Running in Melbourne: getting burned at The Tan

August 21, 2010

On Tuesday I decided to test myself against Craig Mottram, Australia’s best distance runner.

Craig was not actually present for my challenge, but he didn’t need to be. He owns the fastest known time for a single lap of the Tan Track, a popular running and walking loop in Melbourne, and I figured that I should find out how fast I can do it.

Craig’s best time at “The Tan” is 10:08. I wanted to break 12 minutes so that I could claim to have done it in “11 something,” seemingly just a tad slower than the “10 something” recorded by the three-time Olympian.

The loop is 3.827 kilometers in length according to its start/finish marker. To go under 12 minutes I would need to maintain a pace of 3:08 per kilometer, or 5:03 per mile. I was just barely doing that for the first 0.85K or so, and then I reached the Anderson Street hill, lost a couple of seconds to a truck entering a driveway, and then lost a bunch of additional seconds to the minute-long climb. A sub-12 time was no longer a realistic possibility.

As I pushed onward, I estimated that sub-12:30 was now the best I could hope for. When I reached the 3.5K marker in 11:30, I knew that I had less than 60 seconds to run the last 327 meters. But was that realistic? In my end-of-lap fatigue, and not used to thinking in terms of 327-meter segments, I couldn’t tell. I reached the start/finish post and stopped my watch. 12:30. Dang.

It was disappointing to be that much slower than Craig. On the other hand, this was his “home course,” and I haven’t been training specifically for distances as short as this one. A more typical workout for me would be something like ten consecutive laps at a steady pace. So that’s what I did on Friday: ten laps in a row. I finished in 2:41:00 — not a race-like effort, but a solid workout nonetheless.

Craig, you are welcome to try to match or exceed that whenever you’re in the mood.


  1. Brilliant post.

  2. so Craig's 3000m split on a hilly course was 7:56.6?for a 5000 that would be a 13:14I guess that's possible, but damn…. !

  3. Uli,Craig's PB for 5k is 12:55 and 3k is 7:32. On the track to be fair but….

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