9 Jul 2018
Waratah Series Short Course: Paige powers to win
The third annual combined Waratah Series Short Course and Little Athletics NSW Cross Country Championships were a major success with hundreds of athletes streaming into the event, which was more like a carnival and fun family outing, than an athletics meet. There was an enjoyable atmosphere, with a gradient overlooking the course covered with family picnic rugs, while after the younger athletes raced they were entertained running through an inflatable obstacle course.
The day had commenced with the under-7s running over 800m and concluded with the 75+ years masters event. The program also featured a popular fun run in the middle of the day.
Incorporated into the program was the 39th NSW women’s open short course championship which was dominated by the Sydney University club, with four of the top-five athletes to cross the line.
From the gun, there was a group of five piloting the filed. The pack which included the Campbell twins Paige and Holly (SYU), Melinda Witchard (SYU), Belinda Martin (ILL) and fastest at the cross country relays Lara Hamilton (SYU), snaked around the course. After the first 4km lap, they had broken up with Paige leading from Holly, with Lara third and Belinda Martin hot on her heels, as they battled a strong head wind through the start/finish area. But at about the five-kilometre mark, as they turned they picked up a strong tail winded.
“I just kept it pretty easy on the first lap and then tried to capitalise on that really big wind and setup a gap on the field and brought it home,” recalled Paige who now had moved into a very comfortable lead. Also employing the same philosophy was Belinda Martin who had swing into second place with Holly third and Lara fourth.
“I started off leading and I knew with the girls beside me, anytime they could kick, and they did. Paige got quite a lot of distance on me,” Lara Hamilton said. But her good consistent season kicked in over the next mile or so as she clawed her way back into second with just the last kilometre to run.
“I was able to make up some ground and keep my tempo at the end, moving up two positions from fourth,” she said.
They maintained those places to the finish clocking the following times: Paige Campbell (26:16), Lara Hamilton (26:58), Belinda Martin (27:04), Holly Campbell (27:15). While Beth Croft moving into fifth with 27:52.
Paige, who just missed selection for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games looks in terrific form and should have a strong summer on the track. She was confident coming into the event.
“I’m coming off a very solid block of training. I thought I could win but was not sure if Chloe would compete.”
Local athlete and recent winner of the NSW Cross Country Championships, Chloe Tighe, was unable to take her place on the start line as she had pulled up sore from the win two weeks earlier.
For second placed Lara Hamilton, who is studying classical voice at the Sydney Conservatorium, it continued her strong season. “It was a good hit out and good prep for the national cross in Queensland.”
A significant part of the success of the event can be attributed to the outstanding venue, managed and administered by the Kembla Joggers club. Led by Neil Barnett and his team, a substantial amount of time is spent year round maintaining the venue.
View the full results.
David Tarbotton for Athletics NSW
Image: Left to right - Paige Campbell (93), Belinda Martin (blue), Lara Hamilton (225), Melinda Witchard (692),Holly Campbell (92) (courtesy of David Tarbotton)