WARRANDYTE Reserve was awash with cones, colour and competition yesterday as runners of all ages and abilities took part in the fifth annual Run Warrandyte event.
Record numbers were recorded as runners competed across the six events. Everyone from parents in prams, school kids, Warrandyte Bloods players and dedicated athletes like the Westerfoldians parkarun group took part. Five-kilometre runner Simon Tu, a member of the parkarun group, believes running truly is a sport for those of all abilities.
“No matter quickly or slowly you run, everyone is going at full capacity. So it’s the most democratic sport there is,” said Simon.
Most exciting was the introduction and running of the inaugural Grand Hotel Warrandyte Gift. After a series of heats involving over 30 competitors, it was Rory Ashton who won out in a photo finish, crossing the line milliseconds ahead of Sharlotte Rimelowe and Kellie Appleby.
The first three placing’s received cash prizes courtesy of the Grand Hotel, ensuring the hard work of runners was rewarded.
Long distance runner Stephen Rennick was the star of the show in the Ringwood Warrandyte Osteopath 15km event, leading the field with an exceptional time of 55 minutes 40 seconds, beating out all comers, including a brave runner who finished the track barefooted while drumming along to music. Not to be outdone was Wendy Mountford, who clocked a rapid time of 1 hour 7 minutes and 14 seconds in an outstanding effort in the 15km female event, just beating out Clare Oliveira who came in a minute later. Simon Bull and Jennifer Wood took out the Harding’s Swift Caravan Services 10km honours respectively, while Simon Tu and Alicia Callahan were the winners in the Ruby Tuesday Jewellery 5km category.
Perhaps the most hotly contested was the Quinton’s SUPA IGA 2.2 kilometre run, in which youngsters led the way, treating the race like a sprint early before pushing each other all the way to the line.
The U8s Crystal Brook Tourist Park Oval Dash was also a crowd favourite, with the little ones running as fast as anyone in front of excited spectators. All events were eagerly supported and watched by a crowd of friends, family and volunteers who cheered each runner over the finish line.
Community favourites were present, such as Grand Hotel manager Peter Appleby, who put the running shoes on with son Liam, to represent the pub, sponsor for the 2016 gift event. Member for Warrandyte Ryan Smith was present to award medals to the winners and announce the raffle, and the Warrandyte football players also completed various circuits, despite playing a game the previous day. Participation was strong and impressive MC Steve Ballard was extremely satisfied with the day as a whole.
“It’s been fantastic, probably better than ever,” Steve said.
“We had really strong numbers, the weather was perfect and that really helped.
“It was nice and overcast for the distance runners, and then the sun came out for the Gift. Our sponsors have been really good, there was really good spirit and camaraderie between runners, and we saw some really good times especially in the distance runs.”
Plans are already underway to make the day even bigger in 2017, including more involvement with the local sports clubs.
“It’s a great way to kick off the junior and senior footy season and the netball season, it’s great to see competitors from the different clubs in all the races,” Steve said.
“Next year what we’d like to do is try to set something up to get the sporting clubs to compete as clubs in the races, set them up against each other.”
Special thanks are in order for major organisers, including David Dyason who worked tirelessly along with all the volunteers, the White Owl Cafe who provided exceptional food and coffee for runners and spectators, and, of course, the Warrandyte Community Bank.