My motivation for entering the Balmoral Burn, (a 450mtr sprint up an increasingly steep incline), was that having just celebrated a birthday, I would be the youngest in my age category and therefore, if ever there was a time to enter with all odds stacked in my favour, this was it.
The problem however, was that I hadn’t done any training. I mentioned this to Tiago and told him I hadn’t run since June 2014. He said, ‘You should enter anyway, and if I wasn’t going to be interstate, I would come and support you’.
Even though the race was on in 48 hours, he suggested I do some training. ‘At least run up that hill once’. So the day before I gave it a shot. I walked to the bottom of Awaba Street and timed myself running to the top. Only I couldn’t last the distance. It becomes so steep I had to walk and although I picked up the pace at the end, it took me four minutes to run the length of the race.
And that’s pretty shabby. And I know it is because there’s a K-2 race (5-7 year olds) and the child holding the record sprinted to the top in two and a half minutes.
Last night I had pre-race nerves as I was quite convinced I was just going to go out and make a fool of myself.
Alfie was fine. Really looking forward to it. He ran last year and couldn’t wait to line up at the start. His race was before mine. My instructions to him were to position himself at the front to give himself the best advantage of a good start. But he’s very laid back and allows the more competitive people to push in front of him and so he started at the back.
All ended well though with him picking up the pace and finishing 12th in the Yr 3-6 age group.
As he was running I was being summoned to the marshalling area. I don’t know why but instead of running males and females separately, and instead of running our age group on its own, they combined two age groups so there was a range of 20 years in my race. The older competitors were called to the starting line first so I found myself at the back – just like the little guy.
Never mind. I knew I wasn’t in with a chance and all I wanted to do was finish.
And off went the starter’s gun and we were away. They don’t call this the horror hill for nothing. It starts off on a bit of an uphill battle that isn’t too bad but as you run along the incline increases dramatically. At one point I did have to stop and walk which sounds ridiculous given this race is only just over 400mtrs.
As the crowds increased towards the finish line I didn’t want to be seen doing the walk of shame so I picked up the pace and jogged towards the finish line.
As I charged over the line I was suddenly surrounded by a wall of cameramen and photographers taking my photo. I couldn’t believe there was so much interest in me crossing the finish line. But then I heard people saying, ‘Well done, Prime Minister’, and I turned around and there was our PM, Tony Abbott. I had no idea he was at the event, let alone racing with me.
He shook my hand and congratulated me and I said, ‘I just beat you!’ And he said, ‘You did too; you had a very good burst at the end’. And then we chatted for a while and he was very humble and friendly and full of smiles.
I asked him if he would mind having a photo with the little guy and he said, ‘Of course’, and he crouched down to Alfie’s height and Drew took the photo. Then he had to run back down the hill to the starting line where he gave a speech and handed out awards to the winners.
Then we saw Phil Kearns who is an ex-Wallaby. The Balmoral Burn only exists because of Kearns. Back in October 2005, Kearns was in his car in the driveway of his home and accidentally reversed over his 19-month old daughter, Andie. During her lengthy stay in hospital, his daughter was greatly assisted by the Humpty Dumpty Foundation.
After Andie came home from hospital, Kearns, feeling greatly indebted to the help and assistance he received from the Humpty Dumpty Foundation, wondered what he could do to raise awareness for the Foundation. He came up with the idea of a charity run up Awaba Street in Mosman. The event that has grown every year is now in its 15th year and has raised millions of dollars for the Foundation.
After our races we watched the wheelchair race which makes you realise if it’s difficult to run up on your legs, how much more difficult would it be to push yourself up that hill using your arms. And there was even a tiny little boy who completed the race and he was being applauded from the bottom of the hill to the top.
A favourite race of mine is the pet and owner race where dogs of all shapes and sizes run or dawdle up the hill. While there were some standout performers, the best sight to see was the child being dragged up the hill by her enthusiastic and very strong pooch.
There is something for everyone at the Balmoral Burn and if you don’t think you can run to the top, there is the ‘No Burn’ event where you can walk.
The Balmoral Burn is an extremely well organised event that sees elite runners, social runners and those who just enjoy participating in a worthwhile cause, compete in a fun and somewhat gruelling challenge that even attracts our PM.
And all funds raised go to the Humpty Dumpty Foundation that is a children’s charity. For more than 25 years the Foundation has been purchasing essential and often life-saving medical equipment for sick and injured children in Paediatric Wards, Neonatal Units, Maternity and Emergency Departments in hospitals across Australia.
And after the ‘Burn’ we had to attend a lunch. We arrived half an hour late and when I walked in the door I said, ‘Sorry we’re late; I was just with the Prime Minister’.