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A day at the (glbt) races

Mon 14 Mar 2011 In: Events View at NDHA

There's a remakable camaraderie between competitors at the Out Games and it's evident as people assemble for the start of the 5 and 10km road races. There's a mixture of serious runners and lunch hour joggers taking the opportunity to extend themselves. You can tell the serious ones, they know their PBs like they know their birth dates. PBs, by the way, are Personal Best times over a given distance. The officials are efficient, a smattering of gay celebs mix and mingle or stretch their hams. The cheery and helpful officials hand out numbers to be pinned on singlets and old friends gossip and check out the talent. There's a slight cool breeze, especially if you stand in the shade, but the sun is strong and the air fresh and envigorating. Event boss Nigel Jeffcoat calls the competitors to the bstart line and explains the rules and the course. Spectators arrive and stake out positions to cheer their mates on, dressed up for the occasion or hoild supportive banners. The 5km race start The 5km runners spread across the start line, the horn sounds and they head off, 34 generally fit gays and lesbians head around the georgeous Evans Bay parade. They will run as far as Greta Point and turn back, retracing their steps to be cheered and whooped into the finish line. The 10km race start Five minutes later the 10k runners step up to the mark and are sent on their way. They will run the full course, all the way to the bright orange wind needle kinetic sculpture njear the airport, then return. These folks are fit, fit, fit. Now there's a lull... support crews for the competitors, aka boyfriends, girlfriends and some of indeterminent status, chat and sip coffees and sports drinks. Somewhere out of view he runners pound and sweat. Kiwis, Aussies, a smattering of Europeans and North Americans mostly, but a few from Nepal, India, Fiji and even Venezuela add variety and colourful accents. Steve Niblett crosses the finish line Suddenly there's a cheer and whistling and urging shouts as the first runner comes back into view, in seemingly no time at all. Simon Niblett of Wellington is tall, rangy, focussed and sweating like hell. His unofficial time for the 5kms is 20 minutes and 20 seconds. Between gasps for breath he says this is his first competitive race and he expresses his gratitude to the Out Games for giving him the nchance to do so in a supportive setting. He's a fitness runner, having done the Round the Bays 7km course in around 30 minutes, so his time today is damned good. He's stoked. Antony Collis of Canberra crosses the line moments later, second in 21.00. He looks happy. The 10km race start But there's no time to talk as the first of the female 5km competitors is pounding the last few metres. Lara Atkinson is incredibly trim and fit and focussed. Her time, 23.53 seems to surprise her, in a good way. She asks twice for the unofficial time ' "Yes! I'm happy with that! Very!" Amanda Clark of Christchurch follows her in at 25.36. She gets a special cheer from the crowd with a few "Go Christchurch, we love you's" called out from the sidelines. Malcolm Campbell Runners of both sexes (there don't seem to be any trans competitors) are crossing the finish line thick and fast and suddenly the forst of the 10km men is spotted metres from the line. A cheer goes up. He's Malcoilm Campbell of Melbourne (its already clear this is going to be Australia's day) and, like many of today's runners, has that classic distance runners physique, not too tall, slim and mucularly trim. He's had the advantage of having run the course before and was competing alongside a fellow Melbourne harrier which provided extra impetus and drive. His PB is 34.00 but there's no way we can check his time right now as the runners are pouring in, 111 in all in two divisions and the timekeepers are frantically calling numkbers and clicking times ionto an electronic race timer. They're a slick little team, collating information which everyone wants to know and pore over and compare and take home. Now. Not far behind is second place Stuart Kollmorgen, also of Melbourne and the man Campbell has been running alongside for years. Physically they are alike but Kollmorgen is a hyped motormouth, brimming with energy. He feels sure he is close to his PB of 36.20, he runs for a social and participative club, the Frontrunners. And for Collingwood Harriers, his specialty is the race walk and is the World Masters IAAF champion over 10 and 20km and he might just have a small case of 'runners rush.' While he fills me in the first and second place womens 10k runners cross the line but they are gone before I can break away and talk to or photograph them. They are Michaela Holloway of Sydney and Sandy Lee of Auckland. Alastair Cameron The Aussies have dominates, as they might in most sports at the Games but no one seems to worry. Roshan Mohato of Nepal comes in furst in his age group and wins a gold medal for his first serious run ever. NZAF Chair Alastair Cameron looks pumped and everyone's comparing mental notes and congratulation and swapping email addresses. Slowly the athletes drift away, some without their medals which will be awarded later when the opportunities present themselves. Those who were not naturally early risers search out strong coffee and everyone agrees it's been a well-run enjoyable and cometitively worthwhile morning. Jay Bennie - 14th March 2011    

Credit: Jay Bennie

First published: Monday, 14th March 2011 - 9:38am

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