Large sporting events with thousands of participants are memorable markers of our lives; each with their own character, history, culture and atmosphere. Yet smaller gatherings can have their own appeal: with charm, simplicity and humility which can endear these more intimate excursions to our hearts just as enduringly.
So it was with this year’s Sri Chinmoy Mara-Fun Relays in Centennial Park. For whatever reason(s), the field assembled at the start was diminutive, the race photographer almost reaching for a telephoto lens, rather than the wide-angle lens usually required for a mass start. Yet as with all human interactions, it was not the quantity of those gathered, but the quality, goodwill and total engagement of all involved in this sublime setting, which ensured this morning’s running adventure will be long treasured.
The men’s solo marathon was won from the M50-59s by one of Australia’s leading ultra-marathoners, Stephen Redfern, fresh from the Adelaide 60-day race, who ran a steady and consistent pace from the outset to cross the finish line in 3:28:30, ahead of Male Under 50 winner Geoff Bunker’s 3:32:54. Next home was another over 50 in Roger Gill, who clocked 3:34:54 after running Sydney Marathon just a few weeks earlier. Joseph McCann followed in 3:37:34. Kieron Blackmore was first in the M60-69 cohort, coming in under 4 hours with 3:57:32.
Man Lo won the women’s solo race with 4:23:45, from Monica Flynn who snuck in under 5 hours with 4:59:47. Winner of the Adelaide 6-day women’s race, Annabel Hepworth was first in the F50-59s today with 5:04:31, with Clara Chan taking 2nd place in 5:09:36.
The first 3-placed teams all came from the Open category, and all were trios. “The Runs” (Jack Beckinsale, Jay Dutton and Jared Triggs) were the most consistent ensemble, finishing first in 2:36:34, ahead of 2nd placed “Light work” (Adam King, Michael Karsten and Tom Jollye) in 2:39:20, not far ahead of “Two tortoises and a hare” (Andrew, Daniel and David Carsen). he “hare” in this team, Canberra’s Daniel Carsen, proved his credentials by setting a new lap record for the event with his 8th-lap split of 12:54 – the slowest of his 4 laps clocking 13:01. First All-Over 50s in the Open division were the sprightly “Korean Parkrunners” (Gun Woo Kim, Taehyuk Lim, Chan Se Park and Sung.hun Lee) who ran a marvellous 2:52:53.
“The Run Squad Rockets” (Cecilia Malberg, Aggie Fichera, Rachelle McCue and Rachael Todd) took the main prize in the Al-Female teams with their 3:27:30, followed for 2nd by “Tight & Bright” (Noelle and Petuhn Foo, with Peta Collins) in 3:56:46, with “The Bee Team” (Anna Chavalier, Jenny Rankine, Irene Sheehas and Jo Mahony) taking 3rd in 4:07:53. The Over-50 prize in the All-Female teams (and 2nd overall) was taken by Wollongong’s “The A Team” (Leesa Bennet, Athene Chariot, Marie-Louise de Vreede and Alexia) with a sterling 3:37:52.
Winners of the Mixed Teams (and 4th overall) were the curiously-named “the tachyarunthmics” (Jessica Guo, William Choi, Isabella Natale and James Wang) in 2:49:32. Isabella Natale’s 7th-leg split of 14:50 set a new fastest-lap record for a female runner in this event. “The Run Squad ladies” (Bary Ellis, Jen Reid, Carley Carr and Melanie Poswell) were next in 3:01:27, followed for 3rd by “Because Mum made me” (Sonia Wastell, with Alanna, Emma and William Frinsdorf) in 3:32:47. First Mixed All-Over 50 team was “Ocean Street Crew Elite” (Jasmine Wun, Bill Highducheck, Marla Heller and Lester Fernandez) with 3:48:10.