Cross Country - champions!
Footy Tipping-- best tipper?
Round 1: Jells Park Relays on Saturday May 4
Round 4: Andrew Scott’s Anglesea race report
Round four of the ten-round competition was the fourth consecutive 'off road' course which provided the most challenging conditions that runners have encountered this season. Recent rain made it a slippery deck in parts, this combined with the varying gradient and mix of road, path, trail and boardwalks meant that runners needed to exercise caution and patience when negotiating what lay in front of them.
4.5 teams were entered and for Nunawading this was easily our most successful round thus far.
After a 6th place in the Jells Park relay and then failing to score any team points in rounds two and three, pleasingly our women's team collected some vital points by finishing second in Division three, well lead by Gemma who had a strong opening run for the maximum 9.2km distance and then well backed up by Hannah, Ashleigh and Nicole.
Our top men's team (division three) had limited success in the early rounds as reflected by placings of 13th, 12th and 14th in the 15-team competition thus far. Needless to say a good result was the requisite in order to move out of the 'relegation zone' which is the penalty for finishing in the bottom two teams for the season. The team was boosted with Kyle making his first appearance for the team this season as our lead-off runner and his contribution to the team by my calculations boosted our result by four places which could be 'huge' at year end, impressively his 9.2km was a relative warm up for his 20km walk at the state champs the following day at Albert Park. For the rest of the four legs we managed to maintain a strong position in the first half of the teams, with Gary in his final season in the under 60's age group, hobbling over the finish line as our final runner in 6th place to earn some vital team points.
Our Division Five men's team ran a somewhat patient race, with the Pappster being the second last runner (in the entire completion) to actually start the course.
Our over 60's team could not match it with a full-strength Williamstown team to claim a silver medal to complement the gold medal they claimed at Jells Park. I feel it worthy of a mention at this stage of the season to emphasise that both Norm and Steve were inaugural members of the club dating back to 1971, so they are nearing a half century of representation in Nuna colours, still running strong and just as importantly being great ambassadors for both the club and the sport itself.
In terms of the post-race festivities: Adam made a name for himself as a contender for two awards. Firstly the 'NUNABOT' award for the NUNA Best On (the pool) Table with an honourable mention to Phil who peaked early but 'hit the wall' late in the evening against the Waverley boys. Secondly Adam threw out the Gauntlet to Jeff the three-time defending champing for the 'Ugliest Jumper Award', I will let the readers determine the winner of that award.
We now venture to the roads for the next three rounds, starting with Sandown, then Albert Park and Ballarat for July races of the season.
Round 5: Andrew Scott’s Sandown race report
Round five was the third relay event for the season with all team members running two laps of the 3.1km Sandown circuit. Nunawading had 15 runners across four teams and pleasingly the conditions were both runner and spectator friendly in terms of the temperature and sunshine, albeit with the usual headwind that buffets the runners as they entered, they home straight on each of the two laps.
Gemma got the women’s team off to a great start, her sub 27 minute time was the eight fastest time amongst the 31 runners in division three and she was well supported by Nicole and then Ashleigh who finished her leg with Nuna in a clear 4th place, unfortunately with four runners required for the relay, the team failed to finish and register any points.
The division five team was highlighted by two sub 30-minute times from Tony and Phil, which represented their best runs for the season. A 7th place finish pleasingly will bump the team up a few rungs on the ladder and put us outside the relegation zone. In fact, after finishing 13th in round one, the division five has successively improved each round with placings of 13th, 12th, 11th, 10th and now 7th.
The division three team was once again lead off by Kyle who started aggressively and split a ten and half minute first lap for the 3.1km circuit, he faded slightly but hung on gamely to set up the middle runners. By the time our team captain started the anchor leg the team was in 12th place. Mark was able to reel in two teams early on in his leg and then thanks to some motivational words from a couple of spotters he was able to catch Melbourne Uni with only meters to spare to get the team up to 9th place. This result will help lift the team up one position on the ladder to 12th at the half way point of the season, with the 14th and 15th teams to be relegated at season end.
Finally, the over 60’s team faced a double threat from both KSB and Williamstown. KSB played their Ace on the first leg opening up an 80 second lead on Norm who changed over to Jeff in second place, Jeff reeled in KSB but was passed by Williamstown who played their Ace on the second leg. Steve, despite running the fastest anchor leg the third fastest time amongst the over 60 competitors was unable to catch Williamstown but drew further clear of KSB to claim consecutive silver medals (following on from their silver at Anglesea).
A special thank you to our volunteer helpers for the day: Scott; Adam and Mary.
Round 5 marked the half way point of the season. The next four rounds are individual races and given the high proportion of age group runners in the Nuna colours, I thought it would be timely to highlight the following runners’ positions on the AV age group ladders after the two individual rounds at St Anne’s and Bundoora respectively.
A special mention to Matt V and Jeff B who have both been knocking on the door for top 10 finishes in the 45-49 and 60+ age groups respectively. Look out for those two to score points at Albert Park next Sunday.
We have a one week turn around for the 10km road race at Albert Park, which is traditionally the most competitive round for the season with 500+ runners toeing the line in the men’s event and a low 38- minute time as the requisite for a finish in the first halk of the field.
Round 6: Andrew Scott’s Albert Park race report
Despite an ordinary weekend of Melbourne weather, the runners seemingly got the best of the conditions for the 9.00am at Albert Park, the temperature was a mild 8 degrees and there was a light headwind that greeted the runners as they hit the turnaround point at the St Kilda 2nd of the two lap course.
As forecasted on the previous XCR report, the standard of competition was impressive, with 13 runners breaking 36 minutes in the female competition and 13 runners breaking the 30-minute mark in the men's race which highlights the depth of runners in Victoria atm.
The combined men's and women's start along with the U18/U20 runner made the early part of the run somewhat of a shuffle for the runners starting towards the rear of the field given the 800 plus competitors that toed the start line.
With a few late scratchings, Nunawading had three women and nine male competitors. Gemma once again led the women home, finishing in the top 100 of registered runners, a credible performance given the caliber of the field, she was well backed up by Hannah and Ashleigh.
In the Men's race, Mark our team captain, who notably has been the first Nuna finisher in all three individual rounds of the XCR season, managed to run a handful of seconds quicker than his result last year and managed to dip under the 36-minute barrier. As also predicted here on the previous XCR report both Jeff and Matt were able to achieve their first top 10 age group placings for the season in their respective age groups. Steve's 4th place in the 60 plus age group is the highest age group placing by a club member this season and he is a good bet to get on the podium at Ballarat in a fortnight given his steady improvement over the course of the season.
The top 5 male runners which formed our Division three team boasted an average age of @ 52-53 years and pleasingly 'Dads Army' finished in 10th place which has given us a vital buffer from the relegation zone.
Thanks to the return of Pete from a 3-round injury lay off and a courageous run by Adam who battled through ill health to finish the race, we had enough runners to fill our division five team which managed to score some vital points and seemingly put us out of the relegation conversation.
The highlight of the round was the Men's over 60 team which managed to seal a one-point win over Williamstown thanks to the three top 10 finishes of the Steve, Norm and Jeff. With two wins and four second placings from the six rounds thus far, if they can knock off Williamstown next round, then things could get interesting.
Next round we venture to the artic conditions at Ballarat in two weeks time for the 15km road race.
Round 7: Andrew Scott’s Lake Wendouree race report
Venue: Lake Wendouree – Ballarat
Distance: 15km (road surface)
The runner friendly conditions that greeted the round seven runners provide a welcome change to the usual windswept conditions on offer at Ballarat and thus resulted in relatively fast times for the competitors who were well prepared for the distance (15km). The vast majority of the team were more than happy with their times/performance, highlighted by Mark running within 10 seconds of his PB with a slick time of 54.16 at the age of 42 and only narrowly missing a place in the top 100.
Gary who sustained at injury at Anglesea (round 4) returned to competition and provided a much needed boost to the Div.3 team by dipping under the one hour mark and thus achieved the unique feat of running his age i.e. 59 minutes for a 59 year old (for 15 km).
Pleasingly we managed to have 9 male finishers and with both our Div.3 and Div.5 teams in 8th place, our fears of relegation have seemingly been placed ‘off the radar’.
Interestingly all nine of runners were over-age (40+) and given the strong runs across the board, both our over 40’s team and over 50’s team had their highest team placings for the year – finishing 9th and 5th respectively. In fact Nuna was the only Men’s club to score points in the three age (team) divisions, highlighted by over 60’s team who mirrored their efforts from Albert Park with a one point win over Williamstown and now sit just two points behind Williamstown on the championship table, a win next round will see us draw level with two rounds to go.
Another impressive statistic is that 7 of the Nuna runners achieved a top 10 performance in their respective age group (up from 4 x top 10’s at Albert Park).
A shout out to Gemma and Ashleigh who both had strong runs to dip under significant barriers i.e. sub 70 and sub 80 minute respectively while claiming PB’s in the process.
Round 8: Washout
Round 9: Andrew Scott’s Burnley Half Marathon race report
After a lengthy (six week) hiatus since the last XCR competition due to the cancellation of Round 8 at Cruden Farm (poor weather), Nuna arrived to Burnley with ‘depleted stocks’ in terms of the available personnel.
Once again, the runners were gifted the best of the weekend weather on a relative still and dry morning for the Half Marathon distance. With one junior, one female, five male starters and one spectator (Pappster) it was a somewhat subdued scene at the pre-race Nuna assembly point.
Kavin running for the second time this year managed a respectable 19.14 for the 5 km distance.
The men as stated above started with five runners, but unfortunately both Matt and Adam had to ‘pull the pin’ so to speak during the race due to health/fitness issues and thus each recorded a ‘dnf’.
Our team captain who by his own admission had an interrupted preparation ran just outside 80 minutes, but for those of you like your statistics, allow me to draw your attention to an impressive statistic. Mark has now completed a ‘Jim Stynes’ like streak for XCR races by finishing his 46th straight race, the last time he missed a race was Round One 2015. To give this streak a bit more perspective the next best current is streak is by yours truly at a meagre 7 runs. Mark’s streak highlights not just his commitment to the club and the sport itself, but more significantly his durability to maintain fitness during the winter months and manage the inevitable niggles and injuries that plague older runners and results in the rest of us scratching from various events during each season. Pete’s backed up a solid run at Ballarat by finishing just one minute slower than his course PB set last year.
But I have saved the best for last. Bridget Humphrey had her highest ever XCR finish with her 13th outright placing in the women’s field and was in fact the 11th registered finisher, a mere one second from a top ten result. To give her time of 1.21:35 some further perspective, a quick check of the national rankings (on the Athletics Australia website) revealed that as of the first half of the year, only 18 female runners had run a faster time in Australia in the large public half marathons such as Sydney, Noosa and Canberra. Please note that the rankings have not been updated since June. Bridget has incredible ‘range’ given she is an elite 800/1500 runner, the fact that her prowess extends all the way up to a ‘half’ indicates that she is in great shape for the upcoming summer season.
Unfortunately for the first time in many years (if not ever) Nuna failed to score any team points due to being one finisher short in the Men’s Div 3 team. Fortunately, we have enough of a buffer to be safe from relegation with just the final round at the Tan remaining (Saturday 21-September).
For the final report (post Round 10), I will provide an overview of our final positions in the various team divisions and highlight top ten finishers on the relevant Age Group Ladders.
Round 10: Andrew Scott’s Tan report
The 2019 XCR season came to a close with the final round of competition at the 38th staging of the ‘Tan Relays’. Once again the conditions were runner friendly with a seemly balmy 20 degrees at the 9.00 start time and the rain holding off during the competition. The men’s Div 3 & 5 teams were boosted by a sprinkling of youth.
Kyle started our Div 3 team off patiently, having learned from a previous performance at the Tan by allowing many of the fast starting Div 1 to 3 and junior runners to get a gap on him, his tactics paid off as he was able to finish strongly with Nuna’s only sub 13 minute clocking for the day. Kavin made his senior debut for Nuna running a solid 4th leg in the Div 3 team which still faced a remote possibility of relegation. 11th place in Div 3 just ahead of our close rivals was enough to maintain and overall position of 11th out of the 15 Div 3 teams and thus avoid relegation by three spots (the 14th & 15th teams to be relegated).
Frank with his first run since round 5 got the Div 3 team off to a good start, which was matched by Corey who is a sub 50 second 400 runner and was thus stepping well outside of his comfort zone given the 3.83 km distance of the tan. The Div 5 team matched the Div 3 team finishing 11th.
Once again we failed to fill a team in the women’s Div 3 section. Despite this both Hannah and Nicole rounded out the season in style with a solid runs after a lengthy hiatus from competition.
Our over 60’s team minus Jeff (who was manning the Government house Drive checkpoint) added Dave Sommers to the team. Despite leading for the first 10km of the race, we were reeled in by arch rivals Williamstown just past the shrine on the final lap and thus finished with Nuna’s third silver medal for the season to complement the gold medal won at Jells Park in Round One.
See below for the results from the Tan and then the following page for our final season standings in the various divisions along with some season highlights/random statistics.
A special mention to our three age group competitors – Mark, Steve & Norm who finished on the Top 10 ladders which was based on a points system for top 10 finishes from the five individual rounds of competition.
Before signing of the 2019 XCR season a few thank-you’s are in order
Pappster: for turning up with a full esky @ 5 of the rounds for a post-rate debrief and what represents both a social outlet for the warm camaraderie that exists between the winter crew as well as a fundraiser for the club.
Mark who has completed his 5th season as XCR captain which particularly for the four relay rounds can become an arduous task. Thanks Mark for your professional approach and timely communication of the necessary logistical requirements for each round.
The various volunteers who have turned up for the duties that the club is required to supply for some of the rounds.
PTO for a few season Highlights
Final standings for 2019 Season
Team Final Ladder position Best result
Women’s Div 3 Team 8th 2nd Anglesea
Men’s Div 3 Team 11th 5th Anglesea
Men’s Div 5 Team 10th 7th Sandown
Men’s Over 40 Team 19th 9th Ballarat
Men’s Over 50 Team 11th 5th Ballarat
Men’s Over 60 Team 2nd 1st Jells/Albert Park/Ballarat
top 10 age group finishers on the av ladders (based on top 4 performances for the 5 individual rounds)
Runner Age Group Final Ladder position Best result
Mark Deslandes 40-44 9th 7th Ballarat
Steve Vernal 60+ 5th 4th Albert Park
Norm Marshall 60+ 9th 7th Albert Park
2019 Season Highlights/random statistics
Best Age graded performance Men’s (as per Mark’s club championship table): Gary Hall 85% (aged 59) for his time of 59.50 15km at Ballarat
Best Age graded performance Women’s: Bridget Humphrey 81% (aged 29) 81.37 at Burnley Half Marathon
Best Age graded performance Junior’s: Foad Hassen 75% (aged 16) 22.05 at Jells Park 6km
Highest Age group placing: Steve Vernal – 4th place in the 60+ at Albert Park 10km
Highest overall Women’s placing: Bridget Humphrey 13th at Burnley Half Marathon
Highest overall Men’s placing: Mark Deslandes – 104th place at Ballarat 15km
Ironman award: Mark Deslandes the only Nuna runner to complete all 9 rounds of competition.
Most number of Nuna Senior Men’s competitors: 13 at Sandown & Anglesea
Most number of Nuna Senior Women’s competitors: 4 at Jells Park