Almost 3000 people descended on the picturesque Maleny Golf Club on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland for the 2018 Australian Cross Country Championships.
The day was swamped with 28 races from all different age groups with competitors from across Australia. Claiming the spoils in the premier open events were Madeline Hills and Andy Buchanan.
Olympian Madeline Hills (VIC) lived up to her pre-race favouritism with a comfortable win over South Australian state champion Caitlin Adams 37:32 to 38:49, with NSW’s Lara Hamilton filling the final podium place with 39:23.
Hills from Melbourne agreed with most on the day that the course was very tough.
“Very very tough course, we heard it was going to be hilly and I don’t think there was anyone that turned up here today that wasn’t surprised and terrified,” Hills said.
“So yeah it was tough, I was counting down the kilometres.
“But I am very happy to have conquered that one.”
Victoria took out the Women’s team event, with Queensland in second and NSW in third.
In the men’s race, Victorian Andy Buchanan became the first athlete in 20 years to defended the title he won last year in Wollongong. He held off Riley Cocks (SA) 32:15 to 32:39, with Ed Goddard (NSW) third in a time of 32:48. Despite his win he said that the race didn’t go to plan.
“It’s incredible really, you don’t realise until a few days after when it really starts to sink in that you are the national champion,” Buchanan said.
“It was an interesting race though, it didn’t play out as I thought it would at all – I thought there would be a big pack through that first two or three kilometres.
“Because it was so hilly, I thought everyone would be a bit stand offish but Harry Summers, who is known to be a front runner, charged out and I went with him and didn’t let him get too far away but then I found my self in the lead and just kept on with it.
“To be an Australian Champion is something that can never be taken away from you and something that I have worked extremely hard for over the last few months,” Buchanan said.
In the teams event the South Australian men’s open team of Riley & Jacob Cocks, Adrian Potter and Daniel Canala created history with their first event win in the 72 year history of the event.
In a very tight battle they scored 28 points, ahead of NSW 30 and Victoria 31. Over the 72 years of the event, the closest they had come was silver on three occasions.
NSW and Victoria shared the honours in the open para events. Conducted over 3km, Kyle McIntosh (NSW) won the open men’s event in a time of 10:49, while in the women’s Georgia Powning led home a Victorian treble in 14:09.
In one of the most competitive events of the day Nikita Moore (QLD) was a surprise winner in the under-18 4km event. She held off two Youth Olympic Games-bound athletes Keely Small (ACT) and Jaylah Hancock – Cameron.
In 11th was European under-18 championships 800m silver medallist Sophie O’Sullivan (VIC) and in 13th defending champion Ruby White (ACT).
In the men’s under-20 8km race, Victorian Haftu Strintzos became the first athlete in 11 years to defend this title. He defeated Queenslander Chekole Getenet 26:42 to 27:04 minutes.
The day had kicked off at 9:00am with the boys and girls 11 Years events, run over 3km and won by Declan Warnes (QLD) and Fleur Cooper (NSW).
For all results from the day please go here: http://athletics.com.au/2018AustralianCrossCountryChampionships