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Jack Foster winning the
1975 Honolulu Marathon
It was unseasonably warm overnight, with the temperature staying above 20°C.  Blustery northerly winds had raised the temperature to near 30°C by the time I headed out for an easy 10km at mid-morning.  Although the heat made the run harder work, I welcomed it.  I have a theory that you need to run in hot weather for about a week before your body adapts to make the running easier.  So the early days of heat in any summer will initially be hard work.  It's very hard to go from cold weather to warm weather and run well straight away.  A period of acclimatisation is needed.  This morning's run should have started that process for the coming summer.

The heat reminded me of a story I had been told about Jack Foster, a great New Zealand marathon runner, famous for the world record times he ran in his 40s (2:11:18) and 50s (2:20:28).  He only started running at the age of 32.  In early 1978, Jack was keen to get a place on the New Zealand team for the Commonwealth Games to be held in Edmonton, Canada, in August of that year.  For whatever reason, maybe injury, Jack hadn't run a qualifying time and was desperately looking for a certified marathon somewhere in Australasia to record a good time.  The only marathon he could find was in April in Whyalla, a remote steel town in South Australia, so he wrote to them and they invited him to run as their guest.  It was a new marathon and they were keen to get the publicity.  I heard this story the next year, when I was fortunate enough to be invited by the organisers to be their guest runner.

At least I managed to get on the same poster
as Jack Foster
Anyway, Jack needed to run a time of something like 2:16 to qualify and was optimistic that the flat Whyalla course would give him every chance.  Unfortunately for Jack, Whyalla can get hot, even in autumn, and during the race the temperature rose to 34°C.  The organisers had a huge barrel of water at about the 20 mile mark which they were intending to use as a source of water to douse passing runners.  By 20 miles, Jack's hopes of a qualifying time had evaporated in the heat, and the organisers told me that Jack actually jumped in the barrel of water to cool off before continuing to the finish in 2:26:52.  A year later, without the heat, I won in 2:27:43, so I have an appreciation for Jack's talents.  Sadly he was killed in a collision with a car while out training on his bike at the age of 72.

My right Achilles tendon was still quite sore when I set out for today's run, and I did wonder whether I was wise running at all.  But this injury has been with me for some years, and comes and goes in intensity, so I'm hoping careful management will help it settle down.  Part of that careful management is not forcing it, so I wasn't able to stretch out.  My running style felt awkward, which it was, and I'm sure I looked like an old man going out for a jog, which I was.  I hoped it might loosen up on the one kilometre climb out of Copa, but if it did, it was only a little.  I felt less fatigued than expected, given the 25km trail race on Sunday, but it got harder in the last kilometres as the hills and heat took their toll.

My time for my regular 10km loop was slow, 58 minutes, but that was of no consequence today.  The weather conditions were bad for anybody with breathing issues and the run was accompanied by lots of coughing and spluttering.  The mailman brought the new Sorbothane heel raises I had ordered today, so I'm hoping that will give my Achilles tendon some relief, and a visit to the doctor later resulted in a reversion to the former asthma medication which my body seemed to handle better.  I may risk a longer run tomorrow.