Rip to River 10km - Ocean GroveBy Larry My first run of the year was the Rip to River - a 10km beach fun run from Point Lonsdale to Ocean Grove to raise money for the local surf lifesaving club. I've been keen to run this one for a couple of years; partly because it is a great cause, but mostly because it runs along my local beach and it is tailor-made for running barefoot. Most of the fun runs down this way seem to celebrate our local council's obsession with gravel paths, so it is nice to have one run that I can do without hesitation. After a bit of procrastination, I decided to wear a similar costume to my last fun run - a hippie outfit. This time around I wore a home-dyed tie-dye shirt that I did for fun with my little girl a few weeks ago and paired it up with the head scarf, yellow novelty John Lennon glasses and big peace sign medallion from the last run. As far as I could see, I was the only dress-up in the field of 700-odd runners, and I didn't see anybody running barefoot either, which was a surprise. My preparation went down the tubes again after my family took turns sharing a summer cold just after Christmas. I didn't run much at all in the lead-up, and didn't really feel 100% on the day, but I was well enough to run and I figured things would be OK if I didn't go out too hard. Which of course, I did. The start pulled me along, and I ran the first km in about 4:30 before I came to the realisation that things were going to end badly for me if I kept up such shenanigans. I eased up a little and tried to think more about relaxing and having fun than running fast. Nobody was really up for a chat though, especially after a big wave swept in and I splashed along yelling "Oh no, my shoes are getting wet!" in a silly falsetto voice while everybody else tried unsuccessfully to avoid it. Yep, it was a bit of a miserable bunch, but this was mainly because there was a very nasty headwind and the pervading atmosphere was one of resignation. It was hard going, the wind was making my medallion flap along behind me like a cape, and it felt like I was running through treacle at times. 2km came and went, and the field started to stretch out with the leaders off in the distance. I had a surreal moment when the vagaries of pacing saw a gap open up behind me and for a second I panicked and thought I was coming last. I even looked back for reassurance. I noticed a guy in fivefingers up ahead, but I couldn't catch him and he slowly started to pull away. At the 2.5km drink stop I passed on the water and was horrified when the guy in front of me threw his plastic cup onto the sand. On my beach! I picked it up on the run and harboured thoughts of catching him and giving it back with a few stern words, but he was going too fast and I was dressed as a hippie, so I carried it to the next drink stop and silently cried for the world instead. The half-way drink stop cheered me up - a bunch of local kids from the surf club were on duty, and one of them spotted me and said "Hey, look at this guy". I flashed a peace sign and a big cheer went up with lots of laughs. At 6km I ran past a set of stairs that goes over the sand dunes to my house, and joked with somebody about how it was hard to keep going with bacon and eggs as a second option. I shuffled on, but my spirits were lifting because I was now on the part of the beach that I cover most mornings. Home ground advantage and all. The course went past the finish at about 9km and turned back further up the beach, so I spent half a km plodding doggedly into the wind, watching faster runners streaking for home with a tail wind before I finally made it to the turning point. Wow. The difference was incredible. My pace picked up, I felt a spring in my step, I was better looking and for a second there I discovered the meaning of life and gained the ability to insert a USB stick the right way every time without looking. It was life-changing stuff. I trotted along blissfully and passed a few people, but then with about 60m to go a tall guy in black charged past me. It was on. I wound up for an olympic quality sprint finish and obliterated him, muttering "That's not on, mate" to him on the way past. Well, that's how it happened in my mind - in reality we probably looked like two 80 year old men dashing for the last cream bun at the bakery, but it was fun. I grabbed a drink, caught up with some friends, cheered home a few mates who were struggling and posed for a photo for the local paper (above) before walking home along the beach. I didn't know my time after the run because I had forgotten to beep my watch at the appropriate moments and I was too busy trying to out-sprint the man in black at the finish to look at the clock, so I had to wait for the results to go up on the web a day later. I was pleasantly surprised to see a time of 46:57, which is a good time for me. Overall I was 144 out of 707, and for some reason I was listed as being 30th out of 135 in the 40-49 age group, despite having ticked the box for 30-39 on the entry form. I guess they didn't believe me. I would have been 39 out of 102 against the 30 year olds, so I'm looking forward to joining the crusty old blokes next year.