Stuart proves he is a mountain man
SYDNEY runners made the long journey to Woolgoolga worthwhile with victories in this year's NSW Mountain Running Championships held for the first time outside a major metropolitan area.
Stuart Patterson clinched the open men's State title with a surge on a flatter stage of the 12 kilometres of hill climb west of Woolgoolga on Sunday morning.
Patterson sought to use that surge to pop him clear of his nearest rivals so that even if he was unable to maintain his speed the margin gained would ensure victory.
So it proved with James Moncada's strong finish falling nearly a minute short of the North Sydney Athletic Club member.
Third across the finish line was early leader Scott Thomson from Bellingen whose whose finish time was also almost a minute adrift of the runner who preceded him.
Fourth spot went to the official NSW runner-up Neil Vaughan who scored his first State senior medal at the ripe old age of 50.
He acknowledged that Patterson's time of 52.26 will take some beating on the substantially uphill course.
The junior men's 8 kilometres also saw a Sydney-sider take the Championship from Woolgoolga athlete Andrew Iddles with Grafton's Cody Attwater third.
The Sydney Striders athlete capped off a busy couple of days with his run at Woopi coming only two days after contesting the State All-Schools Cross Country at Eastern Creek.
Iddles surprised everyone including himself with a strong showing over an unfamiliar distance.
The women's events went to script in one sense in that promising young competitors prevailed in both the 8km and 4km.
With no Championship medals on the line due to an absence of fully registered ANSW runners, Bonnie Hancock took line honours in the 8 kilometres and Zoe Burgess impressed all with her outstanding effort in the Under 20 4 kms.
Hancock at 16 displayed the same tenacity on the hills of Woolgoolga which has see her conquer the unpredictable ocean as a surf lifesaver.
Burgess who finished in the top twenty in Sydney on Friday put over four minutes on Elise Rowland in a remarkable display for a nine year old.
Second in the open women's was the ever-reliable Tina Thompson whose 42.25 was only just over a minute behind her younger rival.
Lyn Fulton in third and Elspeth Baalman in fourth were also only a minute apart.
After the trek to the top all the runners enjoyed the hospitality of the Woolgoolga Athletic Club at Apex Park before the presentation of medals and certificates by Cr Clive Joass who is also President of the Woolgoolga Sports Council, Stacy Stearn who was representing the Gumbangir people, Athletic Australia Life Member Jill Huxley, Athletics NSW Director Michael O'Mara, Craig Bulloch and Dr Ray Jones.
Early indications are that the Woolgoolga club could be given hosting rights again in two years time when the World Mountain Running Championship is again an uphill event.