Lake Wendouree Road Race, 29 July 2017

July 29, 2017

Victorian 15 K Road Championship around Lake Wendouree 29 July

By Ian Sloane

This race has been held around Lake Wendouree in Ballarat for a number of years.  There were several changes this year, with the start and the finish being moved and the junior races being held over 6 kilometres, previously contested over 5 kilometres.  Box Hill had three teams in the male division but unfortunately not enough women to have a single team in Division 1.  Box Hill’s representation in the Open Men’s and Women’s division was depleted and we did not field our strongest teams. Numbers were down on the 10 K Road championship held two weeks ago and the overall number of competitors were smaller too.  The winds blowing across traffic on the way up the highway were exceptionally strong and many of our athletes had to fight to keep their car going in the right direction.  The wind at Ballarat was so strong that when Club President, Chris O’Connor, attempted to erect the club shelter, it blew straight on its side.  So like most other clubs we opted not to put it up for fear that it would blow away and possibly injure a spectator.

The wind chill factor was not as bad as usual, despite the wind speed, because the temperature was not hovering around freezing point as it often is in Ballarat.  Life member, Bryan Lewry, and former A-Grade competitors, Rob Wilson and Dave Gazley were at the course to observe the races.

The junior race was contested prior to the open races.   Box Hill had two competitors in the Under 20 and Under 18 races.  The distance was increased to six kilometres (or one circuit of Lake Wendouree. Alex Ritchie, who had a brilliant race at the 10 k road, where he had a massive breakthrough to secure the bronze medal, ran really well again.  He placed fourth, and may well have won the bronze medal again had he known where the (unmarked) finish was.  The officials did not erect the inflatable finish structure, because they feared it would be blown away, which was a reasonable supposition.  Alex thought the race finished at last year’s spot, but this year it was about 250 metres back from its previous position.  He was only one second behind the third placegetter, and by the time he realised where the finish was, there was not enough distance left to put in a final surge.  Anyway, it was an excellent performance to get so close to a medal and he should be delighted with his form at the moment.  Josh James placed 26th in the under 18 race over the same distance as the under 20 race.

The Open Men’s and Women’s race were run combined.

After the race started the runners had to run a preliminary three k out and back loop, before running two full laps of the lake.  Box hill had three runners in the leading group after the loop, James O’Connell 10th, Steve Dinneen around 13th and Andre Waring, perhaps 14th or 15th in the pack.  Sam Dipnall was a little further back, but looking very strong.  Nick Baggott was in close proximity to the leading woman, Makda Harum Haji, running by invitation for Melbourne University. With Peter Green trailing him by fifteen or so seconds.  John Meagher was also looking fast, in around 60th position, as was Michael Vaughan who might have been 20 seconds adrift.  Josh de Stefanis was the next Box Hill athlete to appear, probably in the first 80.  Garth Calder was next, in the first hundred and then there were four Box Hill runners very close to each other, including Michael Petridis, Jackson Deane, Chris O’Conner and Russell Clowes.  A small distance separated these four from Peter Stefanos and Zac Hunter.  Nick Harper and Simon St Hill were further back.

In the women’s race, Makda Harum Haji took off fast and opened up an enormous gap over the other female runners, with Virginia Moloney, Ellie O’Kane, Gemma Maini and Karinna Fyfe being the best placed.  Steph Kondogonis in the first 20, Pia Hunter in the first 40, Rachel Johnson and Caitlin Harrison were our representatives.

At the completion of nine kilometres, the large pack or around 40 runners had been whittled down to four, with Nick Earl (Mel. Uni.) leading from Liam Adams (Ess), Andrew Buchanan (Ben) and Mitch Brown (Ess).  Steve Dinneen was ninth, Andre Waring, 13th, James O’Connell 17th and Sam Dipnall, 20th, were our four leading runners. Nick Baggott was 35th, Peter Green about seven positions behind him and John Meagher in the top 60 were the next runners to pass the drink station.  There was a bit of a change in positions in the final lap.  Adams passed Earl and went to the lead.  Mitch Brown surged, dropping Buchanan and then passed Earl.  Adams won the title from Brown with Earl picking up the bronze medal.  Steve Dinneen improved one place in the concluding stages to finish 8th, in a very good performance.  The standout run for this correspondent was that produced by Andre Waring, who picked up three positions in the last circuit and claimed his first ever top 10 AV winter placing.  Andre has shown enormous improvement over the last two years and looks certain to keep improving of this excellent foundation.  James O’Connell finished strongly to place 18th in a fighting run.  Sam Dipnall impressed by holding 21st position and he also looked strong the whole way.  Our Division 1 team was completed by Nick Baggott, 36th position and Peter Green, 42nd position.  This was a winning team performance and has made it extremely difficult for other teams to catch us at the front of the phalanx in the Division 1 competition.   One of our main competitors, SSH, had a poor day and could only manage 7th position, which means that they are no longer likely to catch us.

Other Box Hill runners to run in the top hundred were John Meagher, 61st (and winner of the gold medal in his age division), Michael Vaughan who also ran strongly, 66th, Josh De Stefanis, 79th and Garth Calder, 95th and second place in his age division.

Box Hill’s female competitors finished the course as follows: Steph Kondogonis, 15th, a fine effort, Pia Hunter 35th and second in her age group, also noteworthy, Rachel Johnson, 70th, and Caitlin Harrison, 112th.

Provisional team results showed that Box Hill won Division 1 and Division 4 and we were fifth in Division 2.  We did not finish a Division 6 team or a women’s team.


Summary of Box Hill results

Under 18 male 6 kilometre road championship

26          Josh James                         24:13


Under 20 male 6 kilometre road championship

4            Alex Ritchie                      19:10


Open Men 15 kilometre road championship provisional results

  1. Liam Adams (Ess)             45:49
  2. Mitch Brown (Ess)            46:05
  3. Nick Earl (Mel Uni)          46:08

8            Steve Dinneen                   47:28

10          Andre Waring                    47:37

18          James O’Connell               48:22

21          Sam Dipnall                       48:41

36          Nick Baggott                     50:18

42          Peter Green                        50:49

61          John Meagher                    53:10

66          Michael Vaughan              53:35

79          Josh de Stefanis                 54:16

95          Garth Calder                      55:22

136        Michael Petridis                58:12

137        Jackson Deane                   58:13

138        Chris O’Connor                 58:13

144        Russell Clowes                  58:42

147        Peter Stefanos                    58:52

148        Zac Hunter                         58:54

209        Nick Harper                       62:63

286        Simon St Hill                     71:27


Team scores and positions

  1. Box Hill                                123
  2. Geelong                        234
  3. Doncaster                      243
  4. Melbourne University               259
  5. Glen Huntly                         280
  6. Collingwood                    289
  7. SSH                            291

Open Women 15 kilometre road championship provisional results

  1. Makda Harum Haji (M Uni) 49:29
  2. Virginia Moloney (Coll)   51:55
  3. Ellie O’Kane (Geel)          51:59

15          Steph Kondogonis             59:31

35          Pia Hunter                         63:10

70          Rachel Johnson                  67:09

112        Caitlin Harrison                 76:50