Across the Lake, Lake Macquarie
Gaol Break Swim, South West Rocks
Shark Island Classic, Cronulla
This photograrph can mean only one thing: That's right: Glistening Dave was in South West Rocks at swim time.
Our cobber, Moose, who used to live in Paris, says the best way to fall out of love with a place is to live there. With that in the back of our mind, we headed to South West Rocks, for the first time in several years, to take part in the Gaol Break Swim.
We love our weekends in South West Rocks. We’d like to live there, hence the apposition of Moose’s advice.
There’s always a festivity about our weekends in South West Rocks. We have good friends there in the personages of Lord Ron of Riverside and his good ladywife, the Lady Robyn. We usually have cobbers attending, too, such as The Sports Mistress, who drives down from Brunswick Heads, from her eyrie behind and above the Brunswick Heads Hotel. She’s cobbers with their Lord and Ladyships, too. This year, MojitoNo9 came up from Sydney, too, along with MissCaddy, both members, along with Mrs Sparkle, of the Sunrise Sisters. And Glistening Dave came, with his ladywife, northern beaches pianist, Liz (haven’t got a name for her yet; she needs to hang out with us a bit more. She walks and plays: Perhaps she should be The Foot Tapper).
One reason for the Sunrise Sisters to attend was that they’re all into stand-up paddling nowadays and South West Rocks is a very good place to get into SUPing in the surf. The eastern end of Trial Bay offers some of the most SUP-friendly conditions on the coast for early stage SUPers: there’s a long, gentle break, that just rolls and rolls and rolls. You can catch a gentle roller there and run for hundreds of metres, if you’re deft. Ten years ago, we took our kids, oceanswims.com com jr 1, oceanswims.com jr a, and Little Miss oceanswims.com, for a week-long holiday there, as our olds had done for us when we were nippers. We were out in that bay one morning, and we were showing our kids how to catch waves, when a gentle roller picked up the wave ski on which oceanswims.com jr a was sitting and thrust him a couple of hundred metres in towards the beach. The sound of his hysterical laughter as he zoomed into the distance, in no control whatsoever, at the sudden, unexpected thrill of that ride is with us still. That alone made it worthwhile.
That end of the bay is well-protected from the worst of the sea. Indeed, the beach by the gaol is the only beach on Stra’a’s east coast that faces west, so you can surf there all day then laze on the beach and watch the sun set over the bay, Mt Yarahapinee and the Macleay Valley in the distance. The Sunrise Sisters loved it. Mind you, their nerves were shaken after a SUP on Sat’dee when they ventured from our caravan park, along the back creek towards the sea. There were urchins jumping off a footbridge into the creek, and as the Sunrise Sisters lurched past, they used them for target practice, just like in The Cruel Sea. Days later, they’re still complaining about aches and bruises caused by sudden changes in direction and weight distribution from attempting to fox the urchins, who were lining them up on approach, by scooting under a different arch than they one towards which they’d feinted.
Anyway, we didn’t have hordes with us in South West Rocks, but we certainly had enough for a branch meeting of the ALP, given the state of political parties at the grassroots these days. We had a quorum to hand for festive gatherings at our favourite spot on the NSW coast, The Riverside Tavern. We were three nights in South West Rocks, and we had three nights at the Riverside Tavern, although one of those nights was pre-dinner drinks prior to dinner along the riverfront. On Sat’dee, there were 13 of us around the table. Some years ago, we ran a bit of a weekend including a dinner at the Riverside Tavern where we had c. 30 mug punters.
Lord Ron and the Lady Robyn are called that because of their aristocratic bearing. They moved to South West Rocks 12 years ago from Sydney’s eastern suburbs, and both of them, tall, distinguished, and virile – Ron is 75 this Sundee -- have an air about them that shouts: Born to rule. So whilst they didn’t have the piece of paper from the palace attesting to their status, certainly they carry it off. Their surname is Royle. So it must be in ‘em.
(So good, too, that now we can be more open about their Lord and Ladyships. We used to be coy because they really don’t want anyone to feel overwhelmed in their presence, but Tony Abbott has made us feel so much better about that kind of stuff, that we can come out and acknowledge their status openly, pay obeisance to the heads of our manor, although we’re drawing the line at rent, Your Grace. Hey, maybe now Tone can send off to the palace for those bits of paper? Lordship could paste it onto the wall of his garage, to make it official, like, and he could gaze at it wistfully as he tinkers with his Honda S800C. Can you imagine the aristocratically forthright Lord Ron and his Lady Robyn crammed into a Honda S800C? We’ve seen it.)
Why do we like South West Rocks? We holidayed there as nippers with our family, and our dog, Robbie, a tricolour collie. Whilst we slept, Robbie used to raid the neighbours eskies. We always had fresh meat for brekker. (Mind you, when we arrived home, we found one of those neighbours had nicked Rotten ol’ Herbie’s spare tyre.)
It’s a quiet, seaside, beachside town, where nowhere is out of the call of the waves. They might be through the trees; across the wetlands; past the town; over the hill; but the background to South West Rocks is the symphony of the surf: breaking and crashing and rolling across the banks and onto the rocks, into the beach.
South West Rocks is at the end of the road, so there’s no through traffic. And there are beaches and beaches everywhere: ocean beaches where you battle to get through the break, even on a small day, and bay beaches facing north and west. There’s good diving – Fish Rock just offshore, beneath Smoky Cape Lighthouse -- good fishing, there’s the sea and the river, there’s lots of local produce, a bit of herbally stuff going on, not that we’re into that, and between school holiday times, it’s very, very quiet. So quiet, in fact, that local business people, it’s said, either go bust or have heart attacks from the seasonality of their trade. The Lady Robyn reckons we’d go barmy if we moved up there, but Lord Ron reckons it’s the best move he’s ever made. We figure – we figure – maybe we should rent there for six months and see whether we like it. It would be like a six-months holiday.
Also, the surf club has one of the best bars on the coast: a bit like Bilgola’s, they’ve taken a surf boat, cut the middle out of it, and positioned it as the surf club bar, the taps rising out of the rowlocks. There’s also good gelato in town. Visit Chillati.
Looking north from the headland above South West Rocks Beach. Coffs is just up there.
The Lord Ron and Lady Robyn love having us in town, too. Whenever we’re all around, Lord Ron, comes over all host-like. He has to make speeches, like. Directing hospitality.
That bit probably isn’t in ‘im, though. The first morning of the Gaol Break SwimFest, with Lady Robyn off at her vegetable soup class (water-robics), ‘is Lordship took it on ‘imself to offer brekker to The Sports Mistress, who was bunkeying over downstairs.
(Frippery courtesy Glistening Dave.)
“Lookie here,” says Lordship, in that tally-ho voice you hear on old black-and-white English movies about fox hunts, pulling a colourful box out of the pantry. “Here’s some jolly good looking cereal for brekker! Let me fill your bowl, (Sports Mistress)…” And he fills her bowl, pouring the cereal and topping it with fresh Macleay Valley milk.
A fitness freak, she shoveled a spoonful into her gob. “My,” said The Sports Mistress, crunching gingerly on her “country müsli”, picking bits of tooth from her mouth as she masticated the first spoonful. “This IS crunchy, Your Grace”, which was hardly surprising since, as the Lady Robyn pointed out on her return, Lord Ron had filled the bowl from a box of lorikeet seed. It’s the thought that counts, isn’t it.
To be fair, we can't expect people like them to be good at things like that.
The Gaol Break Swim is one of the noicest swims you’ll ever do. One of the characteristics of the water around South West Rocks is its clarity. So clear, you can count the grains of sand on the bottom as you schlepp along. So clear, you can identify the sea life nestled into the corrugations rather than just guess at them from their indistinct shapes as you float above. So much sea life, in fact, that you must step gingerly, Steve Irwin in mind, as you enter the sea through the frothing break, feeling tentatively across the corrugations for the peaks, because many of the troughs are resting places for everything from common old sand rays to shovel-nosed sharks (guitar fish). Mrs Sparkle stood on one once. We couldn’t tell who was more alarmed.
Our friend, Cecily, who swims in a stinger suit, was gamboling in the surf there one day, her hubby, Chris, watching from the beach. As Cecily rose over an imminently breaking swell, Chris saw the outline of a shark chasing school fish just along the face in the same swell. It’s that kind of place. In Sundee’s swim, awginizah Bob Ryan told us afterwards that a “3m shark” had been chased away from the back of the peloton. We were at the back of the peloton. We’re still here.
But we leap ahead: one of the excellent things about South West Rocks is that there are plenty of swim courses and beaches on offer. As well as the main 2.6km swim along Trial Bay, from the Gaol along to the Rocks, there’s also a 200m swim off the beach – you could circumnavigate Stingray Rock, perhaps – and there’s a 700m swim around the Rocks from the main beach into Horseshoe Bay. That’s a beautiful swim in itself. We wonder why, with so many punters coming for the weekend from out of town, why South West Rocks SLSC doesn’t make more of the shorter swims, running them, say, on the Sat’dee, with the main swim on the Sundee, so visiting punters feel better able to do them all. There’s also a potential course from the breakwater by the Macleay river mouth, along the beach, around and across Horseshoe Bay and into the Rocks.
The water generally always is clear here. We’ve seen it murky, but only after heavy rain, when the lagoon breaks out, or during a black nor’-easterly, which blows directly into the beach. It stirs up the bottom and you see nothing past your elbow. But it’s sand, not muck.
But generally, the water is the clearest we’ve swum in Stra’a away from the Great Barrier Reef (read: Heron Island, the Great Barrier Reef Swim in October). The main swim, the Gaol Break Swim, starts in the corner of the bay near the gaol, then runs along behind the break, 2.6km to South West Rocks. There’s a 3-swimmer relay component in the swim, too, and there are key marker booees about 900m apart, set behind the break, marking both the course and the relay changeover points. It’s impossible to get lost in this swim: you just keep the beach on your left, and don’t veer too far out to sea. It’s impossible to cheat: you have to get from one end of the beach to the other, and provided you swim it, and don’t get out and “jog”, then everyone must swim the same course.
Yes, it really is the simplest of courses, and it really doesn’t need to be complicated by superfluous markers. That’s been it’s only drawback over the years: that the organisers, in order to be as helpful as possible in defining the course, have actually made it more complicated than it needs to be. The last time we did this swim, probably four years ago, the first two placegetters were disqualified because they swam the wrong side of a guide marker. Not a turning booee: just a guide. It made no difference to the distance swum; no-one derived an unfair advantage. But the rules are the rules.
This is why we come to South West Rocks... It's the culcha, at the Riverside Tavern. Lord Ron and 'er Ladyship at this end.
One of the problems is, it’s hard to tell what the rules are. The chap briefing us before the start, for example, pointed out that, as well as the changeover points, there also were a series of small booees, dark red balls the size of lawn bowls, with dark red sticks and dark red pennants atop them. They were guides between the marker booees, he said. The idea was that you must swim inside those little markers, but outside the changeover booees. The problem was, you couldn’t see the dark red guide booees. They were small and dark, and the pennants didn’t fly because there wasn’t much wind. We reckon you can always tell a course that’s set by someone who doesn’t swim: you might be able to see markers from above the water, from a boat, but it’s very different spotting them when you’re in the water. Only swimmers know that. And only someone with swimming experience will know what will work and what won’t.
We asked the briefer how many there were of these little, dark red booees with listless pennants, so we could count them off as we passed, as a guard against missing them. He wasn’t sure. We said to him, “You know we can’t see those booees?’ And he said, “I don’t know; I’m not a swimmer.” He was frank.
Actually, his name was Jim. Seemed like a nice chap. He told us those little, dark red booees, with the listless, dark red pennants atop were strung all the way along the course to South West Rocks. We saw none after the first relay changeover. We just kept slogging along, because we knew where to go, straight through the patch of blueys strung across the course pretty right about the half way point. There’s a terrible anticipation about blueys. If you’ve been warned they’re there, you will tense all the way until you hit them. Then, after you hit them, you tense as you wait to be hit again. We were hit twice. The stings weren’t bad, although others felt them more keenly. Ask Glistening Dave, who copped one across his face and had to stop whilst he pulled the threads free.
Come to think of it, there may be a lesson here. We rarely are stung, and even then, only on the middle to lower parts of our body. We wonder whether this is because we keep our heads down, listlessly floating as a means of relaxing our neck and shoulders, a relaxation that then flows through the body. John Konrads taught us this. Dave, on the other had, tends to swim a bit head up. It’s partly his style, which is… very hard to describe. Suffice to say, when he’s swimming towards you he looks like an albatross struggling to get off the water. But his head is higher. Dave doesn’t know about streamlining, you see. Actually he has been told by his one and only coach, years ago during lunchtime squads at North Sydney Pool, but he was too busy steadfastly not listening to us, on principle, so he never heard what we had to say. At the same time, Mrs Sparkle was with him in the lane fomenting dissent from the coach. You know the type: she whispers into the ears of fellow swimmers, conspiratorially and sinisterly, prompting them to dissent, so she’s free of the blame.
There was another surprise when we reached the finish, too: we’d been briefed at the start that there would be a string of surf carnival surf race booees strung, we thought, parallel to the beach, along which we must swim, and around the end of which we then turn into the beach. They actually were set perpendicular to the beach, and there were two, large booees, lying on their side, acting as gates. They were British racing green, but they’d been wrapped in blue tarp. What colour is the sea? Blue, just like a blue tarp. On their side, especially, not only did they catch us by surprise, but they were almost impossible to see until you reached them. The water safety laddies were very helpful in directing us, though. They were very attentive throughout the swim.
Those booees are put there to be helpful, by awginizahs who are keen to mark the course clearly. But sometimes, attempts to mark the course clearly have the opposite effect for swimmers, and this was a prime example. This swim really just needs three, big booees: one for each changeover point, and one behind the break off the finish line. Solo swimmers keep the two relay changeover booees on their right shoulder, then round the final one on their left, into the beach. Relay swimmers, both finishing and starting, keep those booees all on their left, so each swimmer must round their allotted booees.
Indeed, there’s another idea for a swim option at South West Rocks: Why not do the relay swim one day, and the solo swim the next. That way, all us festive visiting swimmers can organise ourselves into teams and do the course relay one day and solo the next. Throw in a couple of short swims, and lo and behold, we have the Gaol Break SwimFest.
Now, does anyone have a toothpick? We have a grain of millet caught under a tooth…
Lots of fish
Jen Gwynne's course c. Shark Island.
We were really looking forward to the 2014 Shark Island swim. We’ve done it before, and it was good. We did have some trepidation about the $45 entry fee, and the predicted arrival of a major swell event. But in the end we coughed up, and we needn’t have worried. The major swell event was a bit of a fizzer and in any case, they’re a tough lot in the Shire, they’d probably run it in a cyclone.
After our swim preparation (we mean, gasbagging), we lined up with our starting wave, the pre-codgers. Less than 10 minutes after the first wave had gone, the pre-codgers were off. Brilliant! Four waves, 3 minutes between each wave. Makes so much sense. Makes one so much happier than hanging around in the sun or rain for 45 minutes, like at some other swims.
We splashed into the shallow sand shelf that is the southern end of Cronulla beach, and of course, the “major swell event” chose that moment to prove that it wasn’t a complete dud, that there was in fact some life in it and that it was going to have to show that to the hundred or so undie-wearing idiots that were currently running towards it. As we splashed over the ankle-deep shallows and foundered into the knee-deep shallows, a couple of waves rose up in front of us. They held up nicely in the slight offshore breeze, curled overhead as we timed our dive, and we were under and out through the break with a minimum of fuss and a feeling of satisfaction.
We stayed wide on that first leg. We’ve had some experience with this swim before, and it would be fair to say that it is invariably one of the most bruising swims on the calendar. We don’t know why. We do know that 2014 proved no exception. It seems we didn’t stay out quite wide enough. We were well and truly smashed in the face by some idiot’s elbow, as he swam into us on his way to the first buoy. In fact he hit us so hard that if we hadn’t been wearing goggles we would probably have damaged an eye. He didn’t stop of course. This is Cronulla. Not some wussy flower-power place.
Anyways we didn’t lose the eye, and apart from having to stop and fix our goggles, the rest of the swim out to the first buoy was fine. A bit up and down at first, as that long-period easterly swell made itself known, but as the bottom dropped away below, so did the effects of the swell.
The next leg was great fun. We set off southwards and every time we looked up to check where we were, there was a giant beach ball in front of us. It was almost too easy. We followed the line of giant beach balls, there was plenty of space in which to avoid the leg-pulls and the elbows, and we watched in awe as we came close to the Island and sandy sediment rose up to rocky reef.
We got to the southern end and that easterly swell started making itself known once again. We watched with amusement as the fish and rocks and reeds went left and right in our frame of vision as each swell pushed across us, on its way to giving some surfer a happier day.
We rounded the buoy at the south end of the Island and headed towards the shore. We thought at this point the swim would be easy, a nice little trot into the shallows with the swell behind us, but we was wrong. There seemed to be a bit of a current coming off the back of that Island that kept wanting to take us south. Either that or our navigation was awful. We figured this out after a bit and adjusted our course accordingly.
Round the third turn and we headed north between the Island and the shore. We figured this bit would be easy too, and sheltered from that swell, but we was wrong again. Must have been some north in that swell, or maybe just a current, but we had to work hard along that section and it was still a bit up and down. The fish and rock formations and algae kept us company though, as we plugged along, and it was a joy to swim.
North of the Island, the rock shelf dropped away again and the swimming became easy, although it was sad to leave the fish and rocks and water plants behind.
We rounded the final turning buoy and headed for the shore. And at last that swell came into its own. We felt like we were almost a part of the ocean as it flowed over us and pushed us towards the beach. It even gave us a small wave to catch in the last few metres before the sand. Perfect timing, on the final leg of a challenging swim.
Once more around an "island”. This is another of those swims that, whilst starts and ends on the one beach, it has a sense of a journey to it - and this one in particular goes out and around the point (no longer in view of the starting beach) before coming back. It feels like you have been somewhere, and it makes it interesting as it’s not a beach I swim at regularly.
The day dawned a little cloudy but still warm and with still air, so the journey south beckoned. A quick stop for a local coffee & pastry - and then another to pickup my friend, and we were on our way. Linda had trained for the Stanwell swim - which was cancelled - so this was her first longer distance swim and it looked like conditions would be nigh on perfect.
We had an easy trip there - at that time of day you would expect it - and found a parking spot up the hill and around the corner from the beach, with a pathway giving us easy access to the waterfront walkway and a great view over the beach. Before heading down to register, we walked to the right and followed the path around to the point which gave us a view of the course and Shark Island. There were bodyboard riders on the break off the cliff and surfers on the break just off the island. It looked beautiful. The course buoys didn’t make a great deal of sense from on high - there seemed to be a lot of them out there - but I figured that some were for the 1km swim, some for the 2km, and the round giant beach balls were intended as course guides only. It would make more sense when you look at the map and were briefed.
Not having been able to register online on Saturday morning, I found no problems on the day - registration was easy - inside was a quick form to fill in, pay and then collect cap, be numbered and helped with the timing band on the ankle we were ready to go. It was still early: plenty of time before the swim. Outside, there were piles of the Sunday Telegraph so many registered and ankle-banded swimmers were relaxing in the sun and enjoying a read of the paper with coffee in hand. Very Sunday morning indeed.
I wandered for a bit and took some snaps - with only the phone this time as old trusty waterproof camera was no longer trusty (or waterproof) - and the day got sunnier, brighter and hotter. Hard to believe that this was March, really. I must admit to loving this time of year, not so hot and often the water is warmer than the middle of summer.
The safety briefing was held on the sand. I love that the guy in charge took the approach of, “You all know what you have to do - and how to do it - so I’m not going to give you specific directions. Just remember that there are swimmers here today that have never swum this race before or never swum an ocean swim before - so they will take confidence from you - that you know what you are doing and how to do it”, or words to that effect (actually better, but I just can’t remember them!). Then they were briefed by another on the course and what/who was expected where (couldn’t hear that bit clearly as wasn’t close enough). They had a map/diagram of the water safety along the course to refer to and they were ready. As were the swimmers.
Meanwhile, Linda had come without sunnies - so we wandered up the hill to the mall in search of a cheap pair (success) and then we walked back down for the start of the 1km swim.
The kids led the way for this one, and they went running down the beach (as the tide was out there was a bit of a run both in and out of the water) with alacrity. This first wave also had the young guns as well and everyone was off and racing. The next wave were a little more sedate but no less enthusiastic to enter the water. That was it. Now, just to wait for the return of the swimmers. Now, one thing to say is that this didn’t take long. It felt as if only moments had gone by (I think it was about 11 mins) before the first swimmer returned. Amazing swimming.
Anyway, just before 10am, they were bringing the larger buoys back in from that course as the last of the swimmers were almost at the shore. That made the longer course layout a little clearer from the shore. Following another briefing, the water safety crew took to to the water and swimmers donned their caps and downed their sunnies and hats.
It was time.
Funny, really. Never ceases to make me nervous standing on a start line. I always intend to "just enjoy the swim" but once you get down to the line it’s hard not to race. In my age group, there are some very good, experienced and fast swimmers so I’m not in the running, but I still want to do the swim, enjoy it, do a good time, perhaps improve a little.
Anyway, we watch the starting waves ahead - and I note that some head over to the right of the course and am not sure if they intended that or there is a drift. Actually, I was a little busy talking. I ran straight in toward the buoy, although I did notice there were others that did run in over to the right (perhaps a helpful rip I knew nothing about - I didn’t do a warmup). I found myself heading towards someone on a board; they were pointing us to veer right. Who knows? My goggles had fogged anyway: the temp difference between the hot air and the water! I could see the big yellow buoy in the distance and it was straight out... so I kept going. But it definitely wasn’t straight. There was a drift to the right, so one minute I was sighting the buoy directly ahead and the next it was to my left. I had to constantly correct my course. I felt like I should be able to hold it better, surely, but only the map would tell me how it really looks, so just keep on sighting, keep on swimming and get to the buoy. At some point, a quick slow down to clear the goggles (they didn’t fog up again; never normally do). I did feel a little distracted by the large white boat behind the buoy or, rather, off to the right side: it was the largest thing on the horizon and easy to see; it probably lined up perfectly for the swimmers on my left, but not for me. Therefore - wait for the water to lift me slightly, check the buoy, correct my course, swim on. This, then, took all my attention for the first 10 minutes or so: keeping a course, correcting, drifting, correcting again, swimming on, then finally making the turn right to the south.
This, then, was easier, for a while anyway. As I got further over, I was swimming across the reef/rockshelf. It seemed so close this time as the tide was low heading to high (but had only just turned). I felt as if I could reach out and touch it, the water was so clear and the undersea so full of colour and life. The only problem was that the water had it’s own ebb and flow, and at times it felt like you were going nowhere fast, or nowhere at all. I glanced to either side of me to see whether there was a better place to be, but couldn’t see anyone on my left, and nothing on my right to justify moving. So it was just enjoy it (and slog it out). The buoy was ahead: look above it, find a high point on the hill, and make it easier to keep a course. It felt like it took a while but eventually it was time to turn, and head to the next, using the four pines on the hill.
This bit I loved: the water movement was pushing you along and then a lull; the life underneath me was constantly changing and moving and the course could be kept with the big trees making it so easy. But it was short and sweet: we turned right soon enough and headed north again. It was still beautiful, and distracting. I kept thinking "fish" and then I had to laugh as I had the mental image of Dog from the movie "UP" who kept saying "squirrel" and stopping and pointing. It"s not that I haven’t seen fish before, and in a lot of places where I swim there are plenty of fish. But the joy of swimming in the ocean with the fish just doesn’t seem to fade. So it was "fish" all along until the view changed and it was more about getting a sighting of the red buoy and keeping a course. It helped that I had a few swimmers near me that held a good course, too. I wasn’t so much following them but swimming with them, or at least until they moved away or pulled ahead or I just lost track of them.
The red buoy was a little elusive at times. The sunlight glinting on the water and into my eyes made it harder. But the handy giant beach balls proved their worth: they led us to the buoy. There was also that big white boat again, but it was moving slowly so that wasn’t any good to sight. But all was good, and soon enough it was time to turn left and head for home. Not long after I was passed by a couple of speedier green caps. I caught some bubbles for a bit (it’s nice to swim sometimes without looking up all the time: just follow the bubbles and watch the sandy floor as you pass), but they faded quickly and I was sighting my own run behind them using the ever-present pine trees to guide me.
The bright red finish line stood out on the beach from way back: line it up with a tree on the hill and it’s a fun run in. The water had push and pull all the way. The tide was coming in by now and there were even a few small waves at the end to take you up the beach. A small stumble after getting to my feet (there can be shallow gutters along this beach that can catch the unwary) and the run up the sand and through the finish.
Gosh, that was nice. A cold water was handed to me and the ankle strap cut off, and it was over.
I had time to grab my phone/camera and head back to the finish so I could catch Linda finishing a short time later, and enjoy also watching all the other swimmers emerging from the water and crossing the line. There was a lot of cheering from a group of locals nearby for their friends as they finished - with calls to smile for the camera. A couple who came up holding hands to celebrate their finish together; two mates in green caps that did the same, I think perhaps so they crossed together and neither beat the other; some running; some running even harder to try to improve their time, maybe; some walking, stumbling, strolling, hopping with help; but pretty much all smiling and happy.
Made me smile too.
Anyway, it was time to go.
But first, a coffee.
Angela van Boxtel did Lake Macquarie...
For her blob... click here
Greg Hincks in Smif sandwich at Lake Macquarie...
For his blob... click here
Pics by Glistening Dave (South West Rocks) and Jen Gwynne (Shark Island).