Melanie Leahy’s well executed pacing for the full marathon.
Wow, what a day! Had my first go at pacing today & loved it!! As 6hr pacers in the marathon, another runner (Paul Bernard) & I had to stick to an 8:30 pace, so it was a lot of walking with a bit of jogging.
It was drama filled, right from the start, with two pacers having their flags ripped out of their packs by other runners. There was a scuffle in the first km, but the flags were retrieved.
Sticking to such a slow pace meant that we had the sweeper’s van right behind us (like, literally 5m behind us), then a police car or two behind that. One benefit of being so slow was that we just about had the Harbour Bridge & the Cahill to ourselves. It was a bit surreal.
I was definitely surprised to find a few runners struggling by the 10k mark. By about 12k, we were entering Centennial Park & the sweeper’s van was starting to get busy. We caught up with one lady & tried to keep her with us, but she couldn’t keep up. She dropped way back & was just ahead of the sweeper’s van (which had also dropped right back) along with a couple of other runners. At one point I looked back & they were all gone, so I assumed they had been picked up by the van. Then a couple of kms later, she suddenly appeared in front of us! Hmm, dodgy! Paul & I were discussing what to do about it then we caught her again. Again she couldn’t keep up with us & that was it – the van got her that time.
At about the 20km mark, I spotted Nick Drayson going really well & looking very strong.
As we wound our way around the city blocks, the tall buildings played havoc with our watches, so we ended up totally unsure of whether we were ahead, on time or behind our target pace. Mental calculations from 26kms on, based on often inaccurate road markers made for a stressful next 10kms.
On the way out to Pyrmont, we passed Les’s drink station which was in full swing, with everyone working hard.
Quite a few runners were really struggling over the last 10kms. We tried our best to keep them going. The determination of some of them was amazing to see. They were clearly struggling but absolutely determined to not give up.
Passing Les’s drink station the second time & we were nearly finished. The last couple of kms were a bit overwhelming, with lots of people thanking us & cheering us on. The final 300m to the Opera House felt like we were walking down a ‘red carpet’, which was totally unexpected, but really special. We finished in 5:58:52 – not quite as good as Mike Morrissey, but not too bad for a first attempt.
All in all, it was one of the most amazing runs I’ve ever done. A totally incredible experience!!