Inaugural run shines in sun

Inaugural run shines in sun

The inaugural Coonawarra Running Festival raced into action on the weekend.

The event took place under sunny skies at Coonawarra Park and raised funds for Breakthrough Mental Health Research Foundation.

More than 300 people hit the track along the Coonawarra Rail Trail and Coonawarra Running Festival committee member Sandra Wallis said the event was a major success.

“We as a team are really pleased … it was such a fun, festival feel,” Wallis said.

“We had lots of positive comments and we have been answering emails and getting phone calls and text messages of congratulations, so we’re pleased and proud of what we have done.”

The event coincided with the opening of the Coonawarra Rail Trail by Member for Barker Tony Pasin.

The 21-kilometre half-marathon male winner was David Staehr from Kaniva with a time of 1 hour, 18 minutes and 36 seconds, followed by Justin McDonald at 1 hour, 32 minutes and 2 seconds.

Vienna Tran was the 21km female winner with a time of 1 hour, 46 minutes and 45 seconds, beating Jess Edwards by just one minute.

13-year-old Josh Cameron was the 12km male winner with a time of 46 minutes and 23 seconds with next competitor Jarred Dempsey crossing the line at 51 minutes and 11 seconds.

The female 12km winner was Kathryn Auld followed by Kate McDonald.

12-year-old Joel Crawford won the 6km with a time of 25 minutes and 45 seconds followed by Paige Kasheed at 25 minutes 56 seconds.

Ben Baxter claimed the 1km honours with a time of 6 minutes 34 seconds, closely followed by Jackson Staehr at 6 minutes 45 seconds.

Wallis said the Wobbly Winery Walk participants had a fun day, with around 55 people participating.

“We thought it was great to see a lot of the wobbly walkers all dressed up and getting into the spirit of things,” she said.

Wallis said the first Coonawarra Running Festival entry they received was from a Penola woman and the last entrant was a wobbly walk participant from Queensland.

Breakthrough Mental Health Research Foundation representatives attended the event with funds raised soon to flow to the foundation.

“They have already provided 40 places for mental health first aid-workshops in Penola, so the money is already coming directly back into the community,” Wallis said.

“The whole reason we started this fundraiser was a dream by Penola local Lucy Williams of starting up a mental health first-aid ambulance for our region.”

There was plenty of food and beverages, market stalls, a Show ‘n’ Shine, face painting for the kids and the CFS brought its mascot – Smokey the Koala.

The Show ‘n’ Shine organised by Jeff Pahl attracted around 55 entries, with a range of cars and motorbikes valued at an estimated $3.5m.

Penola resident Michael ‘Larry’ Lambert claimed the people’s choice award for his 2014 Indian motorbike, while the award for the highest kilometres travelled to the event went to Tony Eyers from Portland, who drove a Silver Mink 1968 327 CI HK Monaro.

The committee thanked Bob Wilson from Lynx Security and Investigations for sponsoring the categories and thanked Jeff Pahl, DiGiorgio Family Wines, Leconfield Coonawarra, Merrett Logging, Southern Autobody and Deland’s Engineering of Penola for their support.

Almost 30 market stalls stocked an array of goods, from candles and jewellery to Nepalese clothing, baked goods, soaps, re-purposed wooden items and more.

Wallis said it was great to see the event come together after more than a year of planning.

“We have had lots of positive comments and great ideas and people are really keen for us to come back next year,” she said.

The event was supported by many people, including community groups, the CWA, Penola Lions Club, Penola Bowling Club and the Penola Scout Group.

“We were fortunate to receive financial sponsorship as well as In-Kind donations,” Ms Wallis said, adding Wattle Range Council did an amazing job preparing Coonawarra Park and assisting with road closures.

Committee member Josie Abbey thanked the community for all its support and the volunteers for their efforts.

“We were so lucky with the weather, it was just a fantastic turnout and we are so appreciative of all our sponsors, whether it was financial or in-kind,” Abbey said.

“It was a fun day, we have had nothing but positive feedback.

“It was just a really great community effort.”

Visit to purchase professional photos from the event.

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