It was only the week before the Two Bays Trail Run in a high-level Trail Run Magazine editorial meeting (held on the 25th floor of our penthouse office, complete with indoor trail running track), that the decision was made for me to run the race.
From my memory the conversation went a little something like this:
‘Rosco, we need someone to run the Two Bays Trail Run and report back, and since you are the fastest, the best-looking and know how to speil, we think it should be you,’ said the editor.
‘Sure,’ I said. There was no point in false modesty.
‘We also need an everyman as a counterpoint to your eliteness, so I am also sending The Irish,’ said the editor. The Irish is our Business Development Manager, or as he is more widely know, The Other Terry Wogan.
‘Okay’, I said, ‘but only as long he showers and doesn’t try to run on all fours like last time.’
‘He had a shower last month and I have confiscated his running gloves, so we should be okay.’
‘Great,’ I said, but it wasn’t. Everyone knows that sales people carry the highly contagious Black Heart Virus (BHV), a disease that can be fatal to us creative types – I would have to be careful and keep my distance from The Irish. A media pass for the race was organised – the race was sold out with 750 entrants competing in either the 28km or 56km iteration – and The Irish and I made plans to meet before the race.
And so it was that I found myself waking at the unGodly hour of 4.22am* on a Sunday, shovelling some toast down my gullet and heading south. I was a little nervous, I was only entered in the 28km version but I hadn’t run for more than an hour since February the previous year when I wrecked my ankle in the last 12kms of the Cradle Run. While the birth of the of my son had also had a deleterious effect on my training (not to mention my sleep). However, I had one advantage, I knew the track. As training for the Cradle my brother and I had the 56km course, or, rather, run and walked and lay down – we picked a hot January day to run it, arriving down at Dromana too late in the day. Coming back up Arthurs Seat under a blazing afternoon sun I had had to take a lie down in the shade to slow my racing heart.
But today was a new day and the weather forecast looked cool, and while 7am might be a cruel time to start a race, it did mean the sun would be low in the sky. The drive went smoothly and The Irish and I met at the start. We had a short conversation, which I mostly didn’t understand because, of course, The Irish can only speak Irish:
‘Top of the mourning te ya Rrrrrosscco,’ said The Irish.
‘What?’ I said.
‘Sto actin’ the maggot, ya fool eegit.’
‘Fur feck’s sark, ar ye fecking dif?’
‘Sure, it’s a great day,’ I said, shaking my head and pretending to understand, as I normally do in all my conversations with The Irish.
Eventually (using a simple sign language The Irish can understand), we worked out a plan. I would run the 28km to Cape Schanck, where The Irish would have the mags on display for the finishers, then when I arrived The Irish and I would swap and I would show off the mags and The Irish would run back to Dromana, where I would meet him with his car.
Meanwhile a host of lycra-clad runners were gathering at the start line like a host of underfed greyhounds. Seven AM approached with a great shuffling of limbs and stretching of calves, then we were off! Or rather, those at the front were off, I was chatting at the back and got a flying start strolling over the line 23 seconds later (according to the timesheet).It wasn’t long before I was bounding up the slopes of Arthurs Seat like a tall, pasty Gebrselassie up a drain pipe, or at least I would have been if it weren’t for all the walkers blocking the track.
At the top a photographer somehow managed to find a shutter speed fast enough to catch me flying past in a blaze of blue nylon.Then it was down, down, down. (It was on this section that I had the indignity of being passed by a flying midget woman, who was barely tall enough to reach my elbow.) Then there was a bit of street running and being passed by old men old enough to be my father (that’s old). Followed by lovely single trail that seemed to be mainly downhill.In the end it all went fairly well, I tucked in behind someone and stuck on their tail for most of the race.
Fortunately, I managed to re-pass some of the father figures, the midget and the bloke with grey hair and a leg brace. Towards the end I began to tire, but I finished strongly after shoving some guy who was in my way off the track as I passed him, coming 112th overall in 2.34.At the end I met The Irish, who had set up a portable trestle table with Trail Run Magazines on it, and was busy confusing people with his attempts to explain what it was all about. After a bit of blethering about whether he should run it or not, I took over the table and off he went, bounding away like Shane Warne in a cake shop.
Soon I was joined by one of our regular writers, Emma Francis, who had stopped to take soil samples not once, not twice, but three times, apparently using her face as a shovel. Given that I was behind a table, and thus clearly had some official status, people kept coming up to ask me where: they could buy t-shirts, find first aid, find the toilets or ask me if I was related to Brad Pitt (no). Leah from Sydney also asked about rides back to Dromana, so I offered her a lift with the soil scientist and I.
Many people came to gaze upon our fine, new publication, flick through its pages with their grubby hands, while more than a few tried to walk away with a gratis copy thinking we were giving them away – no! All the while, my guts were starting to feel funny, and not funny ha ha. I was starting to worry that I had gotten too close to The Irish and he had given me a bout of the cursed BHV.
Soon it was time to pack up our wares and drive back to Dromana. It was here that the Great Cosmic Power of Karma paid me back. The portable trestle table turned out to be some kind of fiendish intelligence test when it came to dismantling it – a test I failed. Finally, Leah worked out how to collapse it and we packed it in The Irish’s car. It was here that Leah proved her worth again, when I couldn’t find the hand-brake (who puts a hand-brake next to the foot brake where you can’t see it?).
When we got back to Dromana I was going to wait for The Irish**, but the BHV was causing me waves of nausea and I wanted to get back to say goodbye to my wife and child in case it was fatal. I said goodbye to Leah and Emma and made my way home, stopping only beside the freeway at Frankston when the nausea and sore stomach came to a graphic head and forced an emergency stop.
As you can tell from the fact I am writing this story fortunately it wasn’t a fatal case of BHV, I seem to have had a lucky escape. Although following a S.W.O.T analysis of the race, I have come to some important realisations: going forward I am really going to sweat the assets and upsell the brand – Ross 2.0 is going to find synergies and incentivize for streamlined performance, and I am going to leverage the shit out of next year’s race.
– Ross ‘The Flash’ Taylor
*those two extra minutes of sleep make all the difference psychologically.
**The Irish finished in 3.5 hours.