Running: It’s a Family Affair

A few weekends ago, my Dad ran the Sun Run in Sydney. SB, Dad and I ran the very first Sun Run in 2011 – it was also my last race in Sydney as we moved to the UK a few weeks afterwards, so I am really fond of it. It’s a 6.5k route that takes you from Dee Why beach along the coast, finishing up at Manly beach. My Dad has run it every year since.


The UK has some amazingly scenic races, but there is nothing like running along Sydney’s coast first thing in the morning and seeing the sun sparkle on the water. It starts at 6.30 am, and the year I ran it, it was already really hot.  It was the perfect last race in Sydney.


Anyway. My Dad says that he’s not in as good a shape at the moment, and his pace was slower. I asked if it was an easier run because of it, he was very quick to interrupt and say “No!!”.


It turns out then he was younger, my Dad ran a lot. He ran half marathons and ran the City2Surf fairly regularly. For some reason I don’t remember him running when I was a child, and we didn’t talk about it. However, both my brother and I now are super keen (would you have ever guessed?) and it’s really nice to hear his stories: when he was 12 he did a 50mile walk with the Scouts, and he was in the lead. My grandfather drove alongside to him, and my Dad decided to run the last 10 miles or so because, why the heck not? Actually, I feel I should put a disclaimer with this anecdote: please see the asterisk*!


When we were younger (and still now actually) he was always someone who would encourage us to do put our ideas into practice, and more importantly, to stand by our commitments. If ever I wanted to get out of anything, Dad was The Worst person to turn to: he never let us off easy. He was annoyingly alllllll about the solution, and would always present the situation so you ended up thinking it was a good idea to do whatever it was you were trying to get out of.  And then you’d walk away and think “Hang on…. What? Ahh.. Dammit!!”


Now I am a wise old crow, I can see that’s not a bad lesson to learn…. and it’s also 100% the mentality of a runner. Personally speaking, I have had to convince myself that running an extra 12 miles on blood blisters the size of a small grapefruit is a good idea, or that there’s nothing more comfortable than running in heat where you lose most of your fluids just from stepping outside.


I wonder if my brother and I like running so much because we have some natural physical tendency, or whether we respond to the training and discipline thanks to the mentality our parents nurtured in us**. It’s the same mentality that Dad had a few weekends ago: he knew it would be a tough race, and he knew he wasn’t in the best shape, but there was no way he would pull out! Far better to run it slowly, and bloody do it, than to not stand by the commitment and let it beat you.


So, there you have it. A nice little post about my family and running for you. And Dad (because he has been known to read this from time to time), I’m not even after anything. Not even money. I promise.


Ellie B


*This is how I remember it. Maybe it didn’t happen like that. But I live 17,000kms away from my Dad and can’t just ring him to check because of the stupid time zones. So you’ll just have to trust me on this.


** Ok, second disclaimer. I’m not saying we’re a family of wunder-runners: I know literally millions of people do it, and are much faster than we three. But I do think it’s interesting it’s something my brother & I started independently. It’s been something we’ve all been able to bond over during the last ten years, and I wonder why that is. I’m sure it’s very interesting for you to contemplate to. 😉

Running ‘Straya Style

Running in Australia is a different beast to running in the UK. Since I’m taking it easy this week to work on my IT band, I thought I’d give our non-Aussie readers a peak into what it’s like to run over the other side of the world!

Running in ‘Straya

1. Choosing your time of day is important. In Summer, it gets hot early, and dark early (about 8pm in Sydney). So you need to be quick to get that window before you’re either sweltering and running at 5km an hour, or running in the dark!

2. As a result, lots of races are either in Winter, or start really early in the morning (eg. 6.30am for the Sun Run). It’s awesome to walk through a city first thing in the morning which is full of runners and no one else.


Sydney full of City2Surf runners.

3. Everyone will have either sunnies or a hat (see above pic). And everyone will wear sunscreen. We don’t need Baz Lurhman to remind us of this one.

Sunscreen runner

This is the alternative to sunscreen!

4. Sweat. Sweaty sweat sweat. Depending on the part of Australia you’re in of course – Sydney is humid anyway, so throw in a run as well and you’ll be amazed at how much liquid you’ll lose!

5. It doesn’t take long to warm up your muscles!

6. Contrary to UK folklore, spiders and snakes aren’t part of a gang who wait to start wrestling matches with runners. Or humans in general.

7. There’s no hay fever to contend with.


No spiders or pollen on this trail!

8. You worry about hydration even more than in the UK. And it’s no joke: heat stroke and dehydration is a major risk when running in ‘Straya.

9. As it’s a city, Sydney offers mostly road races. But they are often around the harbour or right on the beach, so it’s not too hard on the eye!!

Not a bad view for a lunch time run!

Not a bad view for a lunch time run!

10. At the end of the beach races, there’s nothing more refreshing than running into the sea to cool down.

Manly Beach: the finish to the Sun Run

Manly Beach: the finish to the Sun Run

I have 100% acclimatised to UK running: when we were back in Sydney in March I ran a couple of 10ks, and it was like I was running in a sauna! I don’t know how I used to do it. I also ran with Gilly when she visited but ended up walking (that might have been because of the wine the night before rather than the heat – I don’t know which one’s better for my pride!).

So there you have it! As you’d expect, running in Australia is hotter than the UK, so different preparation is needed. But you’re also more flexible, and Sydney in particular is a beautiful city to run in. If you’re in Australia, check out the park runs or the Sun Herald running series to find an event near you.

 Ellie B