Tuesday nights in Summer are strictly reserved for Bush Reps. We do an 800m loop over near Kane’s Bridge in Studley Park. We jog over from the Club Rooms, cross the Walmer Street bridge and then and make our way across the busy road which becomes Johnston Street.
Bush Reps are meant to get us into shape for the Summer Track Season. The roughly 800m circuit is gravelly and soft under-foot. The session is six times 800m or 1000m. There are occasional large Alsations, walkers and joggers. We alternate directions in which we run it. There is much conjecture about which way is harder. Neil tells us when to go; generally with little warning.
The locale is only six kilometers from the CBD yet it is deceptively naturey. There is a shit tonne of nature, as MJ would say. Picnickers abound on warmer evenings. There are games of informal cricket. The kiddies learning the ropes of Joji’s favourite sport.
Brad: “Which one do you think is harder? Going up at the beginning, or going to the left?”
Ashin: “I think the hardest ones are the fifth and sixth.”
MJ: “Isn’t it funny how every athletics club has its own Moose? He’s usually an old guy with a thick, grey moustache. And who has been around the club since forever. But, it’s funny how our Moose doesn’t have a moustache. We’ve got Mal though. And he has a moustache. And he’s just like Moose. Those two, they’re always helping out. Bringing the drinks, doing whatever. They’re the heart and soul of the club. ‘The spiritual leaders’, as they would say in the footy world.”
Neil: “So, these kids come in with their parents and they’re looking for a pair of shoes. This boy was looking for a pair of spikes. He’s 12 years old. I ask him, how much is doing per week. He says 75km! He’s 12 years old. He’s going to get fractures in no time.”
“So, the old man wants to get his son a pair of spikes for track racing. The stiff ones. But I recommend him another pair. He doesn’t want them. He wants the other ones. He asks how much they are. I say $200. I tell him that they’re for more accomplished runners. Like as in, accomplished runners who are about 19 years old. But he’s all like, well, “my son is in the state team, he’s in the national squad. He’s accomplished.” But that’s bullshit. He doesn’t get it. They think because he’s good now, he’s accomplished. But, he isn’t. Just wait; see what happens. In a few years, then, they’ll know if he is accomplished or not. These parents are the trouble.”
“They put the pressure on the coaches and then the coaches follow their instructions. They know if they don’t do as they’re told, the parents will then go and find another coach. And then they’ll lose their job. This is what is happening at Little Aths. It’s a joke.”
“200 for a pair of spikes for a 12 year old. I sold it to them. Oh well. Let’s see how they go with it.”
Joji: “Steve Smith. What a legend. I guess we’ve got to start comparing him to figures beyond cricket now. Mother Theresa. The Pope. I mean, the guy is a legend. Probably one of the greatest humans ever.”
“Cricket is probably the most ridiculous game. Imagine watching a Test match with someone who has never seen it before. So, you get to the end of the first day’s play, a full six hours, and then they ask, ‘so, who won?’ And then you have to explain that it can go on for another four days and a result is still not guaranteed.”
Lachlan: “Going up to Bathurst. Put on a few podcasts. What’s not to love about that? It’s the perfect summer holiday. I’ll then go up to Queensland. See my new nephew. Good times. I’ll take my towel cloak. People will love it. Go for some runs along some trails. Let the good times roll. I’m simple man. You all know that. I’m no fuss.”
Brad: It’s going to be North’s year. I can just feel it.
Joji: Got a nice fresh bottle of prune juice waiting for me when I get home.
MJ: I reckon that guy’s got something going on.
Jonno: The running is okay up in Sydney. But at least, I’ve got this awesome singlet.
Andy: I’m moving to Leiden next month.
Ashin: Going back home. Want to spend time with my nieces and nephews. It’s not the same being over here and just video-calling them.
Lachlan: The folks are down from Bathurst. We’re going out to the MSO.
The trees provide shelter on the occasionally stinking hot evenings. Paddlers in canoes row past languidly. Although there are warning signs for snakes, we haven’t yet seen one. Neil sets a rough handi-cap race for the last rep. Lachlan may show his wares and outsprint Joji. We jog home via the golf course and an informal football (roundball) field. We jog up the hill with the smell of hops coming across from the Brewery. Ash bemoans corporate beer: Asahi’s global domination etc. We see Steve of Tennyson Street on his bike, in his yellow top, coming down the hill: he waves and we smile and greet him. Neil has put our times in his little notebook and we can find our comfort in plugging away – either coming back to form or pushing our form a session further.