26 May 2019
History made at XC Relays for Bankstown, UTS Norths and Run Crew
Thrilling races in the open men’s and women’s races highlighted a great day of history making results at the Waratah Series, incorporating the 29th NSW Cross Country Relays held in warm conditions at Miranda. Never before at the event had Bankstown won the men’s race or UTS Norths the women’s or a recreational running club win a medal.
OPEN MEN 4x4km
This race was open with maybe UTS North favourite. World cross country representative Kieren Tall got UTS Norths off to a good start clocking the fastest opening leg split of 12:32. But on leg two Ed Goddard (with 12:54), who continues to return from injury kept them in touch as Bankstown, courtesy of Yosef Gemechu (12:43) and Aaron Parker (12:41) gave them a two second lead 25:24 to 25:26. They had moved clear of Run Crew (26:01), Randwick Botany (26:05), Sydney University (26:20) and Bankstown B (26:20).
Another athlete returning from injury, sub four minute miler Jye Edwards, maintained the near perfect consistency of the Bankstown team clocking 12:44, as they powered into a 46 seconds lead over UTS Norths, with Run Crew a further eights seconds back, but with Australia’s fastest 10,000m athlete ever, Ben St Lawrence to anchor. But Bankstown would be well served with national 1500m medallist Rorey Hunter to bring home the team. St Lawrence had a real dig, taking ground off Hunter early, catching UTS Norths runner Charlie Doherty, before seeming to slow up. St Lawrence later explained:
“You have the carrot of another out in front, so I was telling the people I coach don’t go out too hard. But I went and did exactly that run super hard and paid for it towards the end.”
Up front, Bankstown’s Rorey Hunter was running quickly himself, coasting to a 70-seconds win after clocking 12:10 - the fastest split of the day. St Lawrence ran home strongly in 12:26 as they claimed silver ahead of UTS Norths. Defending champions Sydney University finished fourth with Harrison Wade clocking their fastest leg on the anchor.
It was an historic inaugural win for Bankstown in the 29-year history of the men’s race. Their only previous victories had been the first two women’s titles in 1991 and 1992. For Run Crew it was the first teams medal for the club.
“That is the first time we have put some Run Crew teams forward and we are really happy to get a silver medal.”
The Bankstown team was a youthful crew, as Hunter explained.
“It was good to get the win as last year we had a narrow lost. We had a strong team with the young boys in our squad running really well. It was fun out there and good to see it come together. That’s what makes it enjoyable and gets the competitive juices going.”
12:10 Rorey Hunter BAN
12:26 Ben St Lawrence RunC
12:32 Kieren Tall UTN
12:41 Aaron Parker BAN
12:43 Youcef Gemechu BAN
12:44 Jye Edwards BAN
12:46 Harrison Wade SYU
12:53 Charlie Doherty UTN
12:54 Ed Goddard UTN
12:57 Jackson Sharp RunC
12:57 Joe Burgess SYU
OPEN WOMEN 4x4km
This was an exciting race with the leaders constantly changing. The mother/daughter combination of Belinda Martin and Imogen Stewart put Illawong 43 seconds ahead after leg two leg. They had both dipped under 15 minutes and only solo athlete Georgia Winkcup (UNSW) matched that with a brilliant fastest time of the day split of 14:14. After leg two, Run Crew were second and UTS Norths third. But the picture of the race changed dramatically on leg three with Kate Spencer (UTN) moving her team into a seven seconds lead with a strong 15:22 leg. Illawong remained in second and Sydney University a definite threat in third. The anchor leg responsibilities for UTS Norths fell to 800/1500m specialist Izzy Thornton-Bott who ran a clever leg.
“On our third leg, Kate Spencer had run a really amazing leg to get us into first and with a small lead,” said Thornton-Bott.” I could hear the Illawong girl behind me and knew that if I used the hills to my advantage I could put in some more distance to take the win.”
It was not until well into the second 2km lap that she broke away from Illawong’s Tiahna Woodger.
“It was all a case of maintaining the lead my team had worked so hard to establish and finishing the race well.”
Courtesy of a quick 15:20 leg, Beth Croft brought defending champions Sydney University home for the silver medal, falling 30 second short of the gold.
14:14 Georgia Winkcup UNSW
14:29 Marnie Ponton BAN
14:52 Belinda Martin ILL
14:55 Katie Conlon RUNC
14:56 Imogen Stewart ILL
15:05 Abbey Rockliff UTN
15:20 Sarah Marvin SYU
15:20 Beth Croft SYU
15:22 Kate Spencer UTN
David Tarbotton for Athletics NSW
Image: Rorey Hunter (image courtesy of David Tarbotton)