Running the train routes of Melbourne

Goal umpire Cyrus Wong has covered over 1,350 kilometres running the train routes of Melbourne! And just when he thought he had finished Public Transport Victoria issued a new train network map…

When one hears comments about public transport in Melbourne, it is usually about disruptions caused by a new level crossing replacement, the slow average speed of our tram network, or some delay or cancellation affecting services. So it was a great surprise to hear some good news when it came to light that one of our umpires recently completed running the Melbourne tram and train network.

And it wasn’t a field or boundary umpire, but our own goal umpire Cyrus who covered over 1,350 kilometres from March to December.

The first question that springs to mind for any sane person is, ‘WHY?’

Disappointed that his regular training was not providing the desired results, even though he put everything into his pre-season training, feeling somewhat disheartened, Cyrus re-evaluated his approach to training. Peter Balding, retired VFL game record holder, suggested he do some long distance running, so Cyrus, not a natural runner, decided to commit to doing a 60-minute running session every two days.

Cyrus ran along the Outer Circle Rail Trail, which was a short-lived railway line that ran between Camberwell and Fairfield – and that planted the seed for what was to eventuate. Not even Peter Balding would have dreamed this up! Cyrus decided that, with his 60-minute target in mind, he’d run Zone 1 before the football season ended. He soon realised that with the above target, he would be covering more ground than he thought he would. So with some well-founded logic, he decided, ‘Stuff it, let’s do the lot!’ The train network soon included the tram network as he found it was hard to run in some places during the darker winter months.

Like with anyone who uses public transport, there were many challenges along the way. The weather caught him out on many occasions – remember how cold, windy and wet our winter and spring was in 2016? – and, with nature calling and railway station bathrooms closed, the closest restaurant or servo was required. Cyrus also recalled times he’d taken the wrong turn as Google Maps didn’t indicate that a certain path existed, the path was waterlogged beside some railway track or it ended at a fence which required climbing over or crawling under. He also took his bike light to get by in the winter months and avoided contact with some interesting characters lurking around the transport system.

Once started, Cyrus was motivated to finish. Also, in the context of each run, knowing that he could miss a tram or train unless he ran at a certain pace was a great motivator. He recalls having to run hard to get to Stony Point or face more than an hour’s wait for the next train. He made it with seconds to spare.

Cyrus doesn’t think he would do it again. He recalls a cold, dark run around Kororoit Creek Road, through Melbourne’s petrochemical heartland in Altona, and feels that despite seeing a lot of Melbourne and its unique and fascinating architecture he would try something different next time. He has other ideas in mind and is open to other suggestions, even though he turned down my suggestion to run the Qantas routes.

On a lighter side, Cyrus says he’d be a rich man if he got a dollar for every time he heard, ‘Run Forrest, run!’ He also ran into a number of people he knows along the way and visited the house from The Castle with Peter Balding. During the Finals, he got score updates from the Geelong v Hawthorn final on pubs along Plenty Road and saw Isaac Smith’s kick after the siren at the end of the run at the Terminus Hotel in Clifton Hill.

Cyrus observed that the public transport system is fairly reliable and he was surprised at how far he could travel with his myki card. However, certain sections were slow and he recalled how he kept pace with trams caught up in traffic on a number of his runs.

Is Cyrus the first to ever do this? We’re not sure but l am sure he is the first VFL umpire to do it.

Cyrus had just completed the network when Public Transport Victoria issued a new train network map. To his dismay, it now includes V-Line services to Wandong, Riddells Creek, Bacchus Marsh and Lara within Myki Zone 2. Is there an urge to complete some unfinished business?

Indeed…..Cyrus has set his sights on completing the newly-added ‘metropolitan’ lines, as well as the Healesville to Yarra Glen route, Hastings to Somerville, Red Hill to Balnarring and Puffing Billy – half of which he’ll do as part of this year’s Great Train Race.

Cyrus, congratulations on an outstanding effort!!!

Peter Kelly