The oldest fun run in Tasmania has a long history. All you have to do is look at the list of names etched on the winners trophy, boasting legends of the Tassie distance scene from the ‘golden years’ of running. Think of names like five times champion Dean Giblin, late 80′s marathon machine Russell Foley, Australian representative Kim Gillard and Olympian Kylie Risk. There is a now a name that surpasses the deeds of those before him with Grant Page elevated to legend status after notching up his sixth win in the 11km race. What makes this a remarkable feat is that Page is a middle distance specialist who concentrates primarily on the 1500m track distance compared to five or ten kilometre racing. In contrast we also may have witnessed the beginning of a new era with Melanie Daniels the first woman across the line at her maiden attempt at the distance. With youth on her side, could Daniels be the one to threaten Pages record wins?
There was a sizable turnout at Hobart Showgrounds start with a strong tailwind on offer for those looking to run a good time. From the gun this was evident as the leading duo of Page and state 5000m champion Josh Harris distancing themselves from the field and steamed down the highway to have an unofficial split of 14.52 at the 5km mark. Page was able to put 20 metres into Harris up the main climb just past Cornelian Bay, where the turn off is made towards the Tasman Bridge and past the Botanical Gardens. Striding down into the city Harris was unable to close down the gap and finished a valiant runner up seven seconds behind Page with a winning time 34m 12s and Jordan Harries (35m40s) third.
Page was glad to take his sixth win under extreme pressure from Harris remarking “I knew I had my work cut out for me as Harris has been training for these distances all year. He is a quality runner. I haven’t had any 10km lead up runs, but I knew I could do it. We went out fast and I found it hard to break him as I couldn’t run any faster. I managed to get a break on him, but not a convincing one. It could have come down to a sprint finish. I’m glad it didn’t.” Putting the history making run into perspective Page stated “I entered this race for the first time when I was eight years old in the 5km. My mum made me walk it. Russell Foley won that year and I’ve looked up to the race ever since then. Now I’ve won it more times than anyone else, so it’s a bit surreal.”
Melanie Daniels win was to be expected, trouncing her rivals finishing in 40m 20s with Andrea Marquardt and Mandy Giblin filling the minor placings. “This is a bit longer than the other races I’ve been doing on the track, so it was very tough. I’m using this as longer training as my next event is 10km.” said a happy Daniels after the race.
The other races offered were a 7km starting in Newtown and a 2.7km for primary school students. The 7km event was won by Dejen Gabreselessie (22.49) who apoligised to the crowd at the presentation for not posting a quicker time, due to the forced course change turning off Sandy Bay Road at Quail Street and along Mareville Esplanade adding an estimated 200m. Phil McConnon (23.06) followed along with track specialist Tom Beard (23.21). Natasha Fitzpatrick is a name to write down for the future winning the womens 7km race in 25m 27s from Jess Morey (27.11) and Julia Minnucci.
Other news of interest was that renowned Hobart distance coach Mike Pace had the following results from his training squad during the event:11km Men: 1st Grant Page, 3rd Jordan Harries, 11km Women: 1st Melanie Daniels, 7km Men: 2nd Phil McConnon, 7km Women: 1st Natasha Fitzpatrick.
Apart from the outstanding performances above, large numbers showed support with their feet for the peoples fun run that has been the major road race on the Hobart calender for 39 years and ranks as one of the oldest in Australia. There have been some course alterations in recent years, taking the run away from the heart of the suburbs of Moonah, New Town and North Hobart in the blue ribbon distance, but the finish at the iconic Wrest Point Casino will hopefully never change. We can only hope that events like this are not lost due to unappreciative members of the public and councils unwillingness not to support this event in the manner it should.
Stay tuned for an article exposing the plight of fun run events, and their battle to get full council support.