Stories of square dancing, marriage proposals, shameless trail nudity and vegemite covered buttocks along with a list of hazards as long as the Goldfields Trail itself completely removed any doubts runners may have had regarding the Gold Rush being anything but ordinary.
The Goldfields Trail was however on its best behaviour for the 2012 Gold Rush – creeks were clear, regular and pumping, the trail surface was quite dry (for April in Babinda), wait-a-while, stinging tree and snakes were almost completely absent while the leeches were apparently satisfied with the feasts and feet they’d enjoyed earlier in the week. A couple of 23km competitors went so far as to question the ‘toughness’ of the saddle climb although the bruised, broken and busted bodies sprawled helplessly around the presentation area went some way to disprove their claim.
The square dancing, marriage proposals and nudity were all direct results of the newly introduced ‘Marshalls Shout’ – an incentive to help entrants demonstrate their gratitude to the on course marshalls who in turn were invited to nominate the most enthusiastic, fun or humorous runner they encountered on course. Amongst some very entertaining and grateful displays, Matthew Dewar’s mid causeway push ups and Julie Sager’s “joyous and gregarious” nature earned them the first ever marshall’s shout. Kerrod (causeway marshall and marriage proposal recipient) wishes to publicly state his response was a firm ‘no’ and Stru – “checking for leeches” is one of the more creative excuses to get your gear off we’d heard and surely earned you a close second. A big golden thanks to all who made the marshall’s day far more entertaining.
At the pointy end, Cam Hardie (3:43:49) not only led home a quality field to become the 2012 Gold Rush Trail Marathon Champion (Oliver Zambon 2nd in 3:46:36 and Sam Stedman 3rd in 3:49:28), but took a minute of the race record (previously 3:44:52) and added the Gold Rush to the list of Adventure Sport NQ events swindled south by Townsville athletes. Steve Cunningham (4:06:46 and 4th overall) became the only person to complete all three Gold Rush Trail Marathons and again took out the Masters Category (40 to 59 years) while John Nuttal (5:17:08 and 9th overall) of Townsville established the record for the newly formed ‘Legends’ Category (60+) – Legend! Julie Sager (4:59:40) again ran strongly to become the Female Gold Rush Trail Marathon Champion ahead of Toowong based Tegwen Howell in second.
In the 23km Gold Rush, Tim McGrath (2:06:22) backed up his impressive Speewah Legend Footrace win with a solid victory ahead of Matt Carman (2:13:11) and Struan Lamont (2:14:56) while Adrian Garnett took out the Masters Category in 2:33:00 and placed seventh overall. In the Females, Susan Crowe shredded 10 minutes off the race record to beat home Jo Carman (2:35:54) and Leela Hancox (2:50:29).
Daniel Robinson stormed home in the 7km (35:29) while Davo Giordimaina (39:25) won the Masters and literally carried a rather weary Alan Elsdon-Bell (39:25) over the line to tie for second overall. Shona Jones (40:52) was just a creek crossing behind them to win the females ahead of Mandy Spry (43:21 and 1st Masters) and Irene Firestone (43:54). Teagen Rooke led the Juniors home in 45:16 while fellow junior 7k’ers Mikaela Crowe and Olivia Quinn took the opportunity to count creek crossings on their return run and tallied 18 – pretty regular for 3.5km of trail! Could we get someone to do that for the marathon in 2013 please?
All up, an extraordinary day and golden event; sweet trail, cool clear creeks, great numbers, records broken, awesome volunteers, cheerful trail runners, helpful emergency services and the fun, casual atmosphere for which Trail Runs are quickly gaining a reputation.
Oh, and if you’ve read this wondering about the vegemite covered buttocks story, it involves without doubt the most impressive performance of the day….. Marathon competitor Jason Hedges sacrificed his own event to help get a rather crook fellow runner home from around 8kms out. The selfless act added nearly 5 hours to the time Jas was out on course and involved unfortunately taking a seat on a previously cut Stinging Tree. This in turn meant extensive exposure followed by a few hours of solid discomfort (followed by a few weeks of slightly less solid discomfort), yet Jason still managed to run around to find mobile coverage and get valuable communication out, carry two packs and withhold from eating the race food he had remaining in case his new found and greatly appreciative mate recovered to the extent he could stomach anything. The vegemite link was a novel alternative treatment suggestion from a supportive (?) fellow competitor to supplement the waxing already undertaken. Jason can confirm that the Gold Rush will in fact make your buttocks clench (as warned on the Golden Lager beer label) but as of yet has not been able to confirm the effectiveness of vegemite in the treatment of Stinging Tree or whether the treatment was actually trialled. Whatever went on behind closed doors on Sunday night Jas, we thank you for your selflessness and think you’re an absolute legend. Might even give you free entry in 2013!
Author: Chris White (good on ya bro).