Colourful volunteer and enthusiastic bell-ringer Liz Nicholson with Sonia McMahon from CROW-FM … the local radio station sponsored the Dash For Cash on Saturday morning

June 27, 2024

The seventh annual Wondai Country Running Festival attracted a hardy bunch of keen athletes at the weekend eager to test themselves along the South Burnett Rail Trail.

Organising committee member Cr Ros Heit said the number of pre-race registrations was the highest yet, but the cold weather on the actual weekend did cause a few last-minute no-shows.

However, the organising committee was happy with the weekend festival, and there had also been lots of positive comments on Facebook.

The running festival consists of shorter, fun events on Saturday morning; longer trail runs through McEuen Forest on Saturday afternoon; and four big events on Sunday, including a full-length marathon.

The cold weather on Sunday morning created a new hazard for the runners taking part in the marathon … a frosty and slippery Tingoora Railway bridge, but everyone negotiated the track safely.

And the conditions must not have been too bad, as the first runner home in the half-marathon, Stephen Butcher, set a new race record.

As many of the visiting competitors camped nearby, the organising committee also organised a dinner on Saturday night at Wondai Memorial Hall, which was also well-attended.

Mayor Kathy Duff with a relative, Isabel Lindley, who travelled from Gayndah to be a part of the event
Working hard to keep everything running smoothly were volunteers Pam McAllister, Wendy Krosch and Cr Ros Heit
Synchronise your watches (or rather, your phones) … timing for the Dash For Cash was done the old-fashioned way
Mayor Kathy Duff, right, judged the Best Dressed competition … from left, Nicole Craig, Bronwyn Lindon (with Sadie), and Tracy Leiper, all from Brisbane; and Kay Sherlock, from Ipswich
Santa, aka Matt McCauley, hits the line in the CROW-FM Dash For Cash
Liz Nicholson photobombs the Dash For Cash men’s first and second placegetters, Mr Incredible, aka Cameron Dew, and Santa!
South Burnett CTC sponsored the All Abilities Race as well as donating the all-important water to keep the runners hydrated … from left, Hazel Kelly, John Box, Evalyn Thompson and Sharon Beggs
Mayor Kathy Duff could not resist the Pink Flamingos from Brisbane … Diane Coloretti, left, and Jenny Arnold, right

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* * *

Dash For Cash

The CROW-FM Dash For Cash was the first of the Wondai Country Running Festival events to hit the Rail Trail after the regular Saturday morning parkrun.

There were three age categories – with prizes for males and females – run on a 1km course from the bridge over the creek.

The prize money was presented to the winners by Sonia McMahon and Lee McGregor from CROW-FM.

Alex Farmilo was first across the line in the Under 18s CROW-FM Dash For Cash
Under 18s podium … Andrew Dew, 4th; Lenny Dew, 2nd; Alex Farmilo, 1st; and Chris Dew, 3rd
18-40 Women … Equal 1st Logan Le Roux and
Melissa Ballin
18-40 Men … Matt McCauley, 2nd; Cameron Dew, 1st; Lukas Rodman, 3rd; and Caleb Ballin, 4th
Over 40s Men … Owen Sinitsky, 4th;  Scott Perry, 2nd; Robert Cordle, 1st; and Craig Kapernick, 3rd
Over 40s Women … Christine Ferdinands, 2nd; Heidi Grodecki, 1st; and Jenny Arnold and Diane Coloretti, equal 3rd


  • Under 18s Men – 1. Alex Farmilo 3:08; 2. Lenny Dew 3:17; 3. Chris Dew 3:55
  • 18-40 Men – 1. Cameron Dew (Mr Incredible) 3:39; 2. Matt McCauley (Santa) 3:44; 3. Lukas Rodman 3:46
  • 18-40 Women – Equal 1. Melissa Ballin and Logan Le Roux 6:41
  • Over 40 Men – 1. Robert Cordle 3:03; 2. Scott Perry 3:20; Craig Kapernick 3:47
  • Over 40 Women – 1. Heidi Grodecki 4:11; 2. Christine Ferdinands 5:15; Equal 3. Jenny Arnold and Diane Coloretti (the pink flamingos) 8:13

* * *

Family Fun Run

Competitors gather at the starting line for the Hansen Kitchens Family Fun Run

The 2km Hansen Kitchens Family Fun Run on Saturday morning is always one of the most popular events at the Wondai Country Running Festival.

This race is put on especially for South Burnett fun runners as well as the family members of the more serious runners who will be taking part in the longer events on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.

The weather was perfect this year … not too cold by starting time but definitely not too warm, either.

The Family Fun Run is untimed but that doesn’t really matter as all the competitors win a prize!

The youngest runners always get away with a burst in the Family Fun Run … and it’s usually the young ones who hit the finishing line first, too

* * *

All Abilities

The start of the All Abilities race … Wondai Art Gallery’s Elaine Madill (in wheelchair) is always a keen competitor in this popular annual event

Everyone is a winner in the South Burnett CTC All Abilities race, which is also very popular on Saturday morning.  

Competitors and carers tackle the 1km course along the South Burnett Rail Trail.

Wheelchairs are welcome, but no motorised vehicles are allowed.

Cowbells and clapping greeted each of the runners as they passed across the finishing line.

This event is also untimed but all the entrants receive a wooden Wondai Country Running Festival medallion.

* * *

Forest Trail Runs

The start of the 21km Forest Trail Run on Saturday afternoon (Photo: Past Tense Photography)

The competitions became harder on Saturday afternoon with the running of the two Bega PCA Forest Trail Runs through the nearby McEuen State Forest.

The across-country races were held across two distances: 11.1km and 21.1km.

11.1km Results:

  • Men – 1. Clive Gross 43:22; 2. Matt McNamara 46:14; 3. Stephen O’Connor 47:25
  • Women – 1. Brigitte Grofski 54:49; 2. Kealey Harland 54:55; 3. Trineane Patch 55:19

21.1km Results:

  • Men – 1. Robert Cordle 1:31:04; 2. Jeremy Patch 1:32:38; 3. Shane Price 1:35:05
  • Women – 1. Romy Wolstencroft 1:45:48; 2. Courtney Gardiner 1:49:27; 3. Veronika Jordaan 2:11:55

* * *

Sunday Events

The start of the Marathon on a frosty Sunday morning … and yes, the man with a pram pushed it the whole way!

Sunday’s events tested the most serious runners who had registered for the weekend’s races.

It was an early – and icy – start for the Ken Mills Marathon, Bendigo Bank Half-Marathon, Parkside 10km run and, a new event for this year, the Bowy Active 5km run.

All these races, which had separate starting times, were run along the Rail Trail.

Thomas Carroll (from sponsors Ken Mills Toyota) with the men’s Marathon podium … James Maxwell, 2nd; Tobias Chappill, 1st; and Simon Phillips, 3rd
Thomas Carroll (Ken Mills Toyota) with the women’s Marathon podium … Veronika Jordaan, 2nd; Tracy Hills, 1st; and  Jo Collins, 3rd
Ross Leggett (from sponsors Bendigo Bank) with the men’s Half-Marathon podium: Avishek Singh, 2nd; Stephen Butcher, 1st in record time; and Robert Cordle, 3rd
Ross Leggett (Bendigo Bank) with the women’s Half-Marathon podium: Fiona Pobar, 2nd; Heidi Grodecki, 1st; and Deb Thorley, 3rd

Marathon Results:

  • Men – 1. Tobias Chappill 2:55:41; 2. James Maxwell 3:01:38; 3. Simon Phillips 3:16:45
  • Women – 1. Tracy Hills 4:08:39; 2. Veronika Jordaan 4:15:12; 3. Jo Collins 4:37:41

Half-Marathon Results:

  • Men – 1. Stephen Butcher 1:16:14 record; 2. Avishek Singh 1:16:27; 3. Robert Cordle 1:16:31 
  • Women – 1. Heidi Grodecki 1:39:32; 2. Fiona Pobar 1:43:44; 3. Deb Thorley 1:48:32

10km Results:

  • Men – 1. Matt McNamara 37:32; 2. Paul Carter 37:48; 3. Scott Perry 40:27
  • Women – 1. Lisa Dineen 41:27; 2. Kealey Harland 44:04; 3. Nicole Mulholland 44:42

5km Results:

  • Men – 1. Zac Farmilo 17:23; 2. Noah Gunders 18:05; 3. Alex Farmilo 18:14
  • Women – 1. Hannah O’Connor 22:20; 2. Chloe Turner 22:56; 3. Chelsea O’Connor 24:28

[Photos by Past Tense Photography]

* * *

Saturday Night’s Dinner

On Saturday night, competitors, friends and race sponsors gathered at Wondai Town Hall to enjoy a buffet dinner prepared by JC Catering.

The dinner numbers were capped at 170, which was enough to comfortably  fill the hall on a chilly evening.

The fact that is a “country” running festival was emphasised by the pumpkins on every table …

Live entertainment was provided by Kingaroy’s Steve Peterson.

A special treat was mulled wine, served in souvenir glasses to take home and keep.

Selina Carey and Scott Cossens, from Manyung
Tim Drescher and Trudy Jacobsen, from the Lockyer Valley
Bronwyn Holzheimer, from Hervey Bay, with Mindy and Kayden Hussey, from Kingaroy
Steve Peterson was providing the musical accompaniment to the evening’s dining
Wondai Memorial Hall was filled with tables for the running festival dinner
Craig and Claire Kapernick, from Cloyna, are part of the organising team for the event …
… as are Cr Ros Heit and Liz and Sean Nicolson
Volunteers Winston and Margaret Burrows were ticking off names at the door … Winston is also a keen volunteer at the Wondai parkrun and notched up his 200th parkrun event on Saturday morning


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