Julieanne Strachan April 15, 2012
Sam Crowther, of Wantirna, male winner of the 10km Dash. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
FRACTURES in her fibula may have been painful for Canberra athlete Natasha Cole but none of that showed yesterday, as she shook off injury to win the women's 10-kilometre dash on the first day of the Australian Running Festival.
She crossed the line in a time of 37 mins 24 secs in a triumphant return to racing, after two leg fractures sustained during a Hobart half-marathon in January.
Cole had counted herself out of the Canberra event but in a last-minute decision, gave in to temptation and decided to have a crack. ''Last week I decided that I couldn't resist and I'm really happy to have come back,'' she said. ''I'm feeling good.''
Victorian runner Sam Crowther gave it everything he had to win the men's 10-kilometre dash in a time of 31:42, eclipsing Jacob Cocks who was hot on his heels with a time of 31:57.
Crowther was a late starter to running, taking up the sport at 15 years of age. He said yesterday's win showed it was never too late to take up competitive running.
The bachelor of science student, now aged 23, travelled from Melbourne with the Knox Athletics Club, which is fielding a number of runners across the two days of competition.
''I ran in the five-ks last year and I thought it was time I toughen up a bit and do the 10-ks,'' he said.
The Knox Athletics Club lays claim to three Olympians and one ParaOlympian.
Hundreds of athletes from around the country turned out yesterday for the start of the running festival, with the half marathon, marathon and ultra marathon to be held today.
More than 1000 people will compete across the two-day program.
Blind runner Magella Knoble ran in the 10-kilometre fun run at 4pm accompanied by Brian O'Dea, who helped guide her along the course. The pair were members of the Achilles Running Club in Sydney and said that yesterday's weather was ideal for the event.
The Canberra Times general manager Ken Nicholls fired the starting gun on yesterday's events, which began with the five-kilometre run at 1pm, where Riley Cocks claimed victory with a time of 15:12, followed by Reilly Shaw in 15:55 and Brayden Clews-Proctor in 16:13.
For the women, Anita Keem took first place in a time of 17:23, followed by Natalie Archer in 17:39 and Keely Small in 17:42.
The festival has raised a record $135,000 for more than 170 Australian charities and is supported by local clubs including the YMCA of Canberra Runners Club.
Race director Fred Taylor said he was excited by the response the event had received in Canberra. ''So many people turned out to take part,'' he said.
Men: Riley Cocks 15 min 12 sec; Reilly Shaw, 15:55; Brayden Clews-Proctor, 16:13.
Women: Anita Keem, 17:23; Natalie Archer, 17:39; Keely Small, 17:42.
Men: Sam Crowther, 31:42; Jacob Cocks, 31:57; Chadi Elashkar, 32:59.
Women: Natasha Cole, 37:24; Christine Wolfson, 39:12; Dominique Ferguson, 40:55.