Australia Day Running Festival 2016
By Jock Campbell
Happy Australia Day Running Festival!
Jock Athletic celebrates 10 years straight of the Jane McGrath Classic on Australia Day. Another great day with a special touch of Caitlin Quinn singing the National Anthem to start things off, the great athletics commentators Mossy & Robbo commentating on the day, and Jane's kids James and Holly firing the starting guns for the Jane McGrath Classic family walk and Fun Run, separately.
10 years ago we had the first JMC and Jane was actually well enough to walk the event, despite her not liking the attention and fuss being around her. She did love the event and hoped that we would do it again. Ten years on and it's as big as ever and we now have cracked the $50,000 raised over the years for the McGrath Foundation. We wanted to put on something to show Jane and Jock's mum, Helen, support for their prolonged and tough battles with breast cancer - despite both women finally losing their battles, we're proud to say we're still doing it.
The day was another fantastic event with a cracking race in the 2.5km soft sand Jane McGrath Classic, with previous Australian University Games 800m Champion Jono Mclennan beating Wanda Runner John Woods by a centimetre, and 3rd place Lachy Crawford not too far behind. Wanda 2km state champions and Aussie stars (and training partners) Emily Rohr, Chloe Gentle and Lara Saunders finished first, second and third respectively in a cracking females race. Just to have all the walkers and runners there to support the McGrath Foundation on Australia Day was fantastic.
In the Wanda Xtreme 6, the hard core event of the day, which is a 6 km soft sand run that combines our beautiful beaches, sand tracks and sand hills at Cronulla we had a start list of over 100. There were some great performances, not least local Surf Lifesaving star Ali Najem (currently second in the World for the 2km Beach run event) who streeted the field to win his second Xtreme in a row, turning the tables on current 2km World Champion, Canadian Jordan Anderson. It was great to have such highly rated runners in our race. In the women's, previous Jane McGrath Classic winner Ciaran Williams dominated the field to get her breakthrough win having finished 4th in two previous Xtreme 6 editions. Local dietician Rebecca Gawthore finished second in her maiden attempt, and local Wanda athlete Emma Brown finished 3rd. A special mention must go to Ange Stevens who made her fun run debut after volunteering for 10 years at the event and training with us in the sand hills for 20 years. Ange got run across the line with a posy of her friends including race winners Ali Najem, Ciaran Williams and Mel Campbell.
In the Corporate relay known as 'Laura's Bolt', which is a 4 x 400m relay on soft sand and the Blue ribbon event, we had great support with teams from Crust Cronulla, Warren Saunders Insurance, BDO accountants, Bondi Soft Sand Harriers, Summersalt and Jock Athletic. The Womens Team from Crust Cronulla had a great win, upsetting perennial favourites Jock Athletic. In the mens race, however, a star studded line up including Ali Najem and John Woods got their own back with a win, despite their owner providing a very sluggish opening leg. This is fast becoming the main event of the day and next year there is talk of a runner auction prior to the event.
Another great year and we'd like to thank our volunteers and course Marshalls (who are trojans every year) setting up again this year in the rain. The Wanda Surf Club, whose club president, Sarge, was even out on the course helping. And of course our great sponsors Crust Cronulla, BDO Accountants, High5 Nutrition Australia, and T-Bone Media. Without your loyal and generous support this day couldnt have happened.