Contributed by Kyoko Miura, AURA member

River Run 100 (50 km), 11 October 2020, Brisbane Qld

Participating in this year’s River Run 50km was a last-minute decision. The race was initially sold out with a reduced number of participants allowed but as the restrictions of Covid-19 eased, more entries were allowed. So I decided to enter. It was less than one week before the race.

I have never participated in the River Run before, but I knew about it as it was a local event, and I have seen River Run race participants running around my usual run course. Therefore, the race was always on my ‘may be the next race’ list. The race is usually in September, but this year the race was moved to October. It was one of the first races to be back after the Covid shutdowns. There were two 50km race start times – midnight and sunrise (start at 4:30am). I chose the sunrise start. It was still dark and cool at the start line and it would have been a bit more chilly if the race was in September.

There were fewer people at the start line than I expected – later I found out that quite a few people did not start the race. Once the race started, the other runners flew away, they immediately disappeared. I only had a rough race plan – run my comfortable pace between 4:40 to 5:00/km, and stick with it; not be influenced by other runners. So I tried not to chase these fast runners. As the sun came up, the temperature also increased. The sun was strong – after all, it is Queensland!

The race course was 5 laps of a 10km out and back along the Brisbane River, starting at Moorland Park, with the turnaround point in the City Botanic Gardens in the Brisbane CBD, which was very familiar to me as I live in Brisbane. However, I was very worried about going the wrong way (e.g. passing the turning point) as it has happened several times in past races. I have no sense of direction (!) as well as vision problems. Thankfully, there were plenty of marshals on the course and after my first lap, I had confidence in not going the wrong way. The course was mostly flat and easy to overtake except occasionally during my 2nd and 3rd laps when the paths got somewhat busy as the marathon and half marathon race participants were also on the course.

I felt okay until about halfway I had hoped. As I was completing the laps, other race participants recognised one another and they started cheering for me. Each time, they made me smile and gave me some energy, especially after the 3rd lap when I was feeling ‘tired’ as well as occasionally nauseous (not unusual). Yes, I was getting tired at the last lap but because these runners on the course continued to cheer me up, actually I felt I had more energy than my 4th lap (but the lap speed was slower in the last lap). As I was approaching the park for the 5th time, I looked at my watch to check the distance – was it really time to run through the goal arch? I was so happy to be crossing the finish line.

The weather was nice and sunny, a bit hot, from time to time I felt a head wind but it was not too bad. The jacaranda flowers were blooming along the course and they were very beautiful – in the end, it was a nice race day. A 50km race is the shortest ultra-marathon, yet it is still a big achievement for me since my chronic illnesses. I have a few autoimmune diseases and one of them is systemic, which means the condition affects my whole body – it involves a range of symptoms such as fatigue and pain (peripheral neuropathy) and these symptoms are ‘invisible’ to other people. The symptoms have not been well controlled for a few years and they make it difficult not only in training but also in everyday life. So, in the last few years, I was not able to participate in ultra-races. Thus, completing the River Run is a positive milestone for me. I continue to be an autoimmune warrior. I am about to start a new treatment as the new year starts. I hope it is effective so that I am able to participate in more races and run a 100km race in the near future.

Thank you very much to the race organiser and volunteers in providing this safe and enjoyable race for us. I also appreciate the big unwavering support from my husband.

Pictured: Kyoko Miura taking on the 2020 River Run 50km distance. Photograph – Supplied.