My 12 Hours In Prison (OR A Friday Night Training Session)

13 Feb 99

Fairplay, Goodwill and Sportsmanship


It was about two weeks ago that I read in Base Routine Orders that theDepartment of Correctional Services staff at Yatala Prison were having a 24 hr Cyclathon and Walkathon to raise money for the Adelaide Women's and Childrens Hospital Neonatal Unit. I immediately thought "Yes , training session and Yes I can help to raise a few dollars at the same time". The two weeks came around and I was ready to go. I managed to collect about one hundred and fifty dollars in donations and my trusty crew of my wife and a friend from work were soon assembled.

I wasn't going to start until 8.00pm that night, but we got there early, so it was at 6.38pm that I started. The course was 1.6km in length and wound it's way around the outside of the prison fence. One was walking past a three metre high fence for the duration of the night which was topped with the most fierce looking razor wire. Just inside the fence was a series of floodlights which was spaced about every hundred metres and equipped with video cameras. There were also two more walls before one got to the inner prison. The prisoners would certainly have a marathon and a half to get out of the place.

The course was an old bitumen track which was starting to deterioate. It was an uphill/downhill course with a forty five degree climb for eight hundred metres on the back straight. It was slightly dangerous during the night as the lighting wasn't all that good and there were some nasty little pot holes near the fence. The prison is situated overlooking Adelaide, so it was quite a pleasant view.

Well I started and got away at my usual "Bull at a gate" pace. I was doing thirteen minute laps but we didn't think to slow down as we were still trying to verify how long the course was. There was quite a few cyclists going around and about a differrent walkers. Two guys were trying to do the 24 hrs. Both are accomplished walkers with the local Road Runners Club, but were starting to struggle with the heat they had put up with during the day.

It was about four hours into the Walk when I started to struggle with my brain and started to look for the easy cop out. I tried to suggest to Belinda ( my wife) that I would quit at 50km. My brain was soon put into perspective and I started to get a move on again. Nightfall slowed the pace down, due to the condition of the track. My walkman was getting a solid workout with my usual favourites and I was concentrating with the job on hand. I brought the Marathon up and then the 50km. My whole body was starting to hurt like hell, but I was desperately trying to work through the pains.

It was between 54 and 64km that my pace started to pick up again and I was doing over 6km an hour. Belinda did the occasional lap with me and my workmate, Matt also came out for a while. I had four laps to go to bring up my 72km and it looked as though the time was going to be very close. I did the first two in fifteen minutes each and was down to two laps with forty minutes left. Too easy! Not! It was in the second last lap when I seemed to take forever. I was by myself and starting to wander all over the place. I thought I had blown out to 25 minutes when I got to the crew area, when Belinda told me that it was twenty minutes. Twenty minutes to do the last lap. I didn't think I had it in me until Belinda came with me and my pace picked up once again. Well I got around the last lap and it was just before twenty to seven when I crossed the line. 72km in a shade over 12 hours. I was more than happy.

This was my first major outing since last August, so I was more than happy with my performance. It gave me a guideline on the work I have to do. One of the other walker spulled out a midnight and the other walker ended up walking 120 plus kilometres. His previous longest distance had been 30 kilometres in a Fun Run. Now to convince him to do a 24 hr on a proper track. The prison officers ended up raising about ten thousand dollars which will certainly help the NeoNatal Unit. All in all, a good training run (Walk).

Phil Essam 




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