It was a great day for running at the inaugural JOLONG PARK FUN RUN at Bangholme in bayside Melbourne. Held on a turf horse racing track, runners got to experience the thrill of participating in either a 1 lapper (2.2km) or a 3 lapper (6.6km).
After week of wet, windy weather in Melbourne, it was a nice morning for running. The track was soft underfoot, but not muddy at all. Runners did have to battle a headwind down the home straight on each lap. It was not a course for PBs, rather a course for competitive racing.
It was an idyllic setting for some classic old style foot racing. Overlooking the race track was an emerald green lawn with a rolling hills. This was a superb spot for sponsors stands, a dining area and presentation zone. Surrounded by wineries and Melbourne’s Water Park and a Cable Ski Centre, this precinct is a hidden treasure of the sporting capital of Australia.
The first race of the day was the 1 lapper (2.2km). Lap records (also STRAVA CRs!) were up for grabs and a hot field lined up.
Lachie Moorhouse set a hot pace from the start and applied enormous pressure on the field in the early stages. Amazingly, Moorhouse was able to sustain the pressure for the entire lap which was enough to drop the field. He flashed across the finish line faster than you can say Barry Allen (or Harry Summers) to stun the excited crowd with a 6.43. William Garbellotto, aged 16, showed he is star of the future with his 6.51. Garbo (Garbellotto) and The Natural (Moorhouse) were within 1 second of each other in a 3000m race on Thursday night (8.58- 8.59) and continued their rivalry today. Thomas Hughes (aged 16) continued his meteoric rise to supremacy with a 7.04. He is closing the gap on the big guns with every start.
11 year old Noa Saroup had the run of the day setting a new lap record (and STRAVA CR) of 7.47 to be first female home. It was a sign of things to come when little Noa went out like a startled cat and clung on to the heels of the big boys in the early stages of the race. Her staying power to record such a phenomenal time on that course was a sight to see. Mother/daughter combination of Cindy King and Tilly Williams ran brilliantly to round out the podium. King did well running 9.36 to just break the rubber band and hold off 10 year old Tilly who closed quickly in 9.54.
Some outstanding junior runs also came from Will Orchard (aged 12 who ran 7.53), Edward Gibson (aged 13 who ran 7.53) and Samuel Gibson (aged 10 who ran 9.36).
The 3 lapper (6.6km) carried the big prizes of the day, with the winning open male and female each taking home $200 cash, a $250 New Balance voucher and other sponsor prizes. The quality of the field did not disappoint. STRAVA King Michael Kernahan went out like a rocket. At the 1km mark he was challenged by a surprise packet from Athetics Essendon runner Bouchaib Chefnaoui (boasts a 1500m PB of 3.38). Chefnaoui had a 5 metre lead after one lap and appeared to be trying to break Kernahan. The boys wanted the lap record of Lachie Moorehouse and turned the screws on lap two. Kernahan was better able to sustain the pressure and he was the one that broke Chefnaoui at 4km to open up a 30 metre lead after two laps. Kernahan applied turbo power on the final lap to sail away to win in 21.23, with Chefnaoui close behind in 21.35. Alexander Gibson, aged 14, ran brilliantly to be 3rd home, just 5 seconds in front of Jay Bosanquet and 6 seconds in front of a very brave Alex Bailey.
The women’s race was dominated by the much improved Nikki Lesberg. Lesberg was mixing it with some of the top boys for the majority of the race which enabled her to streak away from the strong female field to win in 25.35. National level cross country runner Siorcha Creaton, (aged 14) came 2nd whilst top 5 finisher from the Great Ocean Road Marathon Martina Brennan came 3rd.
Perhaps the most impressive age group placegetter of the day was Frankie Piper who scored 3rd in the very competitive 45+ female category in the 2.2km. This speed machine roared down the final straight to the screams of her fans. Like other age group placegetters she wins a medal plus a goodies bag.
Well done to all runners that completed the events- especially the age category winners.
A big thank you must go to Jolong Park for providing such an eye-opening venue for our event.
Special thanks must go to our amazing volunteers who helped out before and during the event. They included, Cindy King, Barry Carey, Benny Skurka, Julie Aylward, Catherine Franklin, Kerrie Gibson, Jenny Williams and Peter Turner.
An event like this cannot happen without sponsors and the timers- Tomato Timing. The generous sponsors were SSPC (Robbie O’Donnell), 32gi (Magnus Michelson), David Lennon, New Balance, KX Pilates, Quest Apartments Maribyrnong, (Scotty Orchard), Revvies, Precious Health Food Company and Kinder Gym (Lisa Andrezecki).