I was curious to see how fast I might be able to complete a marathon by walking the flats and uphills, and jogging the downhills. So I mapped out a course using MapMy Run and set out. The course took me from St Leonards station up the Pacific Highway to Gordon, and then down Ryde Rd to the Lane Cove National Park. It went through the park along Riverside Drive, up Grosvenor Rd to the highway at Roseville, through Roseville village shops, along Addison Avenue past the primary school and then to Eastern Valley Way. It followed that to Edinburgh Rd, to Northbridge past the Shore School playing fields, down Cliff Drive to Tunks Park, up to Cammeray, back through Crows Nest and down to Waverton. From Waverton a circuit of Balls Head, back up Crows Nest Rd to the Highway and ended back near the station. 42.2km in total.
It was fairly hilly, but all on roads and footpaths, so I was expecting it to be faster than a normal 40km bushwalk.
It was indeed faster. It took 5 hours and 40 minutes, including buying drinks at Roseville and Cammeray. A bushwalk on technical single track and normal “sharp” hills would take 7 – 9 hours, so this was definitely faster than that. To be honest, it was a bit slower than I’d hoped (or fantasized). I really thought that something less than 5 hours would be doable.
Now at least I have a baseline time, something I can try to improve on next time I do that distance. I think that maybe regular marathons like the Sydney Marathon or the Cities Marathon are run over flatter courses, and that would have to make a difference.
My dream would be to be able to complete a recognised marathon in under 4:30. That seems to be the mimimum qualification standard for lots of ultra marathons, like the GNW100’s. Which seems a bit odd, given that in some ways compared to an ultra, a regular marathon is something of a sprint. I know, for instance, that I can make the GNW 100km distance in very close to, if not under the cut off time, and yet am a long way off a sub 4:30 marathon. Anyway, I would love to give <4:30 a crack.