lines, The walking of

Today was Round The Bays day. The last time I did it, two years ago, I ran it, but this year, with diminished fitness, I decided to walk it instead.

I got up early (or not, considering daylight saving had just ended) so I could catch the early bus. I waited at the bus stop, and waited, and eventually the bus showed up 10 minutes late. But tragically it was packed full of other Round The Bays entrants and couldn’t stop. So I set off on foot.

I was planning to walk to the next major bus stop and catch the next bus, but the electronic timetable showed the next bus wasn’t coming for another 15 minutes, so I continued on foot. I was only passed by one bus on my way to Quay Street. It seems strange that Stagecoach don’t put on extra buses for an event when lots of people want to use public transport.

4.5km later, I was at the start line, only 15 minutes late. This was actually quite good, because it usually takes about 10 minutes for the masses to thin out enough to start moving. I was able to start power walking right from the start, with my iPod drowning out Helen Clark’s commentary over the PA.

I powered along Tamaki Drive, passing many walkers. By the time I got to Kohimarama, I was feeling rooted, but I had some emergency-power jelly beans and pressed on to St Heliers and the finish line, adding 8.4km to the day’s tally.

My time was 1.41, which is two minutes slower than when I walked it in 2000, but considering I started 15 minutes late and had also just walked 4.5km, it works out to be my best walked time.

After the run I headed back to Mission Bay and saw “Walk The Line” at the Berkley. I wanted some air-conditioned comfort and it happened to be the next film to screen. It was an enjoyable tale, made better by the music.

Feeling refreshed after this, I decided to walk back to Auckland. I trudged slowly back around the bays, taking about twice as long to get there. My iPod went crazy. I think it’s broken. I’m so sad.

So all up I walked 21.3km, which is just over the distance of a half-marathon (though I’m sure that technically half-marathons don’t involve stopping for Johnny Cash biopics).

But this makes me think, if I can handle that much distance in a day, then perhaps a half-marathon isn’t out of the question. Ooh.

Pash

I’m vaguely considering doing Round The Bays this year. I did it in ’00 and ’01, but I forgot last year.

It was fun the first time, but the second time I got really sick of seeing all the stupid company t-shirts printed up for the occasion. Fictitious example “J J Bowman Printing (1987) Ltd says “Go for it team!” Round the Bays 2003. Printing excellence”.

I’m thinking that it might be better to just pick a nice afternoon and walk there. I walked to Mission Bay once, but I got the bus back because it was getting late.

Speaking of public transport, here’s another Big Day Out story:

I decided to get the train to BDO because I live within walking distance of the Mt Eden train station. I’d never used Auckland’s passenger train system before. I arrived at Mt Eden train station and was faced with a bleak, urban landscape. No, really.

Half the platform had been covered in asphalt, the rest was in rubblely concrete. There was a sign that I assume had once had “MOUNT EDEN” painted on it, but had since been painted completely black. There was one shelter with a decent amount of seats, but it looked like it had been graffitied and set on fire, painted, and repainted many time. I saw about five different colours of flaked paint on the seat. The bleakness was briefly broken by some interesting graffiti on the walls of the neighbouring buildings.

Me and my fellow passengers waited, and soon a train came along. It was really full, but I managed to find a carriage. I noticed that some stations had signs, others didn’t. Eventually the train arrived at the bleak, desolate Penrose station.

Is it too much to expect a train system like the ones in Sydney and Melbourne? Is it an extravagant luxury to have timetables, a few signs showing the station names, non-vandalised shelters and stations that feel safe and inviting?

Round The Bays

“The Journey
The Destination:
A Better Lifestyle For You.
A Brighter Future For
Our Children”

From the Round The Bays Fun Run Information pamphlet.

It was a dreaded sunny day so I decided to participate in the 28th annual Round The Bays fun run. Gathering my brother for some company, I headed off to the city centre for 8.3 kilometres of fun.

Driving around the downtown area at 9.00 am searching for a car park, it seemed that if 80,000 people were going to be in the area that it might possibly be a good idea to have one of the many city council-owned car parks in the area open. In the end I parked in the Sky City car park. On ya.

It was a bit of a rush to get to the start line, but the walk along Quay Street was accompanied by commentary from pseudo-funnyman Willy De Witt.

Finally 9.30 rolled around and Mr De Witt counted down and said “Go!” then a big booming cannon went off. Three minutes later I was able to find room to walk a few steps and finally started my journey around the bays.

By that stage the commentary included the dulcet tones of Miss/Mrs/Ms Helen Clark, prime minister of this fair nation. She stood atop an extended platform, resplendent in a white, green and pink tracksuit.

There were many people from various companies wearing their customised shirts. URLs and nonsensical slogans abounded (“Speed matters. Now more than ever.”).

I had the opportunity to go along as part of a corporate team, but I didn’t. What’s in it for me? I’d still have paid the same entry fee, I would have got a rude-arse singlet and been able to take part in a post-run corporate shin-dig. Not much incentive there. I will walk with a number on my shirt, but not with a name.

On more than one occasion I found myself stuck behind a group of people from various firms who constantly whinged about all sorts of things. One group of women agreed that they were “about a quarter of the way through” when they were actually about three quarters.

It’s not really a true Round The Bays due to the fact that a number of bays at the beginning are not gone around, but are gone through. The race started on the land formerly known as Mechanics Bay, then went over the land bridge that cuts off most of Judges Bay from the sea, then past Hobson Bay. I would have liked to have seen the course go around Hobson Bay. That would have sorted out the corporate whingers doin’ it for The Children from the hardcore athletes.

Back on the course, the next bay was Okahu bay. This was marked by the crunch of plastic cups after a water stop and a line of people waiting to go to the toilet. That’s just silly. Go to the toilet before or after, but don’t go during. But then, people were stopping and buying fast food and others were smoking afterwards, so it’s not really all that surprising.

Around past Bastion Point, and on to Mission Bay, where the first hose ho stood spraying the runners and walkers with her garden hose. Some hose hos were good, in that they sprayed only about half the road, but one old bastard had his hose going across most of the width of the road, meaning that an impromptu wet t-shirt extravaganza took place.

Then there were the mothers with prams. Those three-wheel off-road prams, that, like those 4 Wheel Drive vehicles that never make if off sealed road, will never make it off pavement. Mothers pushing babies or small children in these prams were the most violent and unpleasant thing about the entire event. My heels were whacked on many occasions by the front wheel of one of these prams. The worst bit was when there’d be a large group of pram-wielding mothers all in a row. When faced with them, passing became a tactical manoeuvre. I’d like to see a separate race for the mothers with prams.

Next was Kohimarama Beach, and even more hose hos, then finally around the corner and there was a large banner proclaiming “FINISH”. Somewhere the Venga Boys played. I tally-ho’d off to the finish line, handed my slip to the time keeper and made it in 99 minutes.

If I sucked and didn’t believe in giving free publicity to any company (like the only good publicity is paid publicity), I’d refrain from mentioning the sponsor, but as I don’t suck I shall.

At the finish line I received a nice cold carton of Milo (the ready made stuff, not the powder) and a Kit Kat bar, courtesy of Nestle. I sat down in the sun and nursed my aching feet (my shoes were too small) and got a bit of life back in my arse.

Then off to a service station for a cold non-milk-based beverage, then on to the bus back to the city. The walk from the bus depot back to my car was the hardest, as the two blisters on my feet seemed to be hurting even more.

But I got home, had a shower, then enjoyed a celebratory lunch with my brother.

And you know what the best part was? It was for the children (pronounced “choowdrin”), apparently.

Almost two months later my “Certificate of Merit” showed up. The best part of it is that it shows that I was placed 502nd in the women’s under-25 age group. This slightly alarms me as I am not under 25.