Big gun fires in top run

Olympian Steve Moneghetti powers to victory in the inaugural Bendigo Bank Half Marathon in Coffs Harbour.
Olympian Steve Moneghetti powers to victory in the inaugural Bendigo Bank Half Marathon in Coffs Harbour. Leigh Jensen

STAR attraction Steve Moneghetti came, saw and conquered in the inaugural Bendigo Bank Half Marathon yesterday.

The Bendigo-based Olympian raced into the record books when he won the event in one hour, 15 minutes and 22 seconds with local athletes filling the minor placings.

Champion Emerald Beach distance athlete Melissa Bulloch added another trophy to the cabinet when she took out the women's event in one hour, 29 minutes and two seconds.

More than 1300 competitors took part in the event, exceeding the expectations of chief organisers Mick Maley and the Rotary Club of Coffs Harbour.

Adding to the lustre of the spectacle was the official opening of the 7.8km Coffs Creek Cycleway, created through a $1 million bequest from the Hogbin family and a joint project involving the economic stimulus of the ALP federal government and Coffs Harbour City Council.

Moneghetti said he and Maley had been friends for more than 20 years and expressed his pleasure at being invited to participate.

"I've been to a lot of places around the world and can guarantee I've never been to a track that's not just in the CBD, but in the main street," he said.

"A lot of people got together to build it but the public has come and used it.

"How fulfilling it is for the Hogbin family to see it used today at the opening, so well done to all of you."

Representing his mother Barbara and late father Allen, former council Ian Hogbin took part in the run and thanked Moneghetti for not showing him up too badly.

"I kept a lookout for him and was pleased he wasn't going around again by the time I finished," he quipped.

In fact, the champion runner's three-day visit has been an all-round triumph with a wide cross-section of the community praising his humility and good nature.

Rotarian Neil Cole was on duty at Coffs Jetty when Moneghetti came past in the run.

"He made it look so easy and was able to stop along the way to encourage the other runners," he said.

"And he wasn't even puffed.

"Certainly, an amazing athlete."

Check Tuesday's Coffs Coast Advocate for more half marathon pictures and a list of the first three placegetters in each division.

Topics:  steve moneghetti