What a lovely afternoon in Canberra! Intermittent bursts of sunshine, moderately warm with a light breeze and clear views across the lake to the Brindabellas beyond …
… except the race wasn’t held this afternoon: it was run in the morning, which showed altogether another face of Winter in Canberra – cold, blustery, rain squalls swirling from stressed clouds bustling over a fretful, surly lake. Bodies didn’t want to emerge from warm cars and jackets, pens refused to write, the computer timing system staged a defiant strike, barbecue gas bottles emitted more sound than heat as marquees strained to hurtle, yearning to fly free.
Yet in the path of these obstacles stood one compelling force to overwhelm them all: the spirit of a hundred runners gathered for a prize far more challenging – self-conquest. Accordingly, bodies duly emerged, pens grudgingly inscribed, the timing system reluctantly resuscitated, pancake mix started to thaw on the barbecue and all the marquees stayed ultimately in their appointed places.
Because the runners appeared, the race happened.
The one mile loop course around Lennox Gardens is certainly scenic: on a day like today it is also an adventure. Every time around, the waves prepared a new dance spectacular; every time around, the headwind struck from a fresh angle; every time around, there were ever more reasons to affirm and savour the simple, elemental joy that is the soul of running.
While we might run this course twenty times on fine days and not remember anything about it, none of us will forget today in a hurry… congratulations to one and all who turned out to run, support, cheer and help at what grew into a truly memorable occasion.
13 might be an unlucky number for some, but it is certainly a magic number when counting down 1-mile laps of a Half-Marathon!
From the outset it was clear that Penny Slater was running in another plane from the rest of the women’s Half-Marathon field. Zipping around among the faster men, her final time of 1:26:11 is one of the best races ever witnessed at this event, placing her 4th outright: her focus and determination throughout were surpassed only by her style and grace. 2nd woman was Lauren Evans with a gutsy 1:35:44, from Amanda McCormack’s effort of 1:36:41. Tracie Scarlett-Arundell was best among the Female 50-59 in 1:49:55; while the ever-classy Robyn McClelland took home the main prize in the Female 60-69 with her 2:10:17.
In the men’s race, Stephen Kiley’s strength and experience saw him prevail with 1:24:59, from a wholehearted run of 1:25:29 from Andrew Leigh, eclipsing David Beaven’s 1:25:45. Chris Gammon led home the Male 50-59 with 1:39:48, just 6 seconds adrift of the indefatigable Peter Clarke taking out the Male 60-69 in 1:39:42; while Jim White is settling into his new Male 70 and Over role nicely with a 1st-placed 2:14:06.
Tim Barnett and Jonathan Fearn enjoyed a tight tussle in the 2 mile race, with both breaking the old course record despite the conditions: Tim prevailing in a new course-best 10:50 from Jonathan’s 10:53. Nicholas Thauvette took out the Boys Under 17 in 13:21, and Eric de Fombelle the competitive Boys Under 13 cohort with 14:32.
Meanwhile Ashleigh van de Meulengraaf won the women’s 2 mile race in an excellent 13:33, ahead of 2nd placed Katherine Maundrell, who also won the Girls Under 17 with 14:37.
The outstanding performance in the 5-lap race came from Steve Rohan-Jones, who set a new Male 50-59 course record with his fine run of 30:44, which placed him 3rd outright behind male winner, the sprightly Mark Stevens (28:34) and 2nd-placed Daniel Carson (29:12). Ewen Thompson was fastest among the Male 60-69 with 43:59, while David Iverach took out the Male 70 and Over with a stirling run of 40:39 (faster than all the M60-69s).
Kim Cayzer was a clear champion in the women’s 5 mile dash with her impressive 36:31, form Kate McConchie’s 39:59. Sally Thauvette meanwhile won the Female 50-59 in 42:28; Jennifer Kellett took home the Female 60-69 main prize with 43:06; and Caroline Campbell added to her impressive list of records by establishing a wonderful new Best Time for Female 70 and Over of 53:07 (Caroline also holds the F60-69 and the F70+ records for the Half-Marathon at this event).
Our special gratitude to all helpers and well-wishers who swallowed whatever was served up by the conditions, to play a fine “supporting role” in the day’s drama.