Friday, August 6, 2010

The craziness of the long distance runner

This time of year is such a shame-fest. Masterchef showed me just how terrible I am at cooking: watching a fellow 20 year old make a custard apple snow egg while I struggle with the difference between hard and soft boiled. Then “Dry July” proved an altogether impossible task, serving only to amplify the usual shame of Saturday night debauchery. And now they hit us with the City2Surf, with the requisite guilt of knowing you couldn’t finish it even if you wanted to.

The City2Surf is one of those weird things that always seems compelling, but never with a good reason. It’s like the running of the bulls crossed with a WWI food rationing, but set against the incongruous backdrop of the most expensive real estate in the country. It’s may be a marginally quicker way of getting to Bondi than the bus, but it’s definitely more expensive and you almost certainly won’t be looking airbrushed and effervescent on arrival.

The race creeps up on you, too late in the year to be included in New Years Resolutions but too early to be part of the pre-summer shape-up. Before you know it, overly keen friends (usually the ones stuck in Dry July) are on the phone, desperately recruiting. It’s unclear what social opportunities will unveil as we climb breathless and sweaty up “RSVP” Heartbreak Hill, and yet they insist this activity must be enjoyed together.

The City2Surf’s beauty also lies in how easy it is to ignore: like doing your tax or visiting granny, it can always wait until next year, which happily supports the human need to procrastinate indefinitely. I’m generalising my own needs here to the species at large, which Anna Freud referred to as delusional projection. But I’d say that the vast, vast majority of Sydneysiders who have wisely chosen to sleep-in and take a late brunch this Sunday suggests I’m not alone.

About 80,000 have elected to undergo this torture. It is seemingly part of the endless procession of self-improvement expected of us 21st century urbanites. Pain is achievement, indulgence is weakness. Self-discipline starts with the body, yada yada yada. The whole thing has middle-class white guilt written all over it.

As for myself, I’ll be perched in a trendy Bondi cafĂ© somewhere near the finish line, in prime pointing-and-laughing position. It’s one of those glorious counter-cultural activities, like going to a German restaurant on Anzac Day, which keeps getting better as it goes along. By midday the real stragglers are finally heaving their dishevelled carcasses round the final bend, their panting and spluttering audible even over my own loud chuckles of schadenfreude. Others look like their soul might have died somewhere around Vaucluse but have been carried to Bondi by sheer inertia.

You can’t buy that sort of entertainment. Keep it up Sydney.

No comments:

Post a Comment