Balmoral Burn, 2014

The thing about Alfie, is that he likes to involve himself in so many things.  Our community hosts lots of events and in the weeks leading up to each event, signs appear in the streets letting everyone know it’s time to sign up.  Alfie reads those signs.

The starting point of the race, looking up the hill to the finish line (that you can't see)

The starting point of the race, looking up the hill to the finish line (that you can’t see)

For weeks he’s been on the countdown for the Balmoral Burn.  Have you heard of it?  Have you experienced it?  Did you survive it?

Bib on and ready to race.  Big screens show you races in action

Bib on and ready to race. Big screens show you races in action

I’ve never entered myself in ‘The Burn’ and before now, had never even spectated.

Alfie at the back of the pack

Alfie at the back of the pack

The Balmoral Burn was created 14 years ago by local resident, Phil Kearns who is one of Australia’s best known and most-admired ex-Wallaby players.    He represented Australia in rugby union 67 times and was Captain of the Wallaby’s on 10 of those occasions.  Kearns created an event where one of Sydney’s steepest streets is closed to traffic and becomes a running track where for 420mtrs (460 yards) competitors race from the bottom to the top of the hill.

Marshalling area

Marshalling area for Alfie’s race

The aim of the Balmoral Burn is to raise money for the Humpty Dumpty Foundation, a charity that donates vital equipment like respirators and humidicribs to children’s hospitals.  At this years event alone, more than $70,000 was raised for this charity.

The start of Alfie's race.  You can't see him - he always manages to position himself at the very back

The start of Alfie’s race. You can’t see him – he always manages to position himself at the very back

The Balmoral Burn has something for everyone with races for school children, corporate teams, disabled athletes, parents with prams, and there’s even an ‘owner and pet’ race where you can chase your dog up the hill.

Alfie's race

Alfie’s race

This year more than 11,000 people ‘did the burn’, some of those who entered were highly competitive, and others; they were there for a day of fun and to raise money for a great cause.

A cheer-squad-band at the half-way point

A cheer-squad-band at the half-way point

The night before the race, Alfie and I were at Vivid.  Then we came home and ended up going to bed late.  My mobile rang at 3.30am and it was Arabella who was on her way home from the night club she’s been working at and this was her final shift.  (Thank God that’s over).  ‘Mum, I’m in a cab and I’m five minutes away but I forgot my key.  Can you get up and let me in?’ Standard.

Enthusiastic support from the sidelines

Enthusiastic support from the sidelines

I got up and waited and no, she was about 15-minutes away.  By the time I went back to bed I was fully awake and unable to get back to sleep.  Sleep must have hit me at about 6am and when I finally woke I had 30-minutes before the start of Alfie’s race.  Honestly – no time for a shampoo and blow-dry!

A runner's ribbon, a sugary drink and my bacon and egg roll with the yolk on the napkin rather than the roll

A runner’s ribbon, a sugary drink and my bacon and egg roll with the yolk on the napkin rather than the roll

I don’t know how we did it but we made it.  After sticking his bib onto him I raced him around to the marshalling area.  The barricades were closed but an official quickly re-opened them for us.  He made it but he was at the back of the pack!  Standard.  I left him at the starting line (in the back row) of his Years 3-6 race and hurried up the hill to the halfway point where I hoped to cheer him on.

Enjoying breakfast after the race

Enjoying breakfast after the race

A 420mtr race doesn’t sound daunting and from the starting line, it doesn’t look terribly challenging.  But after the first few metres the incline rapidly increases by as much as 30% and that’s where you feel ‘the burn’.  Over the 420mtrs (1400ft), the course rises by 70mtrs (230ft).  Many are unable to run the entire course, mostly because the closer you come to the finish line, the steeper it becomes.

A runner's reward

A runner’s reward

Alfie managed to run the whole way, even in stiff denim shorts he had insisted on wearing and with no breakfast because there wasn’t time.  As I wasn’t at the finish line I have no idea of his final result but I’m guessing he finished in the middle of the pack.  And he loved it!  And is keen to do it again.

Looking up towards the finish line

Looking up towards the finish line

We stayed for the rest of the races; watching just down from the finish line.  We saw some inspirational performances from elite runners (current world champions, Australian champions, Olympians) who gave it their all to the point of one even collapsing on the finish line.

Elite female runners

Elite female runners

We saw the para-burn race where world champions and ex-Olympians battled the course in wheelchairs and because of the incline, they had to traverse the course rather than attack it head-on.  The strength in the arms of these wheelchair riders is staggering.

The course - it's steeper than it looks

The course – it’s more steep than it looks

Phil Kearns won his race in the male, 40-49 age group.  But he was entered in another race that’s become a bit of a tradition.  Every year, one of Kearns’ personal trainers takes up the challenge of fireman-carrying Phil all the way up the course.  Not only is this incredible in itself, but the personal trainers tend to weigh 70kgs (155lbs) yet the man they’re going to carry weighs around 104kgs (230lbs).  It doesn’t seem possible.  I saw the personal trainer before the race and both his knees had been heavily strapped and I’m not surprised.

An unbelievable effort

An unbelievable effort

And yes, there's a dachshund in the race!

And yes, there’s a dachshund in the race – owner has the red T-shirt

Alfie and I watched this race and were transfixed.  As the course entered its steepest section, the trainer stopped now and then and put Phil to the ground for a few second’s rest before carrying him again.  There was clapping and cheering from the spectators right along the course, not only because they were witnessing an incredible feat but also to acknowledge Kearns for the event he created that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for medical equipment for children in need.

Like I said, his knees were taped

Like I said, his knees were taped

Staggering to the finish line

Staggering to the finish line

And as we walked home, Alfie asked me if I would ‘do the burn’ next year.  I promised him that I would.  You have to be in it, not only to prove to yourself that you can make it to the top, but to join in on raising money for the Humpty Dumpty Foundation.

Almost across the finish line

Almost across the finish line

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  1. Wow, that Archie is a legend and so is Phil Kearns. There is no way in hell I could run up that hill!

  2. You need one if those combination locks in your door so all you of is punch in a number and the door opens!
    Sounds like a great race for a fantastic cause, way-to-go Alfie!

  3. Hooray for Alfie and the other runners who raised monies for a great cause.

  4. You’re an amazing Mum, Charlie! Alfie is blessed to have you! $70,000?!?! Wow, that’s terrific!! That’s a job well done. xo

  5. Very cook, Charlie and huge kudos to your son, for wanting to participate and having a great time while he did it! All for a great cause!

  6. What a fun event and for a great cause too! Lace up those shoes, Charlie 🙂

  7. Alfie is such an outdoor kid, and this race sounds like fun. Such a good cause too, and that’s a lot of money raised. Hurray for that lovely lil champion you have Momma.

  8. Oh, the things we do for our kids. Waking up in the middle of the night to let them. Taking them to all of these early morning events. You’re awesome Charlie!

  9. Alfie is a real joiner. Fantastic that he’d want to do this run and I’m impressed you’ve agreed to do next years event. GG x

  10. Congratulations on having a son with such a dedication to great causes like this one. And good luck on your participation next year. It sounds like a lot of pre-training is needed.

  11. You promised him you would? And then you documented it? 😉 Charlie, you’re a wonder. As is Alfie. And Phil Kearns! 🙂

  12. Go Alfie! Quite the sportsman! Now about miss Arabella waking you at 3am. You mean to tell me I have at least 18 years of this?!

  13. This looks like so much fun and what a great way to support a cause! Alfie has truly been bit by the running bug. I predict the Boston marathon in his future!!

  14. No escape now Charlie, you’ve put that promise out there for us all to see! I’m sure Alfie will be an Olympian one day- if some competitiveness seeps in. Otherwise he’ll definitely be one of those amazing guys selflessly doing it for all for charities like these ones. Now to work on combining the two! 🙂 xox

  15. Holy cow. Just walking up the hill gives me the heebie jeebies. I’m very impressed with your Alfie and his athletic challenges. You must be incredibly proud of him. Next year I want to be at the finish line to cheer you on.

  16. Wow – what an event. I don’t think I would like to run it, and I enjoy running (just not up very steep hills)! Good on Alfie, he is a constant source of inspiration with what he gets up to and signs up for. I’m glad you managed to get there in time even if it was a rush!

  17. My legs were hurting just reading that. There’s no escaping next year Charlie now you’ve put it out there:)

  18. Alfie is a trooper! Good on him! I don’t know if I could do it, but I would def try for a good cause. We do some steep hikes here so maybe it would be ok (she says)

  19. What a wonderful little guy you have there, Charlie.

    Phil Kearns created this event to raise money for the hospital after unfortunately running over his 19 month old daughter in the driveway of his home. His daughter made a full recovery after which he launched a driveway safety campaign
    campaign and the Balmoral Burn.

    • I do remember hearing about that terribly sad accident. It’s fantastic though that out of such a tragedy, Phil came up with a wonderful community event that raises money for an important charity.

  20. Wow – you are braver than I am Charlie. Good for you saying you will run it next year.
    I love charitable events.
    Have a happy day.
    😉 Mandy xo

  21. Best Mom of the Year Award goes to you Charlie. You are seriously great. 🙂 Love the spectators at the half way mark, I’ve taken note to use that to rally on my buddies doing whatever the next version of Mud Run, Tough Mudder is. 🙂 Love your enthusiasm and that you throw yourself in and commit for next year. Have a good rest of week. Cheers, Anna

  22. What a deceptively challenging hill! I was imagining the burn while I read this and now I think I’ll go for a second cup of coffee instead of exercising today, lol;) Good for you taking Alfie after so little sleep, that boy has a lifetime of memories for all the racing, swimming and otherwise you’ve got him in! I love to see someone that young with so much passion for exercise. You’ve been so active, it’s inspired me to try running again.. maybe I should tape my old knees!

  23. I just knew that you would end up doing this! Alfie has your number. 😉 Congrats to him, and look forward to hearing your race experiences next year. Running up a major hill like that is no joke.

  24. What an amazing kiddo!!

  25. That race is crazy! We used to live on the top of the hill and only once walked up it. It was hideous and I can’t imagine what a challenge it would be running up it!

    this looks like a blast)))))) !!! X

  27. Great job for Alfie and all the kids that ran this charity race and to all of the crazy moms that had to get everything ready at the crack of dawn so they could be there on time. I think the key pad idea is brilliant for your family as well. If I was woken up by my kid who works late at night I would not be a happy camper.

  28. Man Alfie surprises me with all the stuff he does… I might have to go back and read your whole blog in between semesters to see what achievements the rest of your family has done 🙂

  29. I hope you never get tired of hearing from me how remarkable I find Alfie. I think it’s just wonderful that he is so willing and eager to engage in activities that others three times his age would shy away from. He really seems to follow his own beat, and I can only imagine how far this is going to take him in life. It’s a shame his interests have to start so early in the morning. 🙂 And what a wonderfully interesting charity event. I’m just impressed with every aspect of the Balmoral Burn. I’ll be waiting to see how you do next year!

  30. I totally believe Alfie has a bright future. The strong will to challenge himself and join the public events like that at HIS age is amazing. I have 6 and 8 year olds and they don’t seem to show any interest in sports besides swimming… it’s wonderful that he likes to keep himself busy. I’m very proud of him! Great job Alfie!

  31. What a fun thing to do and for such a great cause!

  32. Aw, Alfie is adorable. I love that he’s up for any challenge!


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