City to Surf Race Analysis

city to surfRichard Sarkies has lined up for the City to Surf fifteen times, many of those as a preferred runner. Here, Richard shares with us a kilometre by kilometre description of the course, and how he runs it.

First km

No prizes for guessing it’s pretty jammed pack at the moment. This first section takes you down and up William St and into the Kings Cross Tunnel. I like to relax down the first section, allowing myself to be dragged along by the crowd, then try to settle into a rhythm during the uphill section leading into the tunnel, yet at the same time soaking in the incredible atmosphere of 75000 people. I ALWAYS take a look around before entering the tunnel to view the sea of people.

It’s so easy to do that first 1km too fast, so check your watch for the split inside the tunnel.


Second km

This is a downhill/flat section taking you along RushcuttersBay, so will be a fast km. As with all downhills, I make use of this slope by leaning forward and turning my legs over more quickly. It’s amazing how many people you can overtake doing this. I’m still settling into my rhythm and trying to hit the pace I want for basically the whole race as I head towards DoubleBay.


Third km

Here’s a fairly decent hill, although not too steep, taking you past Edgecliff Station. I relax, trying not to work too hard as there’s plenty of other hills coming up. I ensure I’m running the shortest possible route by hugging the curves of the road, running right next to the inside gutter.

After the uphill, it’s a fairly long downhill into DoubleBay, so I get the legs moving quickly, and enjoy the brass band on top of the Sheriff Pub on the right


Fourth km

By now I’ve settled into a pace I’m happy with, making sure I’ve been checking splits at each km mark, and adjusting pace if necessary. This is a slightly slowish km as it’s flat with a gradual rise up to the first drink station


Fifth km

A slightly faster km taking you down alongside RoseBay. I carefully check my time split for 5km as it gives me a very good idea of how I’m going today, and how I’m going to tackle Heartbreak Hill between 6 & 7km.


Sixth km

One of the rare completely flat sections of the course. I know exactly my pace now, and I’m most likely in a little group of similar paced runners. If there’s any head wind I’ll sit at the back of a group to shield from the wind.


Seventh km

Here it is folks, ‘Heartbreak Hill’. I just keep my rhythm and leg turnover, and of course hug the curves as it winds up for 1km to the highest part of the course, and HALFWAY! I know it’s going to be a slow km so I don’t worry about the split. I just keep things moving as I go over the top where there’s plenty of spectators to cheer you on


Eighth km

I’m now working pretty hard, and on that ‘threshold’ pace where you can’t really go any faster. There’s lots of small downhills and uphills now for the next few km, and I really focus on form during this section to take advantage of the slopes.


Ninth km

There’s a few left and right turns here, so make sure you cut the corners! The uphills are short and steep, so I really focus on getting up and over the top and into rhythm as soon as it’s flat again. I take note of the wind as we turn direction and head south. If there’s a tailwind I push a little harder to take advantage of the wind behind me, or tuck in behind any groups if it’s a headwind. Note you won’t tend to consciously feel a tailwind, so if you suddenly feel really good, that’s probably the reason, but don’t relax or you’ll lose your pace.


Tenth km

Very similar at the start to the last km,  but I know there’s a flatish section coming up to get things moving again. I need to focus a little more as it’s a fairly long straight section, plus fatigue is starting to build. I push things a little more along here, knowing there’s a 1.5km downhill section coming up soon to take me into Bondi


Eleventh km

The long straight section continues, and the road seems a little harder, but I keep pushing hard towards the 11km sign



Here’s where I make up for time lost on the uphills, and run my fastest km. The reasonable decline starts at 11.5km,  so I just go for it, knowing that it’s 1km to go from the bottom of the hill.


Thirteenth km

I keep the legs turning over quickly on the downhill, and continue to make sure I take the shortest route possible. Usually it’s hurting a bit by now, but I remind myself the worst is behind me.


Fourteenth km

Time to really push it home, I work really hard up a slight incline for about 300m, keep pushing around the curve taking in the crowd support as it flattens out, focus on the u-turn about 400m ahead. I pick it up another gear if possible around the downhill turn to head north to the finish about 400m ahead. Over the last 100m or so I go flatout (which might not actually be too fast by now), trying to crack  the 48 min mark. To date, I’ve missed it by 13 seconds, damn it!


I’d love you to add your version of the race in the comments below!



Would you recognise a stroke if you saw one?

F.A.S.T. signs of stroke

F.A.S.T. signs of strokeStroke is the second biggest killer amongst Australians, yet many of us would not be able to recognise the symptoms of stroke if we saw them. The Australian goverment recently announced $2m in funding to promote awareness of the F.A.S.T campaign,  aimed at helping people to recognise the symptoms of stroke.

According to National Stroke foundation (NSF) CEO Dr Erin Lalor, only about half of Australians  know the signs of stroke, and one in ten of us could not spot a stroke if it occurred right in front of us.

“A stroke can cause the same kind of brain injury as a serious car crash and needs the same urgent medical treatment but despite the fact that one in six people will have a stroke in their lifetime, most Australians don’t really understand what a stroke is or what to do about it,” Dr Lalor said.

Strokes occur when a bleed or blood clot on the brain starves the brain of oxygen, and causes parts of the brain to die. Medical attention is required ASAP to restore blood flow to the the brain, if serious disability or death is to be prevented.

“One-third of stroke patients will die and one-third will be left with a significant disability that will make it impossible for them to live independently. Prompt medical treatment will save lives – and the signs of stroke are easy to learn. Someday it might be your own life you save,” Lalor says.

There are around 1000 cases of stroke per week across Australia, so learn to recognise the signs of a stroke. You could save the life of a family member, friend or colleague by reacting quickly. 


Face – has their mouth drooped?

Ask the person to smile. . Is one side of the face able to move while the other side droops or feels numb? A common symptom of stroke is weakness or numbness on one side of the face.

When I was about 16, the boy next door suffered from Bell’s Paulsy (generally sudden onset, but temporary, paralysis/weakness of one side of the face). I remember we were in his living room having a joke about something and instead of smiling, he snarled – or at least I thought he did – it was just a one-sided smile. He also couldn’t feel or taste any of his lime cordial as he swallowed it. He just thought he had a bit of a cold. If you happen to notice something strange about the way someone smiles at you, check it out, don’t just assume they thought you weren’t funny!!


Arms – can they lift both?

Ask the person to lift both arms. Does one feel week, or drift down while trying to lift it? Strokes often cause numbness or weakness in one arm or leg.


Speech – is it slurred, can they understand you?

Ask the person to say a simple phrase such as “The grass is green” or “The sky is blue.” Another  common stroke symptom is slurred speech or mind confusion. If the person doesn’t understand what you’re saying, they can’t repeat the phrase, or if you can’t decipher what they are saying, it may be the result of a stroke.


Time – is critical. If you see any of these signs, ring 000 straight away.

Every minute counts when it comes to stroke. The most effective treatment for stroke must be received within the first three hours following onset of the stroke. After that small window of time, treatment may not be available. Early intervention care may mean a good outcome.

If you are watching someone having a stroke, note the time of the onset of symptoms, as this can aid in their treatment. 


Signs and Symptoms in Women and Men

Men and women may experience the same signs and symptoms of stroke,  including facial, arm, and leg weakness and numbness; speech difficulty; vision problems or dimness usually in one eye; dizziness; loss of coordination; a severe headache; or a loss of consciousness. These symptoms may worsen over time or go away.

However, women often report stroke symptoms that men don’t seem to experience. These symptoms all come on suddenly and include limb or facial pain, hiccups, weakness, chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, or heart palpitations. These unique symptoms may accompany the symptoms noted in F.A.S.T.

Any time you suspect stroke, play it safe and seek emergency medical attention.


Stroke Prevention

  • don’t smoke
  • drink only in moderation,
  • control diabetes if you suffer from it
  • control  cholesterol and blood pressure
  • get regular exercise
  • eat a diet low in sodium, calories, fat, and cholesterol.


If you take control of your health today, you may just avoid a stroke in the future.

“Develop a Backbone, Not a Wishbone”

In 1959 Judge Phillip B. Gilliam of Denver, Colo., wrote an open letter to teenagers, which was published in the South Bend Tribune on Dec 6th. The judge worked in juvenile court in Denver from 1940 till 1975. I’m guessing he would have seen quite a bit in his time.


In 2012, a post on Facebook featuring some of his letter went viral. His words are just as pertinent today as they were fifty odd years ago. I’ve reprinted the letter in it’s entirety as sited in the Pierce County Tribune, Jan 7th 2010, with my emphasis.


“Open letter to Teen-ager

Always we hear the plaintive cry of the teen-ager. What can we do?…Were can we go?

The answer is GO HOME!

Hang the storm windows, paint the woodwork. Rake the leaves, mow the lawn, shovel the walk. Wash the car, learn to cook, scrub some floors. Repair the sink, build a boat, get a job.

Help the minister, priest, or rabbi, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army. Visit the sick, assist the poor, study your lessons. And then when you are through – and not too tired – read a book.

Your parents do not owe you entertainment. Your city or village does not owe you recreational facilities.

The world does not owe you a living…You owe the world something.

You owe it your time and your energy and your talents so that no one will be at war or in poverty or sick or lonely again.

Grow up; quit being a crybaby. Get out of your dream world and develop a backbone, not a wishbone, and start acting like a man or a lady.

You’re supposed to be mature enough to accept some of the responsibility your parents have carried for years.

They have nursed, protected, helped, appealed, begged, excused, tolerated and denied themselves needed comforts so that you could have every benefit. This they have done gladly, for you are their dearest treasure.

But now, you have no right to expect them to bow to every whim and fancy just because selfish ego instead of common sense dominates your personality, thinking and request.

In Heaven’s name, grow up and go home!”

– South Bend Tribune, Sunday, Dec. 6, 1959.


The more things change, the more they stay the same!


Some recent commentary, has proposed that these words were too harsh. Not me. If fewer people less concerned about political correctness and more people told it like it is, I think the world would be a better place. We sugar coat so much for our kids. Everyone has to win a prize these days, we are encouraged to praise everything our kids do, no matter if their efforts have yielded poor results.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely in favour of praising effort, but don’t pretend the kid who comes last in a race is as fast as the kid who comes first; don’t pretend that your child’s speech was just as good as the kid’s who came first in the public speaking competition, and do not kid yourself that your six year old doesn’t know that the best and fairest is shared around the team, rather than going to the best player every week, or that they don’t know the score, even though you encourage participation and not winning.


For me, there’s nothing the matter with acknowledging competition, there’s nothing the matter with losing, there’s nothing the matter with telling a kid just how it is, and there’s everything the matter with not trying your best, and blaming someone else for your failings.


I reckon a good few adults could do with taking notice of what the good judge said.


What do you think? Too harsh or fair enough?




How much of your fun run entry fee goes to charity?

fun run dollarLet’s face it, it costs a bit to enter a fun run these days. You’d be hard pressed to enter a marathon for much under $100 anywhere on the eastern seaboard from Brisbane to Melbourne (the Sydney M7 is a bargain at $80), and most half marathons are around the $90 mark. The city to surf is $65 if you get in early, the shorter runs associated with the Sydney Running Festival (better known as the bridge run) will set you back $55 and $40 (early bird entry) for the 9km and 3.5km respectively.

I often hear my runners say they don’t mind the high fees to enter fun runs, as it’s helping charity. So I thought I’d take a look at just how much of your fun run entry dollar goes to charity.

I approached the organisers of a few events via email, to get a feel for what money goes where. Here are some of the responses.



I own a  running training and coaching business and many of my runners are interested to know where their entry fees for various fun runs go to. Just wondering if you could clarify a few things for me.  Does any of the entry fee go to charity? and if so is that tied to people connected to that charity volunteering -eg the SES.

We’re also interested to know what percentage of the entry fee goes towards the actual running of the event, and what goes to the event manager? Any light you could shed on these questions would be apprectiated. thanks Kirsten Todd Hooked on Health Hooked on Running


Reply from GOLD COAST MARATHON (and half marathon, 10km, 5km and 4km and 2km kids dashes).

All entry fees go to running the event. Our organisation is a not for profit organisation and as such we seek commercial sponsorship and government funding to heavily subsides our entry fees. As a consequence, we do not have the surplus to be able to designate any of the entry fee towards Charity. (My emphasis)

 We are however heavily involved in promoting Charity Organisations such as Cancer Council Queensland and enlisting Every Day Heroes. To date we have managed to raise over half a million dollars for Charity.


Reply from FAIRFAX EVENTS regarding City to Surf
(they also run SMH Half Marathon, Australian Running Festival which includes the Canberra Marathon, Cole Classic Swim, Sun Run, Run4Fun). 

It took a few goes to get any real information from them at all, and that was simply that they couldn’t give me any information!


Across all events run by Fairfax Media, In return for your entry fee into our events, you will receive a range of items depending on the event:

– A chest bib and timing tag (attached to the back of the bib)
– A finisher’s medal
– Public transport to and from the event, on event day
– Baggage transport from start to finish line
– Gatorade and water during and immediately after the race
– The Sun-Herald newspaper (on race day, whilst stocks last)
– Entertainment along the course and at the finish line
– Downloadable certificate

An event as large as the events that we coordinate, is very expensive to organise and execute each year. Without the support of there partners and over 3,000 volunteers it would not be possible to run such a large community event.

Representatives from various community organisations all over Sydney such as Rotary and Lions Clubs, Scouts and Girl Guides, various sporting groups, volunteer bush fire brigades, State Emergency Services, St John Ambulance and school groups help out on the day. Each of these organisations receives a per volunteer donation in appreciation for their assistance. 


Hi Zane

I did read all of this on the city to surf website, but thanks for sending it through again. So can I clarify, that any money from entry fees that goes to charity goes to organisations who supply volunteers for the event, and any profits from the event goes to Fairfax media, or I guess Fairfax events?


Thank you for your email. Entrants do have the opportunity to fundraise for a chosen charity or make a one off donation during the registration process. Volunteer groups do receive a donation per person for their efforts throughout event day

Thanks once again. We were already pretty clear on that. What is of interest to us is whether or not these events are a profit making venture for Fairfax media or Fairfax events.


Thank you for your email. I’m afraid we won’t be able to disclose this information to you. If you do have any other questions that we might be able to help with feel free to get in contact. 


I don’t know about you, but I’ve taken that to mean that Fairfax Events might well turn a profit from these events, and there is absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love these fun runs. They are a great community event, they get people off their bums so they feel better physically and emotionally, and a lot of money is mobilised for charity because these events exist.

But know this: For most of the larger fun run events, little or none of your actual entry fee goes to charity, unless a donation is being made on a per volunteer basis to charitable organisations such as scouts, SES, surf lifesaving etc, who provide manpower on the day. If you want all your training and your run on the day to help a charity, you need to donate to your chosen charity during the entry process, or actively raise funds by seeking sponsorship for your run, or by some other kind of fun raising.


Or……….. you could enter some of the smaller local events, which tend to cost less. A fair chunk of your entry fee can be donated to charity, due to the volunteer of the event organisers. 


I asked a similar question of some local event organisers. Here are their responses:



Hello Kirsten,

The Roseville Chase Rotary Fun Run is organised primarily as a Community event to encourage good health and provide an opportunity for local family to participate in a community event.  Our event caters for serious runner and of leisurely walkers.

 Regarding the the Registration fees, approximately half the fees collected are used in expenses associated with the event.  The other 50% all goes to support local , National and International causes and project that our Rotary Club is directly supporting or that Rotary International is supporting. 

 Rotary does not use any of the charity funds it raises on administration, marketing or promotional costs.

 If you require more information go to



I received a really helpful two page document from the organisers of the mimimos (thanks to Cherelle Martin). The mimimos is 100% run by volunteers, so no salaries need to be paid from your entry fees. Mosman Public School has been running the Minimos for 30 years now, so they are pretty efficient at it. It’s always a really well run event which I can highly recommend.

Here are some interesting facts about the Mini-Mos

  • The break even point where the fun run costs are covered is roughly 1600-1800 entrants. Entries vary from year to year,  so it’s not possible to say exactly how much of your individual entry fee goes directly to the school.
  • At $45 for 10km, $35 for 5km, and $22.50 for 2 km, entry fees compare favourably to larger events
  • As well as raising money for the school, the fun run provides a platform for raising funds for other charities. Like most runs theses days, participants can set up individual sponsorship pages and can make a donation online during the registration process. Other initiatives also raise funds for charities such as the Tony Abbott Challenge and items provided by high profile Minimos ambassadors for auction.
  • In 2013, the Mini-Mos Fun Run raised nearly $50,000 for the school and $30, 000 for charity


Just wanted to set the record straight. 





6 Ways To Get Faster, without upping your training

fast runner on roadMost of us would like to be able to run just that little bit faster. Improve on that 10k PB, even if it’s only by the smallest amount. Or maybe you’re trying to maintain the times you did when you were a bit younger? It’s not so easy once you hit 40 is it? Whatever your situation, there are plenty of simple things you can do to shave more than just a few seconds off your time. Here are six of them.

1. Extend your sleep time.

We all know that chronic sleep deprivation causes you to function below par. For those of you with children, think back to when they were babies, and the permanent daze you were in. (Maybe you going through that now).

Sleep experts reckon seven to nine hours of sleep per night for adults is the right amount, whilst teens should be getting nine to ten hours a night. If you’re falling asleep before your head hits the pillow, and have to wake up to an alarm every morning, then you’re probably not getting enough sleep. If you take about 20 mins to travel to the land of nod, and wake up without an alarm, then you’re probably getting enough -as long as that is more than 7 hours a night.

Simply getting the right amount of sleep will improve your performance, but studies have shown that by taking it a step further and extending your sleep time to 10-11 hours a night over a period of several weeks, your performance will improve measurably.

How good is that? And don’t worry if you’re the type who tosses and turns the night before a big race worrying you will sleep through your alarm! The sleep you get the night before a race doesn’t have nearly as much impact on your performance as your penultimate night’s sleep does.

2. Lighten Up

You’ll go faster if you can lose a few of those extra kgs you’re hanging onto for that famine that never comes. As a rule of thumb, for every 1% loss of body mass – primarily as body fat-there will be an approximate 1% increase in running speed. If you’re looking at weight loss as a performance booster, don’t crash diet for two weeks before a race. Instead, gradually lose a few kgs at a rate of about 500gms a week. Dramatic weight loss may adversely affect not only your performance, but your health as well.

Let’s have a look at the maths.
Current Weight = 65kgs
10km time = 50 mins ie 5mins per km, or 12kms per hour

If you lose 1% body fat
weight loss = 650 gms – that’s not a heap in anyone’s book
10km time improves by 1% ie, 50 mins x 99%=49.5

So there you have it. A 30 second PB by losing 650 gms.

3. Make sure you have lightweight new(ish shoes)

The heavier your shoes, the slower you will run (see point 2), so going for a lighter weight model makes sense.  Generally you will need to transition into lighter weight shoes over time to reduce your risk of injury.

Newer shoes could be slightly lighter as well – the older the shoe, the more chance it has to gather moisture. Buy 2 pairs of shoes you like, and keep one pair for a bit of dry weather training to wear them in, and for racing. Every little bit helps.

4. Let your body recover

Be sure to include plenty of recovery time in your training program. That means amount of time between training sessions, as well as including a recovery week every 3-5 weeks. It also means tapering before an event. As a rule of thumb, marathoners will start to taper 3 weeks out from an event, 2 weeks for half marathoners, maybe a week for 10ks, and anything shorter at least a few days to a week. That means reducing your mileage substantially, and listening to your body. If it’s telling you it’s tired, it is. Let it rest.

Other important recovery strategies are

massage – find someone who can give you a great sports massage, and also learn how to massage yourseslf
sleep – as discussed above
good nutrition – a good recovery drink after long runs which has electrolytes as well as a 3:1 or 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio. A diet rich in fruit and vegetables and unprocessed foods.

5. Good Hydration

Your performance can start to decrease when you lose as little as 1% of your body weight in fluids. That could be as little as 2 cups of fluid, depending on  your body weight. It’s such an easy thing to rectify. Find out more about hydration for running performance.

6. Attention to detail

As well as paying attention to all of the above, be prepared on race day.

Try out a few pre-race breakfast strategies before race day so see what suits you best.

Try out your nutrition strategies for the race during training. Never take gels, chomps, sports drinks etc in a race that you haven’t already tried. You could find you’re making a pit stop at the loo. High concentrations of simple carbs can cause all sorts of intestinal upsets.

If your race is in the morning, get up early to train so that you are replicating race conditions as closely as possible

Know the course (or not, depending on your personality). For me, I look to know where I’m running, where the hills will be, where the drinks stations are, etc. Others don’t seem to mind, but if you’re like me, try to run over at least part of the course in training.

Don’t delay your training session if it happens to be raining when it’s scheduled. It might be raining on race day

Bring layers of warm clothes you can discard on race day. Keep them on even after you have entered the starting area. You could be waiting quite a while till you start.

Bring toilet paper with you. Bad enough to have to use a smelly port-a-loo if you have a last minute attack of nerves before the race, but VERY bad if you find an empty toilet roll holder!



DISCLAIMER: Any information contained in this document is obtained from current and reliable sources and is solely for the purpose of interest and information.  Individuals receiving this information must exercise their independent judgment in determining its appropriateness for their particular needs. The information and training advice is general in nature and may not be suited to the recipient’s individual needs. Medical advice should always be sought when starting an exercise program. As the ordinary or otherwise use(s) of this information is outside the control of the author, no representation or warranty, expressed or implied, is made as to the effect(s) of such use(s), (including damage or injury), or the results obtained. The author expressly disclaims responsibility as to the interpretation of the views contained in this article, ordinary or otherwise. Furthermore, the author shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. The author shall not be responsible for any damages resulting from use of or reliance upon this information. Readers of this document are solely responsible for compliance with all laws and regulations applying to the use of the information, including intellectual property rights of third parties.