Sydney distance running duo Jeff Hunt (Randwick-Botany Harriers) and Eliza Stewart (UTS Northern Suburbs) continued their dominance of NSW distance running this season with emphatic victories today at the NSW Cross Country Championships at Willandra, near Nowra.
On a course which many describe as the best cross country course in Australia, hundreds of athletes put their fitness to the test over the course, which contains its infamous hill, the summit of which marks the halfway mark of the 4km loop course. The look on athletes' faces as they braved it told the story - within a couple of strides their complexion turned from one of determination, to doubt and then to despair as they scaled the daunting climb.
But for the winners of today's events it seemed to pose little problem, as they left the rest of the field in their wake.
Hunt recorded a swift time of 39 minutes 18 seconds over the arduous 12 kilometre course, winning by almost 40 seconds from Glenn Guzzo (Sydney Striders) and Stephen Brown (Kembla Joggers).
For Hunt it was his first success on the course after being a perennial top six finisher over the last five seasons.
“I was pretty confident of the win today. Winning the NSW Road title in May gave me a big boost and training has been going very well,” said a delighted Hunt.
Stewart produced a dominant performance to retain her title, finishing over two minutes ahead of the rest of the field in the women’s 8km race. Stewart, who at only 20 years of age is developing into one of Australia’s best distance runners, completed the course in a time of 29 minutes 16 seconds.
Among some of the other highlights of the day was the dominant victory of Blue Mountains steeplechaser Hollie Emery in the U18 women's event, Morgan McDonald (Randwick-Botany Harriers) who captured the U12 title and then backed up to place second in the U14 race and a thrilling tussle between James Nipperess (St George) and Cameron Page (Gosford) in the U18 men's event, with Nipperess running under 19 minutes for the 6km course to defeat his younger rival.
The first two placegetters in todays event are automatic selections for the NSW team to the Australian Cross Country Championships should they decide to compete. The Australian titles will held in Perth in early September.
Full results will appear on the website in due course.
James Nipperess and Cameron Page in action in the U18 men's 6km