Race Walk - Western Australia Schools Open 5K, Perth
09 Nov 2003
Well the HRR vest, or should I say uniform, didn't exactly cover itself in glory in (maybe?) its first appearance Down Under. I was invited to the event and turned up to find it was one of a regular series of Sunday morning full-programme Perth area Schools track-and-field meetings that are opened to seniors as paying guests - the non-"schoolies" in the walk being myself and Sara-Jane Cattermole, the Scottish international who spends six months of each year in Dartford and six months in Australia (and you can guess which six months in each). The race winner was a local lad who was sixth in the last World Juniors (i.e. under-20s I think, and he is 17.) Overall the standard of schools athletes there was frighteningly high and very even - across all the events that I witnessed - considering the event drew from a catchment area with a population of just 1.3 million. Stadium facilities, in this out-of-the-way corner of Australia, were better than Alexander Stadium (eg there was a 12-lane home straight, so they could run the 60 and 100 sprints and 100 hurdles at the same time as the walk). My time was my worst 5K for a couple of years. I have plenty of excuses, mainly that it was the first hot weekend of the summer there and by far the hottest race I've ever been in. And I was walking upside-down of course.