Competing interests

Last weekend I was one of the 10,910 runners who crossed the finish line in the SMH Half Marathon.

The race was a blast from start to finish. I had a good run and, by the end, I was knackered and elated in equal measure.

It was a great day out. Sure, the traffic at the start was a bit heavy and the crowds milling around before and after the race are a bit trying when you’re trying to get to the loo or food stall but the atmosphere was sensational and spurred me on to a time I was pretty stoked with (1:40:00, thanks for asking).

I know I wouldn’t have done anywhere near that time if it had been a solitary 21.1km. Race-day adrenalin does that for you.

There has been a huge explosion in the number of competitions being staged and the number of  people willing to stump up their entry fee, pin on a number and have a go.

From big-name events like the Sydney Half Marathon or Melbourne’s City2Bay to smaller races organised by local clubs and the excellent Saturday morning 5km Park Runs that are springing up around the country, you could compete in some sort of event practically every weekend wherever you are  in Australia.

I love racing and, if time permitted, would do a lot more. Having a bunch of races on the calendar gives me something to aim for and train for.

Racing keeps you honest when you might be tempted to stay in bed instead of doing a planned training session. Races also give you a chance to post an official time and compare your progress against other people of a similar age.

And I think races also keep you grounded because, no matter how fast or fit you might think you are, unless you’re an elite competitor there is always going to be a whole lot of people in front of you, regardless of the event you’ve entered.


But putting all that aside I reckon races are simply good fun – especially if you’ve got a bit of a competitive streak.

Equally, I recognise that there is so much more to running than just competing against others (and yourself). I also love my long, solitary training runs – especially out in the bush as far away from any other humans as possible – when it is all about time on your feet rather than any particular pace.

Running alone allows you to lose yourself in your own thoughts, let the mind wander or not to think about anything at all in particular.

And then after a couple of months of not doing a race I can’t help myself checking out the online calendars for upcoming events to have a crack at.

What do you reckon? Are races and training for them an essential part of your running or does the idea of organised competition leave you cold?

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