Harrigan takes out the Australia Day Fun Run

DISTANCE specialist Joel Harrigan has written his name into the record books by taking out the inaugural 10km long course Australia Day Fun Run around the Coffs Jetty Foreshores.

After setting up a big lead by the half way point, Harrigan only needed to keep plugging away to eventually coast home by a big space.

“Before the race I took a punt that Wade O'Malley could be my main rival and designed a plan to put the pressure on him right from the start,” he said.

O'Malley made a major blunder as the field took off by running to the incorrect exit gate, forcing him to double back and become a chaser, rather than sit in his favoured position up front.

“So that's what happened,” Harrigan said when informed of the circumstances.

“I saw him out of one eye circling the field and decided to put the pressure on straight away.

“It allowed me to run at my own pace and have the luxury of being on autopilot for the last 5km of the race.

“After seeing how big the lead was it was a matter of pushing harder to make sure nobody else was in the mood to challenge.”

Harrigan said the course was full of surprises and took some sorting out along the way.

“The bits where we got into soft sand were pretty testing and I don't reckon many of the runners would have found that easy,” he added.

“Then going further down toward the high tide mark, there was some water to go through near the North Wall beach but overall, it was pretty good.”

A community project organised by Coffs Harbour Surf Life Saving Club, the Australia Day Fun Run was run over three distances - 2km, 5km and 10km - and attracted 236 starters when the club was hopeful of getting around one hundred starters for the first staging of the event.

Club president Terry Maher was jubilant at the immediate success.

“We are really surprised at how many people turned up,” he said.

“This is fantastic and you'd think we'll have a fair chance of building something special from here on.”

Men and women competed against each other on an equal footing and instead of ending up with a lopsided competition, the ladies rose to the occasion.

Zoe Burgess blitzed her rivals in the 2km event while experienced Melissa Bulloch was placed against all comers in the major run.

There were plenty of positive remarks from the spectators and runners and it was noticeable how many older competitors opted for the long course race.

Newly appointed AFL administrator Mark Heaney took part in the 5km version and was glowing in his praise.

“There are lots of families taking part with mums and dads running with the kids,” he said.

“A fabulous way to get out and celebrate Australia Day while having a bit of fun and I think the surf club have a hit on their hands.”

RESULTS

Coffs Harbour SLSC Australia Day Fun Run

10km Long Course

1 - Joel Harrigan

2 - Steve McGrane

3 - Melissa Bulloch

5km Mid Course

1 - Glenn Price

2 - James Franklin

3 - Wade O'Malley

2km Short Course

1 - Zoe Burgess

2 - Craig Fletcher

3 - Richard Fletcher



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