Fairplay, Goodwill and Sportsmanship
was on the 19th September 98 when I got home and found my entry form for
the Sri Chinmoy 24hr Race returned in the mail. No explanations or
banging rather heavily on quite a few doors I ascertained that they had
canceled the Run due to a death in the Group! In the words of Billy
Connolly "Shocked, stunned and amazed!". I had already done one
24 hr Run for the year, but was disappointed for all the other runners
that were going to get no reward for their training. It wasn't fair!
wife and I had a quick discussion that night and we agreed that we had to
put a 12 hour race on the same day for the runners. I made a couple of
phone calls to Dot Browne, potential sponsors and runners. By the end of
the night I had the confidence and the new race was born. At that stage I
had visions of 12 runner sin the field.
next few weeks was a blur as I brought the race together. SARRC helped
with equipment, sponsors were more than generous with prizes and AURA
helped with insurance. It was all starting to fall into place.
from the runners were starting to trickle in. Yes a percentage of runners
do leave their entries to the last minute.
must mention two runners in particular at this stage. The first is Mark
Fairhead. Mark introduced himself to me at the RAAF Base a couple of
months ago. He had a mountaineering and rogaining background and wanted to
do a 24 hour race as mental preparation for an Expedition to Nepal at the
end of 98. Mark's aim for the 24 hour was survival and run 120km. Mark was
more than happy to switch his attention to the 12 hour.
other runner I must mention at this stage is a lady by the name of
Christine Thiele. She came up to me at the Airport Fun run inquiring about
the 12 hour race. Her previous experience was the Airport Fun Run! I
wasn't sure of her age and I was doubtful if I should let her in the race.
runners were to play a very large part in the fortunes of the race.
was a week before and we were up to sixteen, seventeen runners which I was
more than happy with. In the last week that list grew to 21 with one
runner appearing at the track the day before looking for the "Sri
Chinmoy" group. He was soon entered.
fell into place the day before and the race was set to go. Only problem -
the weather forecast of 26 was amended to 32. Add five degrees for the
surface temp - it was going to be hell on the cinders track.
day of the race came around and my small but dedicated list of helpers had
the race ready to go.
runner, Geoff Kirkman agreed to be the starter and at five to eight there
were fifteen runners ready to go. It was already about 28 degrees and it
was getting hot. The three favorites for the race were Peter Twartz, Alan
Devine and John Twartz. This was Ultra Running though and anything can
gun went off and the runners were on their way. They all soon settled into
a good rhythm and by the end of the first hour, Alan Devine had a one lap
advantage over Kip Melham, Jerry Zukowski, Peter Twartz and John Twartz.
It was going to be a close race.
me at this stage the hard work was done. I was now bored and wanted to
join the runners out in the middle of the track! It was going to be a long
11 o clock , Kip Melham from Sydney had hit the lead and had one lap break
over Alan Devine and Peter Twartz from South Australia.
of the runners were starting to feel the effects of the heat. They were
being closely monitored by Stephen Walsey who is a qualified Sports
Trainer. Stephen knew that the runners were experienced, but he cajoled
and pushed them when necessary into eating and drinking more. Stephen was
Cassidy was winning the Ladies Race with 21.6km. She had a four lap
advantage over Susan Bardy who was enjoying the Classical music on her
the five hour mark, Kip Melham held a 2km lead over Peter Twartz with
54.4km under his belt. Alan Devine and John Twartz were sharing third
spot. First timer, Mark Fairhead was running a sensible race in sixth spot
and had just under 50km to his name.
O'clock came around and six runners were off in the Six-hour race. These
included father and son combination of Stan and Pat McCartney, Ultra
Journeyman - Peter Gray, ex SA 50km Walking Champ - David Bryson, Whyalla
walker Ellen Zukowski and Ultra Newbie - Christine Thiele. It was going to
be an interesting race.
the seven hour mark, Kip Melham with 68.8km was grimly hanging onto his
lead, but John Twartz was only a lap behind him. Peter Twartz and Mark
Fairhead were only just behind them with 67.6km. Mark's crew were prepared
for every contingency but it was a shock for them to see him closing in on
the first hour of the Six hour race, Peter Gray had 10km up and a one lap
lead on Christine Thiele who appeared to be having the time of her life.
four o clock, John Twartz was in the lead with 76.4km, but Mark Fairhead
was only a lap behind. Kip Melham and Max Carson were starting to struggle
with the heat and injury and were starting to drop of the pace.
of the other runners were playing the survival game and desperately
hanging on for the bell. Andrew McComb was being consistent and looked
like establishing some Over 65 Mens records. Kevin Mansell kept circling
the track and was providing a great insight into the battle that was
developing. Merrilyn Cassidy was keeping a slender lead in the women's
race and Dean Brown was digging deep within himself to survive.
the second hour of the Six hour race Christine Thiele and Peter Gray were
on the same lap with 18.8km. People were finding it hard to believe that
Christine's previous Race experience was the 10.6km Airport Fun run,
thirteen days previously.
the nine hour mark of the 12 hour, a new race leader had emerged. Mark
Fairhead with 84.8km had a one lap lead over John Twartz. Mark's crew were
now changing their focus to keeping him in front.
the half way mark of the six hour race, Christine Thiele had run 28.4km
and had a seven lap lead over Peter Gray. Racewalking Champ, David Bryson
was a lap further back in third place.
six o clock, Mark Fairhead had 94km to his name and was in the
"Zone". He held a 2km lead over John Twartz, but by this stage
he was climbing up Mt Everest. Alan Devine was keeping third place secure
with 90km under his belt. Meanwhile in the six hour race, Christine Thiele
had 38.4km up and a 5.2km lead over Peter Gray and David Bryson. People
were still disbelieving about her previous race experience, but her talent
and happiness was a pleasure to watch.
an hour to go in the 12 hour it was heading for a thrilling finish. Mark
Fairhead now had 102.4km up, but John Twartz was only three laps behind
him. Stephen Spielberg could not write a better finish. Everyone that was
crewing, lapscoring and watching were engrossed in the Battle!
of the other runners were still gamely hanging on for the bell with
remarkably only three withdrawals during the whole race.
Thiele had 48km to her name in the Six hour race and a 6.4km lead over
Peter Gray. She would have to drop where she was on the track to lose at
this stage of the race.
was at this late part of the race, when a strange apparition appeared on
the track. Glen Watson had changed into a full length fluorescent green
running outfit. My daughter, Laura thought that Kermit the frog was having
last hour of the race was Ultra running at it's finest. John Twartz pegged
the difference to a lap and with ten minutes to go, Mark and John were
running together. Lesser men would have folded, but Mark Fairhead hung
onto John Twartz and actually got in front again. The gun went off and
Mark Fairhead had recorded a magnificent 111.108km to win an Ultra at his
Twartz finished with 110.639km and was glorious in coming second. Alan
Devine broke the 100km barrier in the last hour and finished third.
eight year old, Andrew McComb finished with 90.883km and once they are
ratified should have two or three AURA age records to his credit.
Cassidy ended up winning the women's race with 66.239km. She beat Susan
Bardy who finished with 63.978km. Both did well considering the
Thiele ended up blitzing the Six hour race with 57.469km. She ran further
in the second half of the race than the first half. Peter Gray finished
second with a consistent 50 plus kilometres and David Bryson was unlucky
to finish just short of the magic 50 total.
runner and walker in both events have my utmost gratitude for their great
efforts. Their determination and guts in the face of the heat made it a
very special day. It was an honor to witness. Thankyou.
must thank everyone else that was involved. This includes the sponsors who
were: Statues Oz, Invogue Signs, Centra Motor Lodge, Renaissance Fitness
Club, Joggers World, South Australian Road Runners Club and AURA. I must
also thank my wife, Belinda, the lapscorers, crew members, Stephen Walsey,
Dennis Larhos, Peter Slagter, Neil Coley and John Twartz. You all helped
to make it a great day.
presentations probably could have been done better, but I learn from
experience. A suggestion to the Sri Chinmoy people when they put the 24
hour race back on next year. Please put the race on in the first weekend
of October, by the third weekend it is too hot and unsafe. Secondly, the
SA 12 hour track championship deserves to become an Annual event. Please
can you give your 12 hour race on the day that title? Thanks to everyone
that was involved.
12 HOUR RESULTS
6 HOUR RESULTS
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