Sri Chinmoy Centennial Park Half-Marathon, 7km & 4km cross-country runs, Monday 5 April 2021
Being the shortest distance and smallest field, and catering primarily for kids and newbies, we don’t usually start a race report with coverage of the 4km event. Today we do!
The all-comers course record for the Sri Chinmoy 4km loop at Centennial Park was set on Easter Monday in 2013 by Ali Najem, and stood unthreatened for 8 years – until today, when it was lowered by a full 8 seconds in a head-turning display of style and speed – by Ali Najem. His new best time, 12:40. Thank you Ali, for the inspiration and sheer joy you bring through the passion, power and grace of your running!
Ali was not the only super-fast runner burning up the grass today, as he was chased by a flying Max Russell – whose awesome 12:59 set a new record for the Male Under 17 category – with Brady McIntyre also streets ahead of the rest of the field in 13:08.
Natasha Ward was next runner home, winning the Girls Under 17 in the process with an impressive 14:48. Tahli Weigand took out the Girls Under 13 with a well-below-4-minute-pace run of 15:45; and Natalie Malligan the Female 17 and Over with 17:18. Evan Rowbotham meanwhile won the Boys Under 13 in 15:11.
Usually one expects the early finishers in these races to be populated by the Male Under 50 category, yet the big story of today’s 7km one-lap race saw 3 of the top 5 placings upsetting this dominant paradigm. Yes, Nic Bailey won the race outright from the MU50s with his accustomed sleek style in 26:27 – yet next home was a flying Ella Higgins, taking out the women’s race and 2nd outright with a fantastic 26:39, a mere 12 seconds adrift of Nic. Ella barely held off the charge of Alan Wheat, 1st in the Male 50-59 and 3rd outright, winning his category in 26:42. Shaun Malligan got one back for the MU50 for 4th outright with 25:56, before Audrey Hall flew across the line next in 27:33. 3rd placed Female Under 50 was Amber Kusano with 32:45; with the same trophy in the Male Under 50 claimed by Joe Park (27:53).
Zoe Melling took out the Female 50-59 category with 33:27, from Kathleen Wallington’s 34:00 and Rosheen Boyle’s 34:47. Visiting legend Belinda Soszyn – who was also timing and producing results for the entire event with husband Greg D’Arcy – showed her ageless pedigree in winning the Female 60-69 with 35:44, from Rita Webster (39:11) and Sylvia Nichols (41:43); while Anne Elizabeth Boyd came home 1st in the Female 70 and Over with an impressive 50:43.
2nd in the Male 50-59 was Shane Maundrell with 32:22, from Aaron Francey’s 33:12; while Craig Saphin took out the Male 60-69 in 33:23, from Chris Webster with 36:51 and Marc Jarman in 39:28.
The advantage of the loop course is that spectators – while not seeing the entire race unfold – are at least treated to regular snapshots of the action, observing the entire field passing by 6 times in the course of the Half-Marathon. So it was that the excitement and anticipation built through the race as Gerber Koster was shadowed by Stuart Rennie through most of the distance. Who would make their move and how would the other respond? As it turns out, Gerber eased away over the final mile, to claim victory in 1:19:39 from Stuart’s 1:20:21, with John McCormack completing the podium positions with 1:24:33.
Though a lovely day for spectators and supporters, it was nevertheless deceptively warm for running more than one lap, and most runners found their times a little slower than might have been anticipated on a cooler morning.
Ruth Thomas was best on the day among the women, winning by a clear margin in 1:34:28, from Krista King (1:39:47) and Georgia Auchterlonie with 1:41:15. Soonchul Shin won a tight race in the Male 50-59 in 1:32:00, from a close-finishing Eddie Guo with 1:32:13 – a good distance ahead of their competition. Rob Ellis won the Male 60-69 with 1:51:51 from Gregory Leamon’s 1:57:53; while Paul Feain won the Male 70 and Over in 2:33:45. Elaine Glass earned the main prize in the Female 50-59 with 1:58:38; while Cheryl Parnham took home the trophy for 1st Female 60-69 with 2:21:29.
Congratulations to all participants and thanks to all helpers! Our special gratitude to Belinda Soszyn and Greg D’Arcy of Multisport Australia and Sports Splits for their generosity, kindness and superb professional service.