The Westlink M7 is an urban toll motorway that runs through the major cities of Blacktown, Eastern Creek and Prestons here in Sydney's West. It is a 40-km stretch from the suburb of Baulkham Hills to Prestons itself. The vehicular speed limit is 100 kph and 110 in some parts. If not overtaking, one should stay on the left outermost lane.
But what excites me about the M7 is the uninterrupted pedestrian and bike lane that runs with the motorway. 40 km of pure runners' and cyclists' delight.
Together with a friend of mine last Saturday, we ran 10 miles in the chilly autumn air of the M7. I have to say that the "cycleway" (its common name) is a great place to run a long slow distance, or LSD. The route is mostly flat with some elevations.
Groups of cyclists in their road bikes speed through us with a precedent "On your right!" and "Good day, mates!" with a few runners in between. What a spectacular route that was, the enveloping warm sunshine a much needed comfort to the chilly 9-degree air. The well maintained asphalt provided a soft and easy grip on my trainers.
The cycleway is such a great place to train that a marathon, which traces its history in the 80s, is now accepting registrations online for the July 2012 Westlink M7 Cities Marathon utilizing the same route we ran.
This is the ideal marathon challenge for me. It's a small race with a scenic route. However, temperatures around this time of the year hover around 10 degrees Celsius with the average finishing times from last year's race at a speedy 3:57!
It's funny that assuming I train religiously for the 4:30 finish, I would still be below average.
Anyway, with the recent spate of a still healing Achilles Tendonitis, I am bypassing the race this year.
Looking ahead, this race is a better alternative.
But for now, long run weekends will have to do.