When I drew up the schedule for running a marathon in every state I hesitated when it came to Victoria. There were two obvious choices – Wangaratta, right at the beginning of the Australian running season, or Melbourne, closer to the end of the season. I couldn’t make up my mind. Wangaratta made sense in some respects because a lot can happen over the course of a year and leaving Victoria for last to run Melbourne, with only one month to go before the cutoff for Marathon Maniacs when there was a possibility I could get injured sounded a bit risky. On the other hand though, the temperatures forecast for Wangaratta looked very warm, and there was no easy way to get there other than by road – a drive of 7:30.
My confidence was down. I’d had a go at Caboolture Dusk to Dawn marathon and pulled out at 14km because I wasn’t well and the whole thing was a big struggle. This had been hard to swallow after the success of Punta Arenas and in a moment of doubt I thought perhaps I should abandon the quest for the 13 marathons. I had however already booked my flight to Auckland for 5 March 2016 so with encouragement from Craig decided to go ahead and enter Wangaratta.
For the first time ever in a marathon, I went to Wangaratta in stealth mode. My running friends had been wonderful after Caboolture but I felt I had let them down by pulling out. They were running the segment for UTA50 the same weekend so I just said I had plans for the weekend, and Craig, Verity and I drove to Victoria on the Saturday. It was very hot when we arrived and we went straight to the local oval for bib pickup before having a nice Italian dinner in a local restaurant. We scoped out the course which was two laps, mainly on a cycleway.
The marathon was a really nice event. The course was flat and had a lot of shade. We set off just before dawn and in truth it didn’t really get hot until the very end.
Craig and Verity had a map of the course and popped up all over it with snacks and drinks. There was a lot of support from runners to one another and I used the phrase “You got this”, learned in Punta Arenas, on everyone I passed. Encouraging others made a massive difference to me and kept me focussed on finding the next person to speak to.
I also ran for a time with a fellow who thanked me after for getting him through the tougher section in suburbia. Perhaps the only highlight of that particular section was the fabulous man who stood on his front lawn with a hose and sprayed everyone going past!
The only difficulty I encountered was coming back through the start to commence the second lap. I came in on the tail of the 5km walking event heading out and quickly became lost in a sea of people. Fortunately a keen-eyed volunteer spotted me and yelled for me to run toward her, as the marathon course went a different way for a time!
I really enjoyed the final kilometre and running over the line to see Craig and Verity.
From there we went back to our caravan park and I jumped in the pool. It was tremendous! And then I confessed to my friends what I’d done! And then we drove back home!
Wangaratta Marathon was number 10.