Melbourne Marathon Slow Wobbles


Running is growing in popularity here in Australia. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics between 2005 and 2012 participation in running and jogging almost doubled. The growth of parkrun in Australia reflects this trend. parkruns are popping up all over the place. I particularly noticed this during our recent trip to Western Australia. Twelve months prior there had been one parkrun in travelling distance of my daughter’s house, now there are six. parkrun in Tasmania has gone from one to three in less than three years and we are a small state both geographically and population (515,000).

This week Pauly sent me a link to some stats from the US about average finishing times for the key running distances. They look like this:

  • 5km: women 33:43, men, 29:47
  • 10km: women 1:06:22, men 57:03
  • Half Marathon (21.1km): women 2:21:22, men 2:02:55
  • Marathon (42.2km): women 4:44:18, men 4:19:27

According to the article there are slightly more women running in events than men, with the marathon being the exception with more men.


Why am writing about this? This week I’ve had what I call the slow marathon wobbles. Melbourne Marathon has a cut off time of seven hours. Seven hours? Pretty generous really. It’s a big city, roads get closed, people and business are disrupted; seven hours seems more than reasonable for the streets to be devoted to us crazy running people.

But there’s a but

If runners don’t get to a certain point on the course by a certain time they are turned around to finish pretty much half of the marathon doing laps of a small under 2km course – round and round and round. This is where the slow wobbles came in. If a runner is estimated to be an over 5:00:00 finisher they have a band slapped around their wrist and off they go to do the laps. The main reason is so that the roads can be opened. Understandable.

I am a 5:12:00 marathon finisher. The wheels fell off in January at the 23km mark. My marathon didn’t look anything like it should’ve done from the way my training went.  My previous post outlines this in brutal honesty.

Back to those average times. Here are mine:

  • 5km: happy pace somewhere in the 26:00 range. PB 24:37
  • 10kms: happy pace about 1:00:00. PB 51:57
  • Half Marathon (21.1km): happy pace about 2:15:00. PB 2:01:56
  • Marathon (42.2): only one, 5:12:31

According to the Lazy Runner if I can run 10km in 1:00:00 I should be able to do a half marathon in 2:16:00. I can. I have run faster than this on four occasions.  I’ve run 11 half marathons in total but don’t always run for time, most I run for fun!  Between now and the Marathon I have three half marathons to run.  I’ll be aiming to run these at at least 6:00 minute per km pace as training runs.

Lazy Runner also says that if I can run 10km in 1:00:00 and a half marathon in 2:16:00 I can also run a marathon in 4:44:00. I haven’t done this yet. But I hold great hope in her estimations. 4:44:00 would mean no band, no being turned around and no laps at Melbourne Marathon.  It’s hard for me to think of times because really all I want to do is run all the way and finish.  If I did have to do laps and I still ran all the way then I’d be over the moon with happiness!  But perhaps it’s time to pull up my big girl compression pants and have a go!


My goal pace is 6:30 minutes per km.  This will get those 42.kms done in 4:34:00.  I will aim to see 6:30 on my watch and if I do have to slow for parts it will still mean I’m on target to be sub 5:00:00.  A good plan I think.  For the Great Ocean Road Half Marathon (23kms), with all the stops for photos and to update my facebook I ran 6:27 minutes per km average pace.  I can do this.

The first step to achieving this is to stop doubting myself. Now that I’ve purged the demons from Marathon Number One, here on in I’m going to believe in myself and when those beliefs get wobbly I’m going to believe my beautiful running friends and the awesome Lazy Runner – they say I can do it.  I’m going to run Melbourne Marathon on the full course and avoid the laps. I am. I will. It is my firm intention to give it my best shot.

Three months to go.  I can do this.  More importantly I WANT to do this badly.

Happy running 🙂

PS Pauly and I are lighting one of the bonfires on the farm tomorrow evening (gum trees are notorious for falling down and we’ve got quite a few that he’s tractored up into mounds, others have to be felled because they become unsound and need to be removed for safety).  It’ll be a night of laying to rest some worries, fears and flinging a few monkeys into those flames.


31 thoughts on “Melbourne Marathon Slow Wobbles

  1. As demoralising as those laps can be, at the end of the day, a finish is still a finish (or that’s what I keep telling myself at least!) I didn’t realise about those estimated times… Really makes me want to try again to at least get around 5hr!!

    1. I thought of you as I wrote this and hoped that you wouldn’t see this as me being critical. You did an amazing marathon especially given the ankle issues you had and everything else that went wrong. It comes down to personal goals and mine is to sneak in just sub-5:00. Own race own pace is one of my favourite mantras. If it was any other course we wouldn’t have to even think about laps. We could go the full seven hours if we needed to and not worry about being diverted. Finishing makes us a marathoner regardless of time xxx

  2. This time in 3 months we will have finished Marathon number 2 😄 we will have 2 finishers medals to add to our bling and you will have a PB under 5 hours. I have no doubt in my mind that you are going to nail it 😄 but most of all we are going to have a great time doing it 😄 Bring on those long chatty Friday runs with my sole sister, they are awesome xo

    1. Thanks Louise. I needed to get this all out of my system. I’ve spent time studying the course and working out timing. I’m feeling ok about aiming for 6:30 km pace. I don’t know how you run so slowly with me and then go out and smoke it, I really don’t. The more I think about it the more honoured I am that you are so happy to drag me along every Friday. Thanks for your awesome support and encouragement xxx

  3. I had no idea of these cut off times. It’s very interesting when you stop to think about it. Not sure, but I think I’d need longer than 7 hours! I hope all goes well and I’m glad I’m not the only one that thinks writing about things helps get it out of the system. Enjoy your run😊

    1. Thanks Debbie. Other marathons don’t have that alternative course. But this one is the biggy to do here in Australia and the oldest one too (I think I have that right). Next year we have Gold Coast in our sights and there won’t be that pressure. Time doesn’t matter, it’s finishing that makes us marathoners. In fact those of us who are out there for longer really earn that medal!

      1. If I can build up to this anyone can. In the Lazy Runner’s chapter on marathon training she says that anyone can run a marathon with the right preparation. I love her no frills approach. She takes the marathon from off that pedestal that so many of us have it on and makes it real and doable for an ordinary runner like me 🙂

      2. Marie Bean is our Australian Lazy Runner 🙂 She even does talks at libraries and things. A friend of mine works in a Gold Coast Library and she’s just done some talks there.

      3. OK thanks, that’s the one I’ve just bought. I loved reading the first chapter last night in bed and found myself agreeing and chuckling along with it. Should be a great read\ and very useful.

  4. Sounds like a good idea to fling those negative thoughts away. They use up energy. At what point does the band get put on? My guess is that you have those first time wiggles and wobbles out of your system.

    1. Thanks Sue 🙂 I think flinging them off in a symbolic way will help with the positive groove. A band for the bonfire? It’ll just be Pauly and I and the cows not even any marshmellows! We recently did some burning of a pile and the girls loved it. They backed up to the embers on the cold nights. It was eerie seeing their silhouettes against the glow and smoke. We’ve had -4°C over night so I’m sure they’ll appreciate it tonight.

      1. The scene of the cows hovered around in the firelight makes me smile. Yes it’s getting nippy there now obviously. I hope the process is a cathartic one for you Annie.

      2. Thanks Sue, it was cathartic. That was the exact word I used to explain it to a friend last night. It was a gorgeous night too – freezing with a clear sky and a new moon.

      3. So glad to hear it Annie! May great things come your way, in the race and in life. you deserve it!
        We are now booked for Australia/Tasmania. Yippee! 🙂

  5. I needed all these inspirational sayings today! I know I’d need longer than seven hours! I don’t know if I’m more impressed with the faster or the slower runners – it takes a lot of dedication to know you’ll be on your feet for 5 + hours!

    1. I agree Sarah 🙂 the longer finishers are usually the less experienced runners (not always I know, but often). I think they are all so awesome…hang on a minute…I’m a slow marathoner so I must be awesome too hehe. I hope those motivational sayings hit the spot for you xxx

  6. Um, yeah, being forced to run in circles would be deflating!! I’m still at 5k because a lot of the 10k+ races around here have the dreaded 16min/mile cutoff. Then you’re forced to board “The Bus” and get returned back to the start line. I’m so slow, all I have to do is cave to walking and I’ll be a passenger on that bus 😦 No thanks, I don’t want the stab to my ego!

    1. That’s a harsh cut off. Many of ours are 10km run or walk events which makes it a lot more inclusive. I’ve made peace with the laps but I’m going to train hard and aim for the full course.

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