Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Medal of honour - Racing around Albert Park without wheels or an F1 engine

Published by Amy Fulton

Run, Amy, run
Run, Amy, runCredit: Amy Fulton

In 2011, inspired by Sidepodcast’s very own Christine, I started running. Eventually I could run 5km without stopping, so I ran a race, got a finishers medal, and then barely ran again for another 18 months.

Once I started running again at the end of 2012 I realised I needed to keep setting new goals to ensure I kept getting out there. Then I got the February newsletter from the Australian Grand Prix and saw the Australian Grand Prix Run in the sidebar.

Organised by Supersprint Events, the Australian Grand Prix Run is a chance to run either one or two laps of the F1 track, with all its infrastructure in place, the weekend before the race. As far as I’m aware is the only event like it on the Grand Prix calendar. I did briefly considering entering the one lap 5K event, but I figured I needed to challenge myself, so I registered for the full 10K over two laps.

The fences, grandstands, overpasses and signage were all there and participants were encouraged to run in the colours of their favourite F1 team. My guess would be that roughly one in 20 people took up this suggestion, and by far McLaren was the team most represented. Personally I went for the rocket red victory shirt because you’ll never get lost in a crowd with that on.

There were 862 people in the 10km race and the start was a little bit of a shambles. We were divided into colour zones based on our predicted finishing times and I had selected the “under 90 minutes” yellow zone because I was hoping to cross the finish line in under 1 hour 10 minutes. In front of me were the red and green zones, and blue was behind. In the starting area the zones were spaced out only a couple of metres apart, nowhere near enough room for everyone to fit where they were supposed to.

I found myself surrounded by people wearing green wristbands, so I kept trying to move back but it felt like no matter how far back I went there was just as many green runners as yellow ones. This meant that once we did actually get over the start line I was surrounded by people getting frustrated by the slower runners in front of them. I also heard none of the pre-race briefing because the guy doing it either had the world’s worst megaphone or it wasn’t turned on because he couldn’t be heard from the middle of the pack, let alone the back. Hopefully he didn’t say anything crucial!

The heat is on
The heat is onCredit: Amy Fulton

The course had markers at each kilometre, and the first one we came across after only a few hundred metres was 6km. That is some kind of sick torture when 6km still feels like forever away. The least fun part of the first lap is running around the track while thinking “everything I’m doing, I have to do this all again!” The most fun part was discovering they had added extra water tables on Lakeside Drive. Melbourne was in the middle of its longest stretch ever of consecutive days over 30 degrees and it was really hot out there. I’m not sure I would have stuck to my goal of running the whole 10km if there were only two pit stops on each lap.

I had only reached turn 15 when the front running men started lapping me. The speed at which they came streaming past was incredible and the winner ended up reaching the finish line in just over 29 minutes. I didn’t get lapped by any women, which I’m going to take as a victory for slowness.

My second lap seemed a little more fun because with each corner I went through I knew I wouldn’t have to see it again until the following weekend. At the 8km mark the sun really came out which was only bearable because I knew I was almost finished. Hitting 9km was exciting because it was the farthest I had ever run before in my whole life. I had big plans to hit 10km at least once before the Grand Prix Run but the endless heat in the week before the race cancelled that idea.

In the end my time between crossing the start and finish lines was 01:08:14 which saw me earn 737th place. If this was a real F1 race I’m pretty sure that’d earn no points but I was really happy with my time and my first ever 10K finishers medal and I’m already looking forward to coming back in 2014 and finishing in less than an hour (hopefully!)

Next stop Sochi!
Next stop Sochi!Credit: Amy Fulton