Margie Williams, from Kingaroy, was making sure the Condamine bells were kept ringing at the finishing line to urge the runners home

July 1, 2022

The Wondai Country Running Festival is continuing to grow with more than 500 registered runners hitting the South Burnett Rail Trail on Saturday and Sunday.

Race director Ros Heit said the organising committee was “super happy” with the event, the weather was perfect and more than 45kg of bananas (and 14 boxes of mandarines) were handed out!

Saturday morning started with the regular Wondai parkrun, but numbers were boosted by the runners in town for the Festival, with about 175 people taking part.

The Festival itself started a bit later on Saturday morning with a frantic “Dash For Cash” which saw runners doing a super-quick one kilometre dash along the trail for the chance to win a cash prize.

Ros said the Family Fun Run, also held on Saturday, was much bigger than last year, with about 100 runners taking part along the 2km course.

Also well-supported was the All-Abilities Race which includes wheelchairs, carers and competitors of all ages and sizes.

This race is always popular with spectators who gather at the finishing line to cheer the runners home.

One of the competitors, Wendy and her pet bantam “Chicken”, proved a hit throughout the weekend, with “Chicken” posing for photos with runners, in McEuen Forest, and at the markets.

On Saturday afternoon, the running became more serious with the two Forest Runs which started on the Rail Trail and then wound their way through McEuen Forestry.

Ros said the city visitors really enjoy this challenge as they rarely get the challenge to run competitively on bush tracks.

In between the morning and afternoon events on Saturday, visitors had the opportunity to browse through the adjacent Wondai Country Festival Markets, organised by the Wondai Regional Art Gallery in Coronation Park.

There was live music as well as food and market stalls.

A bonus attraction this year were helicopter rides which could be booked from a site beside the Rail Trail and proved very popular with visitors and local residents alike.

(“Chicken” even hitched a lift … check out the photos on the Life Of Chicken Facebook page.)

Most of the visiting runners stayed overnight to take part in the longer events on Sunday morning with 106 campervans and caravans booked into the Wondai Showgrounds.

The festival committee organised a special dinner in Wondai Memorial Hall on Saturday night to feed the visitors and their friends.

Ros said more than 200 people packed into the hall to enjoy a hot dinner, mulled wine and live music.

On Sunday morning, the South Burnett Mountain Bike Club prepared breakfast for the runners, offering bacon and egg burgers and pumpkin soup.

“There were more than 300 people on the trail on Sunday morning,” Ros said.

Six drinks stations were manned along the marathon course by local groups who received donations from the committee for their efforts.

Ros said the festival was getting bigger every year and was providing a boost for Wondai.

“A number of local businesses stayed open longer on Saturday and some opened again on Sunday morning,” she said.

Ros said the aim of the event was to provide the city visitors with a whole weekend of country hospitality.

She said the feedback so far had been extremely positive, with 98 per cent rating the festival as “excellent” or “very good”; and 99 per cent saying they would return again next year.

Profits from the Wondai Country Running Festival are ploughed back into the local community.

Organising committee member Liz Nicholson with race director Ros Heit
Wondai resident Winston Burrows was the very enthusiastic course announcer for the two days
Angie Dingle and John Box, from South Burnett CTC … CTC sponsored the All-Abilities Race
The helicopter rides which took off from beside the Rail Trail proved very popular with locals and visitors

* * *

Hansen Kitchens Family Fun Run

There were a record number of entries in Saturday’s 2km Family Fun Run along the Rail Trail.

Everyone who entered received a prize of some description.

This was a fun social event, so there was no timing but organisers said the number of entries was much larger than last year, with about 100 runners taking part.

The youngsters are always the first away in the Family Fun Run (and the first back home)

* * *

CROW-FM Dash For Cash

The 1km Dash For Cash had prizes ranging from $1 through to $10 for participants.

Lincoln Fields, 12, from Windera, was first across the line in the Junior Dash For Cash
Liam Wilson, from Logan, was the first home in the Adult category
Melissa Ballin, from Nanango, was second home in the Adult category (first Female)
Cameron Dew, from Narangba, came home 3rd in the Adult category (second Male) despite running the 1km with his blow-up alien friend
Craig Kapernick, from Cloyna, was first home in the Masters category
Junior Male placegetters … Sean Andersen (5th), Lenny Dew (2nd), Lincoln Fields (1st), Alex Farmilo (3rd) and Fraser Hampton (4th)

Junior Female placegetters …. Daisy-May Robertson (3rd), Hannah O’Connor (1st) and Amelia Jorgensen (2nd)

Adult Female placegetters … Lucy English (2nd), Melissa Ballin (1st) and everyone else was “chicken”
Adult Male placegetters … Cameron Dew (2nd with alien) and Liam Wilson (1st)
Masters Male placegetters …. Neil Burton-Shaw (4th), Darrin Kefford (2nd), Craig Kapernick (1st), John Purcell (3rd) and Jason Ford (5th)
Three members of the organising committee hit the line almost simultaneously in the Masters category … Masters Female placegetters Ros Heit (1st), Liz Nicholson (2nd) and Michelle Hansen (3rd)

CROW-FM Dash For Cash Results:

  • Adult Male – Liam Wilson (1), Cameron Dew (2)
  • Adult Female – Melissa Ballin (1), Lucy English (2)
  • Masters Male – Craig Kapernick (1), Darrin Kefford (2), John Purcell (3)
  • Masters Female – Ros Heit (1), Liz Nicholson (2), Michelle Hansen (3)
  • Junior Male – Lincoln Fields (1), Lenny Dew (2), Alex Farmilo (3)
  • Junior Female – Hannah O’Connor (1), Amelia Jorgensen (2), Daisy-May Robertson (3)

* * *

All-Abilities Race 

The 1km South Burnett CTC All-Abilities Race is not timed but there was a large number of entries!

First home across the line was Abbie Laherty, 14, from Kingaroy.

Wondai Country Festival committee member Elaine Madill, from the Wondai Art Gallery, was helped across the line by Carmel McKeering, from Memerambi
Abbie Laherty, 14, from Kingaroy, ran away from the pack to be first across the line in the All-Abilities Race

* * *

PCA Forest Trail Runs

The 11.1 km and 21.1km Saturday afternoon Forest Trail runs were cross-country, starting on the Rail Trail and looping through the adjacent McEuen Forest.

[Photos: Nadine Gray]

Men’s Forest Run 21.1km fastest times … Jethro Stone (2nd) and James Laird (1st)

Women’s Forest Run 21.1km fastest times … Lee Cleary (2nd), Deb Nicholl (1st), Heidi Storer (3rd)

PCA Forest Trail 21.1km results:

  • Adult Male – James Laird (1), Jethro Stone (2), Robert Harrison (3)
  • Adult Female – Lee Cleary (1), Margret Goodman (2), Amanda Hodgkinson (3)
  • Masters Male – Sean Harper (1), Robert Piers (2),  Lewin Cleary (3)
  • Masters Female – Deb Nicholl (1), Heidi Storer (2),  Jo Doyle (3)

Men’s Forest Run 11.1km fastest times … Stephen O’Connor (2nd), Jed Price (1st) and David Wallace (3rd)

Women’s Forest Run 11.1km … Charlotte Weinrauch (2nd), Paige O’Connor (1st) and Elsie Norbury (3rd)

PCA Forest Trail 11.1km results:

  • Adult Male – Jed Price (1), David Wallace (2), Thomas Court (3)
  • Adult Female – Charlotte Weinrauch (1), Alison Mollenhauer (2), Christina Bam (3)
  • Masters Male – Stephen O’Connor (1), Stephen Jendra (2), Grant Harland (3)
  • Masters Female – Elsie Norbury (1), Tracey Thornhill (2), Deb Thorley (3)
  • Junior Male – Eddie Pearson (1), Billy Harland (2), Evan Wallace (3)
  • Junior Female – Paige O’Connor (1), Kealey Harland (2), Asta James (3)

* * *

Sunday Results

The footraces took on a more serious turn on Sunday, with competitors vying for spots in three much longer races along the Rail Trail.

[Photos: Nadine Gray]

Men’s Marathon fastest times … Aaron Patterson (2nd), Simon Phillips (1st) and Kelvin Marshall (3rd)
Women’s Marathon fastest times … Amanda Astill (2nd), Melissa Ballin (1st) and Nikki Davison (3rd)

Ken Mills Marathon results

  • Adult Male – Simon Phillips (1), Cameron Dew (2), David Griffin (3)
  • Adult Female – Melissa Ballin (1), Amanda Astill (2), Tam Hales (3)
  • Masters Male – Aaron Patterson (1), Kelvin Marshall (2), Paul Feasey (3)
  • Masters Female – Nicky Davison (1), Jayne Phillips (2), Kristine Byrne (3)
Men’s Half-Marathon fastest times  … Richard Koeth (2nd), Emmanuel Vergara (1st) and Adrian Polidano (3rd)
Women’s Half-Marathon fastest times … Deb Nicholl (2nd), Janet Smith (1st) and Petra Galea (3rd)

21.1km Bendigo Bank Half-Marathon results:

  • Adult Male – Emmanuel Vergara (1), Carl Gadsby (2), Liam Wilson (3)
  • Adult Female – Janet Smith (1), Petra Galea (2), Margret Goodman (3)
  • Masters Male – Richard Koech (1), Adrian Polidano (2), Darren Farmilo (3)
  • Masters Female – Deb Nicholl (1), Wendy Dighton (2), Kelly Gurski (3)
  • Junior Male – Zac Farmilo (1), Alex Farmilo (2)
  • Junior Female – Kate Gadischke (1), Charli Whitbread (2)

10km Rail Trail Run Men’s fastest times … Paul Carter (2nd), Jed Price (1st) and John Pearson (3rd)

10km Rail Trail Run Women’s fastest times. .. Tracey Thornhill (2nd), Charlotte Weinrauch (1st), Lee Cleary (3rd)

10km Plenty Foods Rail Trail Run results:

  • Adult Male – Jed Price (1), Paul Carter (2), Zac Frampton (3)
  • Adult Female – Charlotte Weinrauch (1), Lee Cleary (2), Carla Whitehead (3)
  • Masters Male – John Pearson (1), Laimon Eglentals (2), Craig Robinson (3)
  • Masters Female – Tracey Thornhill (1), Tracy Hills (2), Deb Thorley (3)
  • Junior Male – Billy Harland (1), Jamie Searle (2), Lenny Dew (3)
  • Junior Female – Ashby Pearson (1), Kealey Harland (2), Amelia Jorgenson (3)

* * *

Saturday Markets

The Wondai Country Festival markets, organised by the Wondai Regional Art Gallery, provided an opportunity for visitors to take a break between running events.

The stalls in Coronation offered food, drinks and everything for handcrafted goods to secondhand tools.

There was even live entertainment on stage in the Percy Iszlaub soundshell.

The largest number of stall seen yet at a Wondai Country Festival graces the grounds of Coronation Park
Richard Whitworth, from Richard’s Country Kitchen at Kumbia, had his range of jams and relishes for sale
The Wondai Town & District Band were one of the groups which provided a musical backdrop to the markets
South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto dropped in to the markets to officially open the Wondai Country Festival on Saturday … he’s pictured with Cr Kathy Duff, organising committee members Ros Heit and Elaine Madill, and Cr Danita Potter
The Kumbia QCWA choir, with musical accompaniment by Graham Mitchell, sang some ditties, including one especially penned for the Wondai Country Festival

* * *

Saturday Night Dinner

Saturday night’s dinner was quickly booked out the Wondai Memorial Hall with about 200 diners filling the space.

The hot meal was prepared by JC Catering, and the live music provided by Stepping Stones, ie. popular local duo Sue Bradley and Geoff Grevell.

But the highlight of the night was definitely the mulled wine … warm red wine mixed with honey and Wondai’s own secret mix of spices!

Eight slow cookers prepared the wine on Saturday afternoon so it would be just right for the night.

Served in special etched souvenir glasses, the mulled wine was the perfect drink for a cold winter’s night after a busy day of running.

Many of the diners were staying at Wondai Showgrounds so organisers put on a free bus to bring them down to the hall and take them back safely home afterwards.

The special Saturday night dinner organised for runners, their families and supporters (plus local residents) was shifted to the Wondai Memorial Hall this year, which provided more space for the diners (Photo: Sue Bradley)

* * *

The Wondai Running Festival was sponsored by the Wondai Regional Art Gallery, Ken Mills Toyota, Bendigo Bank, Plenty Foods, Bega (PCA), Astills Electrical, Hobbs and Associates, Parkside, CROW-FM, South Burnett CTC, Hansen Kitchens and Glenrock Hay. Plus local wineries: Kingsley Grove, Moffatdale Ridge, Clovely Estate and Nuova Scuola.

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[UPDATED with correction]


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