Jock Athletic take on Manly Soft Sand Classic

16th June 2017

Great to see so many of our sand runners come over to take on the Manly Soft Sand Classic on the holiday Monday of the Queens Birthday weekend. Completely in their off season it was fantastic to have 14 of them turn up and do so well.

21KM Soft san classic – we had one entrant in this, as Mossy and Robbo call him 'Xtreme Najemme'. And what a classic it was. Mid Ramadan, where you are not allowed to eat or more importantly drink during daylight hours, of course Ali chose to take on the toughest race. After 100 metres he had a 30m lead and never looked back. Going through the first 3km on soft sand in just a tick under 4 minute kms he set a strong pace. The sun came out which put it to Ali a bit with him going a bit dizzy for the last 6km, a strong sign of dehydration Ali pushed through and won by around 1.5km.

It’s tough to understand how difficult this is to run for an hour and a half without taking fluid, but this wasn’t just running, this was racing. I mentioned during the week to Ali that if it weren’t Ramadan I would have got him to do the mile race as well as the half. This was a carrot dangled, as knowing Ali, I knew what his response would be, Jock, I’m doing it!

Blistered solidly on his feet, head hurting, and dehydrated, my message was clear, sit behind our youngsters in the mile and see how you go, you might surprise yourself. In the mile we had the two times open Surf Lifesaving state champ Quinton Rose, another elite sand runner that had just knocked Quinton off in the 9km, our own National junior champ Kai Hammond, and Lachy Crawford and our state champ and female mile winner Jesse Phelps. My instructions to Lachy was take these senior runners, including Ali very fast as they’ve just raced, you may be able to knock them off.

The race began Lachy, Kai and the talented Zack Keelan took off at the start and put the entire field under pressure, including Ali. Lachy held a 20m lead until around the 1200m mark when Quinton and another runner went past him, a very brave effort from Lachy and on another day he just may have held on.  The commentator was asking me can I see who’s winning, I said Ali is in 4th, no hang on he’s just moved to 3rd, wait, now second and as he was mentioning this o air I said he’s now into 1st and no one will catch him. All of a sudden he started to sprint home, his form came good and it was all over, and so was he, sprawled on the ground in a great amount of pain everywhere.  Kai came a close 4th to the elite seniors at age only 14 and Lachy in a brave 5th. Zack not far behind Lachy and Jesse Phelps beating most of the boys into first place for the women’s and 7th overall.

It was also great to see Alex McCullock (North Bondi) coming back to great form after a season of injury and sprinters Meggsey Brannock and Jesse thus doing really well I the race. First timers Katrina Hammond, Jemima and Violet Keelan doing really well and Georgia and Dee McCarthy having a great hit out in early pre season.

At the end our runners had the option of a short training set or to take on the beep test on the soft sand, and of course Lachy and Jesse won the beep test with Zack second and Ben Phelps a solid 3rd after a good performance in the mile.  Lachy got to level 11 before pulling out, and he reckoned he had more in him, not bad on the soft sand.

It was a great day everyone, I really enjoyed your efforts, but the pay of the day had to go to Ali. He said to me as he was hobbling around in warm-up for the mile, I don’t know if I’ve got much left in me.  He certainly did, and I told him no race will ever be harder than this, if you can do well in this at your absolute worst, you can do anything, particularly with the high quality field.  This is not something I would get everyone to do, but I know what Ali is capable of and that was an extraordinary show of mental strength, faith and determination.

Well played. 

See video's of the races here:

Watch Ali's post-race interview: