Locals strong in Great Whitehaven run
RUNNING: This year's Great Whitehaven Beach Run was set alight by talent on Sunday and the message was clear - that this is a beach and an event that should be on everyone's bucket list.
Blessed with a magical winter's day, the record field for all three events - the half marathon, 10km and 5km - welcomed podium place- getters from across the nation and the world.
Local Ashlea Achilles returned to competitive running with a stunning victory in the 10km event.
A Hamilton Island staff member, Achilles won by over three minutes in 42 minutes 17 seconds ahead of Mackay's Alana Ford and another Hamilton Island competitor, Kathy McCarthy.
It was a win for NSW however in the men's event, with David Jenkins pipping the Netherlands' Woulter Luinge and Victorian Frank Shevlin.
Another pre-race favourite, Bowen's Elliarna Mitchell, also handled the pressure with aplomb, finishing third overall in the 5km and two minutes clear of Cannonvale's Riana Cashinella and Wendy Versluis of Sugarloaf.
Both Mitchell and Townsville's Josiah McCarthy defended their 2016 titles.
An enthralling battle between Jubilee Pocket's Roland Henderson and Brisbane's Richard Edwards over the half marathon led to a dramatic finish. It wasn't until the final 500m that Edwards was able to edge away from Henderson and take the win by a mere eight seconds after an epic one hour 28 minute battle.
Another Victorian, this time Bacchus Marsh's Paul Barton, took the final podium position, having found himself in no-man's land and running solo.
For the women, Junia Larsen of Buderim cut a lone figure at the front of the field, winning in one hour 37 minutes and well clear of second placed Pamela Hudson-Jessop and Aleisha Murray.
On the local front, there were age category wins for Strathdickie's Kirsty Waugh (half marathon, 30-39 years), Hamilton Island's Paul Fraser (half, 40-49) and Mick McCarthy (10km, 50-59), Proserpine's Lucy Pepper (5km, 30-39) and from Cannonvale, Stuart Allwright and Joleen Tirendi who both won the 10km 40-49 years age groups.
Attention now turns to the Airlie Beach Running Festival in July and the Hamilton Island Endurance Series, wrapping up with the triathlon and Whitehaven Beach Ocean Swim in November. Competitors are urged to register soon.