Was it a dream?
It’s the day after the Sri Chinmoy Mara-Fun Relays in Centennial Park for 2019, and I’m having to pinch myself to be sure that such joyful, thrilling and inspiring drama really happened yesterday.
Yes the weather was sublime, and yes, the venue, location and course are perfect for this event. What was remarkable was the pervading happiness – authentic, compelling, energising happiness – of the day’s very breath.
This was an event which truly, absolutely lived up to and even transcended its name. Every runner – whether tackling the mountain which is the Solo Marathon, or giving his or her all to their relay team’s cause – appeared as though they would rather be nowhere else and doing nothing in preference to exactly what we were all here for: partaking in a festival of shared aspiration, inspiration, perspiration and celebration.
RESULTS: THE SOLO MARATHON
A newcomer received a surprise gift for the effort of his debut marathon: Martin Vu led the race from the outset and was never threatened to take the prime podium position in the men’s race with his strong and consistent 2:52:46 on what is not a fast course. 2nd came Wayne Calvert with 2:57:40, with Jason Cutajar 3rd in 3:07:47. David Bell was the fastest of the Male 50-59 with 3:35:10; only just ahead of the Male 60-69 winner, the impressive Kieron Blackmore’s 3:36:07; while the prolific Ray James backed up from the Melbourne Marathon the previous week to take out the Male 70 and Over with 5:23:30 (and establish a course record in the process).
In the women’s race. Sarah Hately was in a league of her own, looking calm and controlled in placing 5th outright with her winning 3:21:18, a new course record. Marathon junkie Jane Trumper repeated her previous year’s victory in the Female 50-59 with a cool 4:39:59; while Jane Sturzaker was an inaugural winner of the Female 60-69 category in 5:12:42.
Special mention goes to our oldest participant, Luigi Criniti, who enjoyed the course for the longest of all in completing his marathon in 6:16:44, hours after some teams were already at the beach.
THE RELAY TEAMS
For sheer excitement, the day’s headline moment was the finish of the Open Relay Teams race. Team “CLIE” (whose real name was actually a series of 4 flag icons representing their 4 countries of origin – Chile, Scotland, Ireland and England – but which could not be represented by our registration and timing system as such, hence “CLIE”, comprising Daniel Covarrubias, Jim Hutchison, John Fallon and Sean Hampton), and Team “White Fence Track Club” (Jamie Broom, Matt Wacher, Adam Ballesty and John McCormack) had been the two stand-out teams in this category all day, leading from the front and establishing a sizeable gap right from the outset. “CLIE” led by about 150 metres at the final baton hand-over and certainly looked to have one hand on the trophy. However by the time the runners hurled past the start/finish compound at about 1.7km, this margin had already been reduced considerably and everyone knew that a nail-biting finish was on the cards. Sure enough, when Sean Hampson (“CLIE”) and John McCormack (“White Fence Track Club”) came into view rounding the final turn alongside the oval, it was neck and neck – a full-on spirit finish ensued. John McCormack had to dig very deep to find the fastest lap split of the entire day (for all teams) of 13:35 (including a 2:56 final kilometre) to just catch Sean and – after 42.2km of collective gut-besting racing from both groups – take the prize for his team by a mere one second (2:37:58 to 2:37:59)!
“The Run Squad Vintage Boys” (Adrian Kotzen, Brad Sharp, Gerard Walsh and Warren Williams) took out their category of Open All Over 50 with a new course record 2:50:44 (including a category new lap record for Gerard Walsh of 15:22); while “Jack Gillooly Harriers 250s” (David Iverarch, Marc Jarman, Richard Halliwell and Rob Ellis) proved their victory last year in the Open Teams All Over 60 was no fluke, again taking the crown in a new course record of 3:21:22 (including a new best leg time for Rob Ellis of 18:18).
“The Run Squadettes 1” (Audrey Hall, Louise Arnott, Kisha Oister and Kelsey Walton) were dominant in the All-Female teams, winning this category in a superb 2:49:23 (including a new lap record of 14:54 for Audrey Hall) from “QPAC Girls” (Maya Borthwick, Sarah Benbrick, Hayley Kain and Rachael Honeywood) who just missed out on breaking the 3 hour barrier (3:00:18). The All-Female All Over 50s saw a fine all-round performance from “Rejoov Zebras” (Susan MacCallum, Cathy Rowney, Mary Stringer and Lisa Studencki) to set a new event record of 3:32:54 and take 6th outright among all the female teams, while in the process, Mary Stringer established a new lap record of 17:30.
The Mixed Teams saw perhaps the finest overall collective performance of the day from “The Forrest Gumps – TRS” (Keith Broadfoot, Amy Lam, David Mizrahi and Sara Rathborne) who shattered the previous course record for this category with their fantastic 2:38:58, a mere one minute behind the winning all-male combos. “Lost in Pace” (Kristen Baltzer, Seb Roach and Greg Maarschalk) also broke 3 hours with their impressive 2:59:20.
In the Mixed Teams All Over 50, “It will be over soon” (David Baker, Lara Krejci, James and Dianne Kirk) were too fast among what turned out to be a good quality field with their 3:23:02 – a new category record; while the fantastic “Beauty and the Beast” (the pairing of Donna Dew and Glenn Dewhurst) were only a few minutes behind them in 3:26:32, to take a new course record for the Mixed Team All Over 60, including a new age lap record for Donna Drew of 19:18.
Among the teams, special thanks to Lyneham High School, whose 10 teams came all the way from Canberra for the event and added tremendous enthusiasm and dynamism to the atmosphere, which in turn lifted all other runners. Wonderful also to see no less than 4 teams of Korean ParkRunners and such a broad collection of family ensembles (some with 3 generations together); running clubs (The Run Squad were dominant today – who will challenge them next year?); corporate groupings and random friends all coming together for an unforgettable day out in the park.
See you next year!