August 4, 2018
By Ian Sloane
Ballarat is not the preferred location on the running calendar in the middle of winter. The expectation is that it will either be raining, freezing, windy or all three. One year, a Ballarat race at Victoria Park was held with a backdrop of falling snow. These anticipated conditions, and the distance from Melbourne were no doubt factors influencing the low number of starters, both in junior and senior races. There were only 146 finishers in the open women’s race and 337 finishers in the open men’s race.
Clubs trying to erect shelter for their runners were handicapped by the local Council prohibiting the use of pegs to secure tarpaulins and shade structures, meaning that if the usual gusty winds eventuated, the shelters would be blown over or blown away. The reasons for this condition imposed by the Council were not explained to clubs, and many opted not to erect their club tent, so runners huddled under any available tree. Athletics Victoria were required to comply with this condition outlined by the local authority.
Once our tent had been erected, we awaited the arrival of our athletes hoping that we would be able to field at least three senior men’s teams and one senior women’s team, which was unfortunately not the eventual outcome.
The race started and finished in a different position this year, and although piercingly cold, the wind was muted at the start, as starter, Gayle Anderson, sent the field on its way. The race consists of an initial out and back loop, followed by two complete laps of Lake Wendouree. Two athletes opened up an astonishing gap after the first 3000 m. Harry Summers, Box Hill, set off at a tremendous pace and led the race, with Collis Birmingham in very close attendance. When they had doubled back on the opening section, they had an extensive lead, described above, over the second pack of around 10 or 11 seconds. The second pack comprised around twelve runners, Andre Waring, 5th or 6th, James O’Connell, running 9th or 10th, Steve Dinneen, 10th or 11th, and other top line athletes including Andy Buchanan (Bendigo), Brady Threlfall (Bendigo), Liam Adams (Essendon) and former Box Hill athlete, Anthony Aloisio (Richmond).
About 60 metres behind this second pack Will Potter and Matt O’Donnell were running side by side. Alexander Ritchie was only a little way further back and was putting in a good performance. Also running really well was Josh de Stefanis clearly in the top sixty.
When the leaders appeared in the distance to complete the first of two laps of the lake, Birmingham had eased away from Harry Summers and held a seven second lead, with Harry maintaining excellent cadence and looking smooth as he pursued the Ballarat runner. Well over forty seconds later, the remnants of the second pack arrived with Threlfall, Buchanan, Adams and Aloisio prominent. Andre Waring was in 12th position ahead of Steve Dinneen. James O’Connell was running his best race in a very long time and held 19th position. Twenty-two seconds behind James were Will Potter and Matt O’Donnell still running side by side. Alexander Ritchie was 64 seconds behind Will and Matt, perhaps holding 50th position. Josh de Stefanis was a further 29 seconds behind Alex. Other Box Hill athletes to cross this point whose times were recorded were Michael Vaughan (32:21), Garth Calder (32:39), Michael Petridis (34:03), Russell Clowes (34:07), Julie Norney (34:08?) Chris O’Connor (34:13) and Peter Stefanos (34:14).
The team place dynamics were extremely tight. There were five SSH athletes in the first 35, Western Athletics had four in the top 30, Melbourne University also had four in the top 30, and Box Hill had five in the top 30. It looked like Box Hill was holding a narrow advantage over the other clubs, but it was tight, as it has been every winter race.
At the conclusion of the second lap of Lake Wendouree, Collis Birmingham ran over a relatively easy winner in the smart time of 45:41. Harry Summers (46:28) maintained his tempo to win the silver medal with Brady Threlfall (Bendigo) claiming the bronze medal (47:01), a result which was a surprise leading in five runners who finished in close succession. Anthony Aloisio (47:05) was fourth, Andree Waring was fifth (47:06), Andy Buchanan (47:08) was sixth and Liam Adams (47:08) was seventh. Andre picked up seven places in the final lap, a notable effort.
Will Potter also kept passing athletes in the concluding stage of the race and finished 14th. Steve Dinneen had been ill during the week and he displayed gritty determination to record 17th place, whilst James O’Connell ran an excellent race to place 21st, definitely his best effort for the whole season and reminding onlookers of his true ability. Matt O’Donnell found the 15 k distance a little longer than he would have liked. However, his determination to finish enabled our division 1 team to win the teams’ race., from Melbourne University, Western Athletics, with SSH fourth. We believe we now have a margin of 9 points over SSH, with whom we were tied after the first four races
Alex Ritchie (46th) and Josh de Stefanis (50th) both had excellent outings and would have made the Premier Division team of every other club, except for Melbourne University. Michael Vaughan also made the top hundred, completing the course in 95th position.
Our Division 2 team finished fourth and our 50+ team won the division with Garth Calder winning the gold medal for his age group. Chris O’Connor and Peter Stefanos both finished 4th in their respective age division.
Julie Norney performed exceptionally well, winning her age group category and placing 14th. She is a fantastic competitor, and there would appear to be further improvement in store in forthcoming races. Belinda Dutton completed the course in 124th position in a determined display of running.
No junior runners presented themselves to compete in the underage race.
Provisional team results
- Box Hill 101
- Melbourne University 160
- Western Athletics 190
- SSH 247
- Glen Huntly 253
- Ballarat 295
- Box Hill 545
- Box Hill 17
- Athletics Waverley 51
- APS 57
- Collis BirminghamBallarat 45:41
- Harry Summers Box Hill 46:28
- Brady ThrelfallBendigo 47:01
- Anthony AloisioRichmond 47:05
- Andre Waring Box Hill 47:06
- Andy BuchananBendigo 47:08
- Liam AdamsEssendon 47:08
- Dane VerweyFrankston 47:20
- Will Potter Box Hill 48:10
- Steve Dinneen Box Hill 48:27
- James O’Connell Box Hill 48:47
- Matt O’Donnell Box Hill 51:05
- Alex Ritchie Box Hill 51:21
- Josh de Stefanis Box Hill 51:52
- Michael Vaughan Box Hill 55:28
- Garth Calder Box Hill 56:29
- Michael Petridis Box Hill 57:29
- Russell Clowes Box Hill 57:36
- Chris O’Connor Box Hill 58:14
- Peter Stefanos Box Hill 58:53
- Simon St Hill Box Hill 73:42
- Andrew Tunne Box Hill 81:12
- Sarah KleinFrankston 53:27
- Kiah FryFrankston 53:33
- Charlotte WilsonEssendon 53:57
- Julie Norney Box Hill 58:22
124 Belinda Dutton Box Hill 81:17
Men Premier Division (Team 1st)
2 Harry Summers 46:28.7
5 Andre Waring 47:06.7
14 Will Potter 48:10.5
17 Stephen Dinneen 48:27.9
21 James O’Connell 48:47.2
42 Matthew O’Donnell 51:05.1
Men Division 2 (Team 4th)
46 Alex Ritchie 51:21.1
50 Josh De Stefanis 51:52.3
93 Michael Vaughan 55:28.0
111 Garth Calder 56:29.2 (1st, 55-59 years)
122 Michael Petridis 57:29.2
123 Russell Clowes 57:36.5
Men Division 3
142 Chris O’Connor 58:14.1
146 Kennedy Chen 58:45.0
148 Peter Stefanos 58:53.4
303 Simon St Hill 73:42.5
325 Andrew Tunne 81:21.8
Men 50 +
3 Garth Calder 56:29.2
6 Chris O’Connor 58:14.1
8 Peter Stefanos 58:53.4
Women Premier Division
- Julie Norney 58:22.5 (1st, 45-49 years)
- Belinda Dutton 81:17.6