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The running men

This is part 3 of my 2019 trip down under to visit my brother and nieces. So far I’ve documented how I spent loads of time in airports and planes drinking, with a few hours in Copenhagen, also spent drinking. This instalment starts at 4am on Saturday morning, as I laid in bed in my holiday apartment struggling to get online.

Saturday

Having been warned that the WiFi was rubbish and only available for one hour a day, I tried tethering, and this was nothing but an exercise in frustration. Despite my phone data working fine, whether on VPN or not, my iPad was having none of it. It either wouldn’t connect to the personal hotspot, or would connect but not be given internet access, or occasionally - very very occasionally, and only for a minute or so at a time - would actually work. It wound me up no end. Bah.

6am arrived and it was time to get up. My brother had gone to fetch his daughters on Friday afternoon from their cousins’ place, but that turned into an impromptu sleepover so he was solo in an apartment almost next door, and we were off to Parkrun. Because of course going to Parkrun after 48 hours of drinking and flying is a good idea, destroyed by jet lag and out of practice and that.

Sarcasm, of course. Parkrun is always a great idea even when I’m feeling very out of shape. We drove, via only a couple of wrong turns, up to Varsity Lakes, finding a parking space directly next to the start line at 0650. Parkrun down here starts at the ungodly hour of 7am, which I’m sure makes sense in summer but in the depth of winter it’s only a few minutes after sunrise.

What looked like a hundred or so people were milling about next to a flappy sign, and a pre-run briefing was given at a volume too low for us to hear. Since Kevin was doing the marathon the following day, he was in full taper mode and had decided to plod around with my fat ass. Such a slow pace bored him immediately - I mean, literally before we even started. Prior to the start he was like, nah, I’m gonna go a bit nearer the front...

Next time I saw him was at 1.2km or so. He was at 2km I reckon, and I puffed “you’re 10th” at him. He was barely even breaking a sweat, the twat.

I dunno what position he was in next time I saw him, I wasn’t counting. He was at about 4.2km I think, and I was deep in conversation with a bloke who periodically seemed like he’d chosen to race me, but in the end just started to chat. He and his missus were there because she was knocking off the letter V, having decided to do a full Parkrun alphabet. That’s a great idea!

I was only just managing to stay under 32:00 pace for 5km until getting to the finish at 31:16, hurrah for wonky GPS. I’d come 92nd, Kevin had come 7th. Nice job!

Breakfast. That’s what we needed next. En route back to the apartments was Paddock, a bakery/cafe with a great reputation.

Perusing the menu, my eyes are drawn to Toad in the Hole. This ain’t yer Yorkshire toad in the hole, let me tell you.

Yeah, it’s hipster as all fuck but I’m the one with the beard and the thick rimmed glasses so what else am I gonna do? The place was very popular and our food was great.

While debating what kinds of “-monger” there are in the world (fish; cheese; iron; war; ...?) we drove beyond the apartments and onwards, to pick up the nieces. With Nige and Jo, the parents of their cousins, they’d just finished scoffing down Nutella pancakes they’d made themselves, and were quite excited to see me – but not as much as the dog, Ricky.

Much debate was had about which of us stank the worst, with me repeatedly staking a claim for that crown. With much noisy chaos ensuing we bid farewell and took the girls to the apartments, which they were overcome with excitement to explore. With everyone in the right place, showers were had before we set out for the one remaining important thing left on the menu for the day: picking up Kevin’s race number.

10 or so kilometres up the Gold Coast highway is the convention centre, what where such things get collected. We each wrote down two guesses as to what number he might end up with, and Harry was closest, being only ~800 out with her 3016 against the result of 2211.

Once the number is collected, everyone is shepherded through the retail section - loads of the sponsors and other associated businesses had stands selling all kinds of running goods and services. Nothing tempted any of us, though AJ and Harry both got temporary tattoos (that were still on their arms 3 days later).

The weather was still pretty bleak. I’d been promised the Gold Coast, and Queensland in general, is always sunny, yet here I was on the second day of clouds and spitting rain. Bah.

It was only spitting though, and obviously I found it funny. Walking around looking for a water fountain, but failing to do so, we wandered down to and along the beachfront for a bit, here at Broadbeach. I admired the honesty of a location called POINT DANGER.

No water fountains, nowhere to eat, nothing much doing, and horrible wind with occasional rain: this sucks! So, via a random comic-book-decorated koala, we went back to the car and drove up to Surfers Paradise.

Kevin had not even been attempting to disguise his dislike of this town, and it was time to see if his prejudice was warranted. Driving slowly through the one-way system of horrible looking bars, and big shops like Condom King, I came to the quick opinion that Surfers is a bit like an Aussie version of Magaluf and Blackpool. Nasty.

But we were hungry, for it was lunch time by now. So we parked up by the beach, and battled our way through hundreds of moody seagulls to Vapiano. Pizza and calzone and pastas ordered, along with a local craft beer, here’s some Foremanian harmony. Not that Harry is looking too happy, despite proclaiming her pizza the best she’s ever had.

Our waitress mentioned to us that there was a pizza making class available for the young ‘uns on Monday morning, for only 10 AUD a piece. Literally everyone present was very excited by this news. The girls scribbled MARCELA on their palms to remember her name, and I showed off with a bit of obrigado since she was Brazilian ‘n that.

Heading back towards the apartments, we stopped off to go check out a raffle prize. Kevin has bought a few tickets from his local RSL (kinda like British Legions), the prize being a mirror image pair of pretty incredible properties in a cosy waterfront street in this neck of the woods. We explored all the rooms in both houses and yeah, they’d be alright to win, I guess. AU$ 3.75 million retail value would be an OK return for an AU$ 5 ticket.

Leaving the prizes, via a trip to Woolies for food and BWS for beer, we all encamped in their apartment for a couple of hours. I’d bought a USB adapter so I can charge more than one thing at once, and upon reading the packaging I suddenly became disappointed that it won’t protect me from lightning strikes. Woe is me!

Why is this even worth mentioning!?

At 3pm on a Saturday afternoon, what did we find on TV? Why, The Meg was on. Oh joy, etc. Now I get to see all the stuff I missed on the flight on Wednesday night. In fact, my body tried to stop this from happening by making me doze off every couple of minutes, but Harry was sat next to me on the sofa and so wise to my eye movements that she was basically prodding me awake even if I so much as blinked.

Turns out the second half of The Meg is as shit as the first half. Yay Statham!

Crashing hard, and with Kevin also needing an early night for his big run in t’morning, I went back to my own place. A nightcap in hand, I discovered WWE Raw was on at 5pm on a Saturday evening. Well, seems like it would be a bit of a waste to miss out on wrestling... with my sofa being so incredibly comfortable, I fell asleep there until 10pm at which point I crawled into bed proper.

Sunday

Woke up at 2am Sunday. God damn it, jet lag isn’t meant to get worse with each day, it’s meant to get better! Oh well, no point trying to go back to sleep again. Listened to a bunch of podcasts while playing Threes and again struggling with tethering, then got up at 5am because I had visitors.

Kevin and the girls accommodation was changing today, awkwardly. So they had to check out by 0930, a time when Kevin would be two thirds through his marathon. Accordingly, uncle of the year and babysitter extraordinaire here had to play host to AJ and Harry for the first half of the day, as well as operate as a left luggage facility. So they all came over at 5.30am, suitcases and everything, and Kevin buggered off in the pissing rain up to the start line.

How on earth am I meant to cope with an 8yo and a 10yo for, like, 7 hours on my own? ARGH. I have no idea what I’m doing! So here’s what happened:

  • Plonked them in front of the TV, which happened to be showing 6 hours straight of shows they know and like
  • Helped them make toast and have other bits of breakfast
  • Drank water out of some curiously small wine glasses they found in one of my kitchen cupboards
  • Kept them vaguely interested in their dad’s marathon progress, by keeping track of his split times

It was a surprisingly well-behaved morning. In order to keep tabs on Kevin I tried the WiFi, discovering it’s not only an hour for free but you can actually pay – so I did, 24AUD for “7 days or 30GB”. Internet! That also meant I could take the opportunity to write a diary entry.

At 8am, with Kevin’s 10k split on the board, I marshalled the girls into getting dressed so we could go out and watch him: as luck would have it, the 16km turnaround point of the marathon was literally at the end of our street. With it still raining on and off - there’d been a rainbow at the start when the elites kicked off - we took the umbrellas and stood next to the fence. A few individuals, very fast ones, went past, then the odd small group with a balloon wielded - I assume a 2:45 pacer, then a 3:00 pacer, and then - hey! Bro! Dad! BRO! DAD! OVER HERE! BRO! DAD!

He was looking strong, having kept a pretty steady pace for the first 15km. Back at the apartment I carried on keeping tabs, while ABC ME kept the kids entertained. Kevin slowed down, then slowed down a bit more, then slowed down a bit more, then sprint finished his way to a 3:20:16 finish. Go Kevin!

40-odd minutes after finishing he phoned Alex, then a little while later grabbed me on messenger. He was back at the car and about to drive back. I’d handed their old apartment’s keys back to reception before 0930, so when he got back after midday I helped him collect the new ones and shift all their stuff across. He wasn’t exactly moving quickly.

After a shower for him, it was time for us all to go out. Harry was complaining that her stomach was rumbling so much it was painful, and tbh I was pretty damn starving too. Kevin needed to refuel, and celebrate, and not seize up. So with him failing to hail an Uber, I did so and a man drove us all to a brewery.

A family friendly brewery, what more do you want? Harry ran immediately up to the food van outside and asked if they served hot chips. Hot chips are her favourite food ever, it seems, and she was in luck. Inside we grabbed a table - there were many, the place had only been open 15 minutes or so - and ordered burgers, chips, soft drinks and beer. A man played music at us, we had more beer.

It’s a working brewery, and there even appeared to be a tour on - or maybe you’re just allowed to wander around, it didn’t seem like there was much to stop you doing so.

After 4 beers for the adults, and much much running around for the kids, we summoned another Uber to take us back to Burleigh. Apparently, someone wanted dessert. Perhaps a disgraceful doughnut?

Good lord, look at these things.

Bought another couple of cans of beer next door, and walked back to the apartments. With dusk falling, the trees were insanely loud with bird song the likes of which I’d never heard before. Well, maybe I had, I’m reminded of some craziness when we visited Costa Rica the other year. But it was still startling to me.

Once back, with all 4 of us being knackered there was no more socialising. Back in my own room I was delighted to discover that, on a Sunday at 5pm, TV shows WWE Smackdown. More wrestling! Hurrah! And since zero plans had been made for Monday except for the aforementioned pizza making classes for the kids in the morning, I was entitled to a lie-in in the morning too. Double hurrah!

Created By
Darren Foreman
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