The inaugural Wondai Country Festival marathon podium … Oliver Carey, from Sydney, 2nd; ultra marathon champion John Pearson, from Coolum, 1st; and Stuart Price, from Sydney, 3rd; John ran the 42.2km in 3:04:00

June 25, 2018

The annual Wondai Country Festival held its second outing at the weekend, and it turned out to be bigger than even the organisers had expected.

This year, Festival organisers added a 10km run, a 21.1km half-marathon and a full 42.2km marathon to the schedule … and extended the event to Sunday morning to accommodate the extra races.

They were rewarded with more than 180 registrations for the new runs, on top of 50 participants in the regular 5km Saturday parkrun and the 70 runners who took part in a 2km community fun run on Saturday morning.

Runners travelled from as far away as Sydney to take part in the longer races.

Marathon winner John Pearson, from Coolum, said it had been a great weekend at Wondai.

The 42.2km was basically a stroll for John, who has represented Australia in 24-hour ultra-marathons of more than 200km in length.

He started the weekend by taking part in Saturday morning’s 5km parkrun with his family members, which he said was a lot of fun.

In fact, John seemed impressed by all the Wondai events.

His son Jack came second in the 10km run through McEuen Forest and his daughter Ashby had fun volunteering as a part-time compere.

“In a lot of big marathons you pay a fortune to be part of an event,” John said.

“You get smashed all over the place. You can’t park the car and you get a ticket when you finish … everybody’s grumpy.

“Here, it’s chilled out … cheap, affordable accommodation, great event, great community.

“You’ve got good local sponsors that got this off the ground and I’m sure like many regional events, it’ll continue to grow.

“I’ll be doing my best to come back and bring others with me next year.

“Finally, a big thank you to all the volunteers!”

Volunteers are key to a big event like the Wondai Country Festival and they were everywhere at the weekend … in Coronation Park, the art gallery, at the marathon finishing line and manning drink stations along the course.

SES volunteers were also out in force, guarding road crossings along the marathon route.

Festival organising committee member Ros Heit, a keen runner, said the committee had decided to add the distance runs this year after the shorter runs received an enthusiastic response last year.

She said the weather had provided great running conditions and the South Burnett Rail Trail was a near-perfect course.

Sponsors for the weekend included Ken Mills Toyota, Bendigo Bank, the Peanut Company of Australia and the South Burnett Regional Council.

Volunteer Donna Clark, from Kingaroy, was kept busy handing our hand-crafted wooden medallions – made by the Wondai Woodcrafters – to each runner as they crossed the finishing line
Heading towards the finishing line in the inaugural Wondai Country Festival marathon … male winner John Pearson, from Coolum; runner-up Oliver Carey, from Sydney; and the first woman home, Sara Winter, from Townsville
Soul Love, from Wondai, won the half-marathon in 1:21:29
Nicholas Mooney, from Brisbane, won the 10km Sunday run
Half-marathon podium … from left, Abene Ayuya, from Hervey Bay, 2nd; Soul Love, from Wondai, 1st; and Brenton Zwarts, from Sandgate, 3rd
Women’s half-marathon … Amanda Klein, Pittsworth, 1st;  Angie Knight, Maryborough, 3rd (2nd was Emily Rummery, Kingaroy)
Sunshine Coast runner Dean Hose shared the glory of finishing the half-marathon with his son Byron, who is almost two
Ashby Pearson, 11, from Coolum, helped out on the microphone as an impromptu announcer at the finishing line
Margaret Wedge, from Kingaroy, was enthusiastically rattling a cow bell to encourage the runners up the last slope home
Trevor McClure, back row, at right, accompanied a couple of carloads of runners from Bundaberg to take part in the festival … it was a homecoming for Trevor who started school at Tingoora; he said the rail trail course was “brilliant” and also praised the 10km run through McEuen Forest
Regular Wondai parkrunner Claire Kapernick, from Cloyna, is congratulated as she heads to the finishing line in the half-marathon
Wondai woodworker Bill Kearney, from Cloyna, was one of the team who made the unique finishing medallions
Volunteer Alwyn Reed, from Kingaroy, escorted the marathon entrants for the full length of the race
The sign read “Beware Lions At Work” … and they were! Members of the Wondai Lions Club were manning the barbecue on Sunday for the running festival

* * *

Saturday Events

Saturday was the Wondai Country Festival’s main day for most people – or, at least, for those sensible enough not to want to run 42km!

Large crowds descended on Coronation Park to enjoy a bumper market day backed up by a non-stop entertainment program that ran from 7:00am through to late afternoon.

The monthly Wondai Markets – which usually attract about 40 stallholders – ballooned to more than 100 stalls for the day.

And the Percy Iszlaub Sound Shell played host to multiple acts ranging from the Stolzenberg Brothers and the Free2Dance Hip Hop Crew, to the Kingaroy State High School Vocal Group, the Proston Line Dancers and St John’s Lutheran School’s whip-cracking team.

Blue Gum Farm TV also turned up with their new show “Koala Rumba”, which delighted their young fans.

There was also an animal nursery to visit as well as some very friendly dingoes from the Durong Dingo Sanctuary.

A late afternoon family concert by Phil and Chris Coad at the nearby Wondai Diggers Club also drew a strong roll-up.

The Wondai Art Gallery, Wondai Timber Industry Museum and Wondai Woodcrafters were open to visitors as CROW-FM hosted tours through their studios across the road.

Caravanners packed out the nearby free short-stay parking area and the Wondai Showgrounds.

“We tried to involve the whole community in this festival, and I think we did that this year,” festival president Elaine Madill said.

“We looked at what we had available and tried to get as many people involved as we could.

“It’s really marvellous what you can do when everyone pulls together to be part of the same thing.

“I think everyone did Wondai proud, and next year we plan to make it bigger and better again.”

Entertainers Cilla Slack and Eden Smith, from Blue Gum Farm TV, with some of the stars of their latest production ‘Koala Rumba’
The start of the 2km community fun run along the South Burnett Rail Trail on Saturday morning
Murray Thomas, from Thomas’ Picks at Murgon, was one of the more than 100 stallholders at the expanded Wondai Markets
Volunteers Helen Kratzmann, from Wooroonden, and Melissa Barnett, from Haly Creek, were looking after the registrations for Sunday’s runs
Wooden coasters, bowls and cheeseboards – stamped with the Country Festival logo – were on sale at Wondai Art Gallery as souvenirs
Bob Baldwin, from the Murgon Local Ambulance Committee, brought along a display of CPR dummies for people to try out
“Dingo” Simon Stretton, from the Durong Dingo Sanctuary, with two Alpine dingoes, Zemma and Zahra
The Stepping Stones,  ie. Sue Bradley and Geoff Grevell, were one of the many local acts performing in the Percy Iszlaub Sound Shell in Coronation Park
Trevor Dyer, Russell Stitt and Debbie Douglas travelled from Maryborough for the festival … the trio spent part of Saturday morning in front of the stage enjoying the free entertainment
Wondai’s Free2Dance Hip Hop Crew put on a series of dancing displays
Amy Jochheim, 8, and her brother Cooper, 12, enjoyed meeting some kittens in the petting zoo
Free2Dance performer Peter Bhaktavatsalam, from Wondai, did an energetic hip hop display
Members of the Wondai Town & District Band waited patiently for their turn on stage in the day’s jam-packed entertainment program
Susan Dowideit-Reiger conducted the Kingaroy State High School Vocal Group
Cilla Slack and Eden Smith, from Blue Gum Farm TV, delighted the youngsters with their latest show, ‘Koala Rumba’


One Response to "Wondai Sets A Cracking Pace"

  1. Wondai Community take a bow. What an outstanding weekend of activities to showcase your Country Festival and the South Burnett Region.

    Congratulations to Ros Heit on your leadership and the organising team for your passion and determination to make this event such a great success. No doubt Wondai’s renowned community spirit will see this event continue to grow from strength to strength into the future.

    The open day at 90.7 CROW FM in conjunction with the Wondai Country Festival on Saturday was well supported with nearly 100 people taking the opportunity to tour the studio and see how the Community Radio Of Wondai operates at its best to support our region.

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