By Adrienne Knell
It started just like any other Sunday at the tan: everyone meeting at the usual Rotunda. Although this time, bags weren’t put down and K9s weren’t attached to chairs.
Shortly after 8:30am we packed up and took the short walk to the Pillars of Wisdom. What many didn’t know was that in just over an hour it would be a flurry of yellow shirts making a sprint finish along the very same path.
Arriving at the Clock Tower, the puppies got used to their new cage tethering spot and people eagerly checked the weather app to ensure that the rain was going to hold off for us.
After our Welcome to Country, the highly anticipated teams for the handicap were announced. VIPs met with their team mates and were put through a delightful warm up which provided insight into the Wednesday night strength class.
Then it was time.
Pairings were done. The BBQ was sizzling away in the background. And for many, they learned where the official start line of the tan began.
Haylee and Jeff were the first to set off on the 3.89km journey and were sent off with a roar from the crowd as the first count down was completed. Ness took off shortly after with Maegan, Sharon and Catherine.
Brooke was the third to head out on the track and had Amir and Sarah hot on her heels. Peggy had a short wait and felt the nerves building on the start line before she took off with Marie and Nicki with some PBs to smash.
The next moments were a hot mess at the start line with 4 competitors all flying off within 3 minutes of each other. Francois took off with powerhouse guides Nat and Sarah N knowing that just a minute behind him, new member, Bill, would be facing off with champion group Simon, Lara and Michelle.
Kevin was off in the next minute leaving Andrew with a two minute wait at the start line. Andrew and Emily were eager to set off, and Rhiannon had a strategy to use her Jingle Bells and Christmas cheer to those they would pass.
One person remained. Adam was cool, calm and collected as his guides took the time to warm up. A hill sprint here, a stretch there. Finally, 23 minutes after the initial gun, Chris, Jen, Sami and Adam were off and they had their work cut out for them.
All that was left at the start line was the time keeper and the paparazzi. Suddenly, around the corner came a sea of yellow shirts. It was impossible to tell who had the lead and the blur of yellow got bigger and bigger before out of the haze was Hazel & Josie guiding Bill to a strong win. Closely behind was Brooke with strong support from Monica and Jacinta and hot on her heels was Kevin with strong duo Tanya and Cayla.
And then it was done. There were many out of breath competitors showing that everyone had given it everything they had. But mostly, what I saw were a lot of smiles and comradery. Participants reported that there was overwhelming support for their friends out on the Tan track, and even though it’s cliché to say it, we were all winners out there. And now, we all have PBs to smash, a trophy to win and a title to defend.
I’d really like to thank everyone so much for giving it a go and getting behind the handicap. It was a wonderful day and I’m so proud to be part of Achilles.
Will – Handicap Time: 36 min 48 sec. Personal Time: 21 min 48 sec.
Brooke – Handicap Time: 37 min 12 sec. Personal Time: 33 min 12 sec.
Kevin - Handicap Time: 37 min 17 sec. Personal Time: 21 min 17 sec.
Andrew - Handicap Time: 37 min 54 sec. Personal Time: 21 min 17 sec.
Simon - Handicap Time: 38 min 26 sec. Personal Time: 23 min 26 sec.
Amir - Handicap Time: 39 min 22 sec. Personal Time: 31 min 22 sec.
Adam - Handicap Time: 39 min 28 sec. Personal Time: 16 min 28 sec.
Francois - Handicap Time: 39 min 34 sec. Personal Time: 25 min 34 sec.
Haylee - Handicap Time: 39 min 42 sec. Personal Time: 39 min 42 sec.
Peggy - Handicap Time: 40 min 53 sec. Personal Time: 28 min 53 sec.
Ness - Handicap Time: 41 min 16 sec. Personal Time: 40 mins 16 sec.
Our mission is to enable people from all walks of life, including those with physical impairments, to enjoy the health giving benefits of walking and running in a supportive, social and encouraging environment.