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31st Frankston to Portsea 54.7Km / 34 milesHeld Sunday April 6th 2003 near Melbourne, Australia
All info provided by the Race Director : Kevin Cassidy (email@example.com)
2003 Results - 6th April 2003
It was 5.30 am and quite cold when I was rudely awoken by the alarm. Gathering in the early morning atmosphere at Frankston's Davey Street corner, the incomparable Max Gibbs made an appearance and announced that he was unable to run due to his presence being required at his sister's wedding a little later in the day. As Max has a habit of paying his five dollar entry fee in as many small coins as possible, I was spared the agony of yet another envelope full of two cent pieces!
Local resident, Peter Armistead, fresh from his excellent third position at last November's Colac Six Day Race, was our "guest starter" and his mumbled utterance of the word "GO" saw nine of us hit the road in anticipation of a warm sweaty day with 24 degrees and sunny skies the forecast.
The Frankston to Portsea course never seems to produce fast times. In my 14 year association with this event, I have come to the mind numbing conclusion that the constant undulations in the first half, although not difficult in the early stages, finally take their toll as the kilometres click by.
Mike Wheatley and Mal Grimmett pulled away from the rest of the field and stayed together all the way to Portsea. With given names of Mike and Mal, they were soon dubbed the "Leyland Brothers" ..they didn't quite "travel all over the countryside", but they sure did travel all they way down the Mornington Peninsula at a much more swift speed than the rest of us. A tie for first place meant sharing the traditional bottle of wine. Mike claimed that as Mal was a non drinker, he would be happy to consume the contents and let Mal have the empty bottle!
This course dishes up a bit of everything and at around 18km, the thump, thump, thump of that horrible repetitive noise that teenagers loosely call music was echoing across the paddocks from an old, run down looking abode with a huge sign displaying the words "Santa's Tree Farm". Santa had obviously gone to the North Pole for the day and left three punk like kids alone to terrorise the local area. Running past the Dromana Sunday Market provided the interesting spectacle of highly frenzied individuals obsessed with searching for that imaginary sense of inner satisfaction that can only be achieved by thinking that they have scored a bargain. The sight of these people doing such a thing voluntarily is one I will not forget for a long time.
The journey continued through the bayside towns all the way to the bottom of the Peninsula. Rob McConnochie held off David Spencer in a sprint finish for third place. Rob's presence maintained the South African flavour that has permeated this run over the last four years, he even had a crew of expatriates at the finish cheering him on. Geoff Hook and Peter Gray also provided a close finish with barely a minute between them. Geoff, wearing long red socks and a fluorescent yellow t-shirt looked as if he was on his way to the annual "Worst Dressed Awards", in fact, if he had managed to climb up a tree, he would have looked like an overgrown rosella.
One by one, runners slowly arrived at the finish line at the gates of the old Portsea Army Camp to be met by Ross Shilston. Ross was one of the inaugural runners of this course back in 1973. These days, Ross occupies his weekends as a keen fan of both rugby league and fine arts. A diverse combination to say the least
At the rear of the field, but not giving in, was Kristian Bardsley. If that name sounds familiar to you, then you are obviously a fan of the Australian Football League. Kristian played 60 games with Saint Kilda during the 90's and has the distinction of having been knocked unconscious by the legendary Gary Ablett. A friend of David Spencer's, Kristian had managed a "couple of 20km runs" as preparation. With little other distance running experience, he slugged it out to the finish alongside the biggest group of supporters I have ever seen. I think Kristian had brought along every living relative he could find and all their neighbours as well. They pulled out blankets and baskets of food at the finish and soon had a set up that strongly resembled the Teddy Bear's Picnic.
As is the tradition, all finishers received their blocks of chocolate and the more recently introduced "commemorative mirror". It was the purchase of these mirrors that provided me with an incident I shall never forget. I have to admit to being a cheapskate by visiting the "$2 Shop" during the previous week to stock up on mirrors. I don't mean any disrespect to this particular chain of stores but they do seem to attract a certain breed of customers. There I was standing in the check out queue with my arms laden with mirrors while a pimply faced teenager who had obviously invested heavily in a large container of hair gel, took forever to change the roll of paper in the cash register. Standing in front of me in the queue was a flannelette and moccasin clad woman with at least six hyperactive kids pulling on her legs and grizzling loudly. Finally she lost all patience and let fly at her brood, belting them over their heads and screaming for all to hear .. "IF YOU'SE LOT DON'T BEHAVE, THEN NONE OF YOU'SE AINT BE COMMIN' BACK 'ERE NO MORE". This was an assault on the English language that matched the one she was inflicting on her unfortunate little tykes. The check out attendant stepped back in fright while I dived behind the counter, fearful that my head may be the next in line to make contact with her furious thrashing. When things had finally calmed down, I gave this irksome lot a fleeting glance and hastened my departure.
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