Canberra Half Marathon – Kumar Uddipto
Race Date: April 14th Results: 2019
The Australian Running Festival was a great opportunity for those looking to beat their personal bests. The race promised a nice flat route with perfect weather conditions for running. I had run a few half-marathons before with my Personal Best of 83 mins 36 seconds at Glasgow in 2015.
For me personally, the race went beyond just getting a PB. I was there to show support for one of my work colleagues, Matt Dun who’s trying to raise awareness about Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) - a particularly severe form of childhood brain Cancer. His story is all too personal as his young daughter, Josie is afflicted by it. DIPG is the most deadly form of childhood cancer with an average survival rate of only nine months following diagnosis.
As a cancer researcher at the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) and the University of Newcastle, Matt and his wife Phoebe, a local GP, were immediately aware of the implications of a brain cancer diagnosis.
Their hopes were all but shattered when they learnt that there were no treatment options for DIPG other than palliative radiotherapy, which might reduce symptoms temporarily. It was at that moment Matt and his research team decided to expand their research program to include DIPG, and use the technologies that he had established over many years in other cancers, to improve this bleak outlook with the help of funding from his family and friends and some wonderful international collaborations.
To know more about his story, or to find ways to contribute to his cause please visit https://rundipg.org.
Matt previously had his first marathon attempt in Sydney last year where he was unable to finish due to injury. He vanquished his marathon demon this time around where he finished in a time of 3 hours 43 min.
The morning of the race was buzzing with activity around the Old Parliament Building which was the starting point for the Marathon and the Half Marathon.
The race started off with me hanging right in the middle with a friendly New Zealander that I had met the day before. Kms 1 to 5 were pretty vanilla with the only challenges involving trying to get around large groups of runners. We went past the iconic Old and the New Parliament Buildings and encountered a bunch of armed serious looking policemen.
The first hill to negotiate the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge where I began to speed up a bit. The next 4 km were quite a relief due to the slight incline. Kms 6 to 9 were the most spectacular scenic wise with Lake Burley Griffin to the left. We did a U-turn on km 9 where things began to take off. I got overtaken by a couple of runners from a Melbourne-based club and then decided to switch gears myself. I kept passing runners right back towards Kings Park up until km 16.
We went past a tunnel formed by volunteers from TCS – one of the sponsors for the Running festival. With them cheering us on, I decided to switch gears again and started overtaking a few runners. Little did I know that this would prove quite costly in another 2 kms.
Fast forward to kilometre 18 and my calves start cramping and I get passed by a few runners. I barely hobble through from kilometre 18 to 19. I try pushing for some speed from my legs but they refuse to obey me. At kilometre 20 I spot the last hill and make a massive push to overtake a few more runners.
As soon as I get about 400 m close to the finish line, I heard someone say ‘Sprint Finish’ and I made a last ditch effort to take a few more seconds of my time. I manage to get past the finish line and then collapse.
My legs were jelly and would not listen to me anymore. I literally got dragged to the Medic Tent before I collected my medal. I wasn’t too pleased about my finish time of 87 min 38 seconds but still take a little bit of satisfaction from the fact that at least I finished under 90 mins.