ATHLETICS: A first-timer and a defending champ were the winners on Sunday in the annual Great Ocean Run from Red Rock to Coffs Jetty sponsored by The Bailey Centre.
Craig Robinson from Port Macquarie made the trip through the rain to the Coffs Coast to win the Great Ocean Run at his first attempt in a time of 3.59.27. Second and third men James Eather and David Scroope were also newcomers to the event.
With the torrential rain on Saturday making course marking very difficult in places, all three placegetters and fourth-placed Gui Costa added extra distance to their efforts with minor detours before picking up the markers again.
A couple of minor detours did nothing to affect the win of defending women's champion Amanda Kyneur from the Gold Coast as she posted the excellent time of 4.23.09. Second lady was Emerald Beach local Tina Thompson 5.49.14 with another Gold Coaster, Ruth Tutton, third in 6.17.45. Fourth-placed woman, three-time women's champion Angie Grattan notched her 20th finish at the Jetty.
Other notable achievements saw Bob Beer finish his 22nd, Peter Mckenzie his 21st, Di McKenzie and Chris Cohen their 15th and Di Holt her 10th.
In the Amart Sports Ultra Relay, the winning men and women's two-person relay teams were also from the Gold Coast with Craig Churchward and Tony Planitz combining to reach the Jetty in 4.07.05 while Martine Marshall and Cath Nutt made it in 4.36.44.
In a first for the event, Amart Sports made vouchers available for the relay teams. Gold Coast teams who finished the full distance also gained financial reward from The Bailey Centre.
The organisers from the WRATS (Woolgoolga Running and Triathlon Society) were gratified by the faith shown by so many runners after wild weather proved a disincentive.
Several entrants were stranded by the floodwaters and several others opted to run the course from halfway at Sandy Beach, somewhat ironically, as that part of the course is considered the toughest.