Focus on a race Interview

Sutherland Half Marathon : In the heart of the Australian bush

07 Jun 2012 06:00
Jean-Loup Fenaux

§staticmap(9846,4,450,250)Hello, on August 18th 2012, you’ll be organizing the Sutherland Half Marathon. Can you tell us where it is located?

This annual event will be conducted in the Royal National Park, south of Sydney, Australia along the beautiful, historic Lady Carrington Drive.

How old is the race and why was it created in the first place?

The club has been conducting the race for over 40 years and during that time it has attracted a wide range of athletes from beginners to the very elite. It is also a family event with other distances conducted on the same day for younger runners and runners who prefer shorter distances.

What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?

It is an out and back course running along what used to be a road for horse and carriage in decades gone by, but is now like a fire trail. Lady Carrington Drive runs alongside a river and is home to large number of Australian native wildlife such as lyre birds, peacocks, wallabies, kangaroos, black cockatoos, echidnas, goannas and more! The track is undulating.

Credit : Sutherland Half Marathon
How many runners do you expect on the day of the race? What type of runners do you plan to attract?

Our field size is relatively small which is nice for beginner and family runners but also safer for elite runners. We have had up to 500 runners on the start line before but expect around 400 runners on the day of which 200 will line up for the half marathon.

Do you organize other races during the Weekend? If so, on what distances?

Every Saturday afternoon between mid March and end of August, we conduct races over 1k, 2k, 3k, 5k & 10k at various locations around the National Parks and roads in southern Sydney. This is called our Winter Series in which the members race against their own handicap as well as each other.

Awards are given at the end of the Winter Series for those who improved the most over the season and to those who placed consistently on a point score system. This handicap system is unique to our club and has encouraged many athletes of varying standard and experience over the years. Our members also have the option of running just with the club at our local races or can also represent the club at state events in attempt to gain selection to National titles.

Credit : Sutherland Half Marathon
At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?

Really it’s anyone’s guess! We’ve had beautiful, warm, sunny spring days for this event and we’ve had very, wet, cool days for the event. Sydney is just finishing winter at this time of the year so come prepared for temperatures of between 15-23 degrees – either wet or sunny.

Have you planned festivities around the half-marathon?

We have other races on the same day over 1k, 2k, 3k, 5k & 10k. Raffles and lucky door prizes are also drawn whilst participants relax and enjoy a sausage sizzle and picnic in the grounds of the Royal National Park at Audley near the river. There are cash prizes for male and female winners of the half marathon and all participants in the half marathon receive a finishers’ medal. Trophies are also awarded to place getters in the 10k & half marathon.

The race finished, what advice would you give a runner who has never been to the Royal National Park before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing?

The Royal National Park has a visitor’s center at Audley just near where the race is conducted. They will provide maps of other walking tracks and other activities available in the surrounding National Park. The entrance to the National Park is just 50 minutes drive from the center of Sydney city where visitors can enjoy more of our iconic attractions including Sydney Opera House, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay and more.

Credit : Sutherland Half Marathon
For those who like to camp, it might be a bit chilly at this time of the year but permits can be purchased by contacting the Royal National Park at the website. Information about camping and other travelling to and from the National Park can be found on their website .

There are also some beautiful freshwater rock pools and fabulous views along some other tracks in the Royal National Park, worth checking out on a different day to your race – perhaps for a recovery walk?

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the Sutherland Half Marathon?

If you are a novice, intermediate or elite runner, this challenging half marathon is unique in its setting, offering all runners a magical, personal experience in the heart of the true Australian bush and is conducted by experienced officials who are also runners themselves.

Interview with Sally Luxton, publicity officer for Sutherland District Athletics Club, in Sydney, Australia.