taking her €500 prize with a 3:04:08 finish.
I crossed the line in 11th place in 1:31:08. My Garmin logged my distance at 21.4K – clearly payback for that ‘short’ Brighton Half Marathon!