The Friar vs. Puffing Billy

A story in which the Friar puffs much more than Billy…

I had the pleasure of running in the Puffing Billy race last weekend. For the uninitiated, this is a 13.2 kilometre running race through the Dandenong hills in which you attempt to beat the famous Puffing Billy steam engine which runs between Belgrave and Emerald Lake.

Now, after 27 years of this race being held, the Belgravians have learned. There are more “Go pee somewhere else” signs in backyards than I have ever seen in my life! Those familiar with running races will know there are at least 2 Nervous Leaks that must be had just before the start, no matter what.

Took me ages to find a backyard without a sign… ;-)

3000 people ran in this race. At the 5 kilometre mark I was still completely surrounded and unable to run at my own pace. A hill starts at the 5K mark and goes for a full 2.5 kilometres. Running uphill for 2.5K. Bloody stupid, yeah? Still…

So by 7.5 kilometres you finally get a bit of road to yourself! Too bad I was too buggered from the hill to make much use of it!

For the next 5 kilometres I continually passed, and was re-passed by, a bloke in his mid-70’s. He was about 4.5 feet tall with bowed legs and so wiry I think his body had foregone muscles and had settled simply for skin, bone and a few stray tendons.

With 1 kilometre to go I had the thought “No. I REALLY cannot be beaten by a 75 year old Leprechaun…” and got past him for the last time. Funnily enough, he seemed supremely unconcerned!

I crossed the line after 70 minutes. I beat the second train. They run two. Puffing Billy and Puffing Gilly. Puffing Gilly was whistling away behind me as I sprinted for the finish line.

After negotiating the New York style grid-lock getting out of Emerald Lake, I toddled home a very satisfied man. Ate the entire contents of my fridge that afternoon and went to work the next day walking like a penguin.

It was worth it though. Great day out.

Journal Comments

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