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Sydney and Hobart runs by a Melbourne lad

Soldier Memorial Walk in Hobart, Tasmania

Soldier Memorial Walk in Hobart, Tasmania

In this last week I have had the need to travel to both Sydney and Hobart for work. With the last big push for Melbourne Marathon underway I needed to run, but also the travel meant I could so without feeling bad for taking time away from the family to run so I managed to get some quality runs in. I must say though the difference in runs between the two cities was chalk and cheese.


I was in Sydney on Thursday and Friday last week and planned all along to manage to use this trip to replace my long run on the weekend (weekend was my only two days at home so didn’t think a 3 hour absence would go down well…) but at the same time I didn’t want to commit to doing 30km as it didn’t really fit into the timeslot I had so, so instead I ran 18km on Thursday evening and 26km on Friday morning.

Thursday’s run saw me run from the CBD over the bridge and around the northern beaches to Mosman and Neutral Bay. I thought I would be able to run along the harbour and enjoy the waterviews. Wrong. Due to the fact that the harbour on the northside is largely private property it meant running inland along roads with very few waterviews. Part of my disappointment was certainly due to my lack of pre-planning a route, but it was a pretty frustrating experience. It was a pretty hilly run in the end and when I got back to the hotel I saw it was 27 degrees which explained why it felt a bit harder than usual.

The second run was much more enjoyable, I ran from the CBD up Oxford St all the way to Bondi Beach and then back along the coast. This had a gradual incline on the way out until the beach and then a few hills on the way back but was a much more pleasant and scenic run. The killer on this one was the humidity, I got back to the hotel and was drenched. The legs certainly also felt the run from the day before.

Usually in Sydney I just run around Darling Harbour/Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, etc but knew that wasn’t going to get me the distance I needed for these runs.


On Monday and Tuesday work took me to Hobart and I came in thinking that despite having two runs planned, I was a bit run down and thought I would get one at the most. It turned out to be two of the most enjoyable runs in a while. On Monday afternoon I headed out of the city up to the Domain and discovered a trail called the Soldiers Memorial Walk. I had grown up in Tasmania but had never heard of this before and since found out it was upgraded after I had left.

This was a nice gravel trail up through parklands where originally the Hobart community had planted 510 trees for soldiers from Hobart killed in World War 1. The upgrades had seen plaques installed to commemorate the soldiers and told a short story of each of them, what unit they were in and where and how they were killed. The parklands were beautiful, I had uninterrupted views of the Derwent River and I literally had to watch my step for rosellas sitting on the side of the path at regular intervals. It was like an untouched world. The trail itself went for about 3km and then I followed some other paths up to a look out before returning via the Domain Athletics track for a few laps and then the gradual descent down the trail. All up I did a leisurely 12km and it was thoroughly enjoyable.

My second run in Hobart was again one that I had thought of skipping, but I woke early and saw it was a nice day out so instead pulled on the runners and did an interval session around the Cenotaph, Regatta Grounds and Domain. It was pretty peaceful and I was able to do 8x600m with 60 seconds rest in between and felt invigorated to start the day.

Pack you’re running gear when traveling

I wouldn’t really like to say I preferred one location over the other as they both offered great challenges and different benefits for running. The warmer weather in Sydney was a great reprieve from a Melbourne winter but the stillness and easy ability to escape to nature in Hobart was a true thing of beauty. Either way it reinforces to me that if I’m traveling for work the most important thing to pack is my running gear so that I can get out of the hotel room and truly explore the city I’m visiting in a way that many people can’t or don’t.


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Marathon in the Kashmir Valley

Srinagar, known for its lakes and hills, held its inaugural marathon.

In a region of the world known predominantly for its military tensions between India and Pakistan, the power of marathoning showed threw yet again with the running of the inaugural Srinagar Marathon in the Indian administered but disputed state of Kashmir on 10 November.

Reyaz Ahmad, a member of the local police force, won the event, finishing in 2:43.00 and the entire field of 12 runners all completed the 42km course in less than 3 hours so this was no parade. While this is clearly not a world beating time, it is impressive when you consider all runners finished sub-3:00 on hilly terrain in the Kashmir Valley and in challenging conditions, with the race starting in sub-zero freezing temperatures.

I know from reading stories from marathon runners in the 1970’s, especially in the US, events back then were not the mass participation events that we see today but rather real races with small fields of genuine athletes pushing themselves and going for good times – where the mindset really was if you didn’t finish in under 3 hours you weren’t running! While I am glad that mindset has changed as I struggle through my 42km races and aim for 3:30, . I can’t help but think that this race would resonate with those runners!

The streets of the city of Srinagar

I don’t think the event is likely to challenge to become the next World Marathon Major, as the race has no website, there is no timing chips and in fact entrants times are rounded to the nearest minute, but it is amazing to see the reach marathons have and to consider this is held in one of the most treacherous parts of the world.

Srinagar is the Indian summer capital of the Kashmir region and is a heavily militarized city of slightly more than one million people. It has suffered from ongoing political and terrorist unrest with the local police and army often coming under attack from Kashmiri separatists.

The managing director of the events sponsor (TCI Freight), Umer Tramboo summed up the power an event like a marathon can have in the region, telling the local paper “We need to organise more such events. In our State youth have taken to lot of social evils, like drug abuse and it is only events like this that can take them away from  these evils”.

The course in took much of the 2,300 year old city but the highlight would have been running the 15 kilometres/9.6 miles around the city’s biggest lake.  While the race started in -2 (C)/(28 (F), the temperature in the mountainous region reaches highs in the mid-teens (C)/ 60’s (F). However if the race was held in a month’s time they would have been able to run on the Dal lake, as arctic wintry conditions means the lake freezes over.

Reyaz Ahmad, the winner of the inaugural Srinagar Marathon, receives his trophy

Given that I normally only hear of Kashmir in the news in relation to violence and conflict, I felt obligated to try and promote some good news from the region. Congratulations to Reyaz Ahmad, all entrants and event organisers for holding and completing the inaugural Srinagar marathon.

Have you heard of any marathons in unique or interesting parts of the world that you think deserve recognition?

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