This year will see the 30th Anniversary of an iconic running event – the Toowoomba Road Runners King & Queen of the Range.
First conducted in 1982, the run commenced at Withcott and finished at the old Toowoomba Showground, with one lap of the main arena. In the early years, the run was dominated by Toowoomba running legend Albert Van der Wyk as the King of the Range and Jodie Curd as the Queen of the Range. In 1985 a young 15 year old novice from Toowong in Brisbane, Gordon Fletcher, came up and beat much older and more experienced runners, including Albert Van der Wyk and Peter Bourgaize, and in doing so, claimed a new record of 28 m 30s, 13 seconds ahead of Van der Wyk’s record of 28m 43s.
In 1986, the course changed and finished in Queen’s Park and it saw the arrival of a new star. This was the first year that Glenn Benecke won the event; the start of a dynasty as he would ultimately win on no less than13 occasions. This record stands today unchallenged and many believe will never be broken. A new Queen of the Range also emerged in Lynette Stern.
Fast track to1992 and the course changed yet again for the final time After ascending the range, runners now turn left into Tourist Drive and proceed along the top of the Range to Long St and then up to Picnic Point to finish at the water tower. This course is longer with an additional ascent to Picnic Point of 440 m and a total distance of 8.3km. Benecke was quick to swoop and claim a new course record of 32min 55secs and this has only been beaten once since, when he broke his own record in 1997, lowering the time to 32m43s (the current standing record).
Each year the Toowoomba Road Runners offer $100 to any runner who can break the record and they have yet to pay up! Lynette Stern was the inaugural winner of the new course but within a few years she had to give way to a new up and coming Queen, Janine Reid. Janine was the Queen for five years and holds the current course record of 38m10s however she does not hold the privilege of the most race victories. This honour belongs to the current Queen of the Range, Toowoomba’s Tressa Lindenberg, who has won the event a total of seven times, starting in 2002, with a personal best time of 40m43s. The closest challenge to Janine’s record came from Samantha Bretherick in 2003 with a time of 39m15s. Samantha, a Welsh cross country runner, loved nothing more than running hills in her native Wales.
Current King of the Range is Hintsa Mebrahtu, an engineering student at USQ who now lives in Brisbane. He is now rated in the top ten runners in Queensland over 10,000 metres and last year won the Twilight 10km in Brisbane and the Queensland Half-Marathon. The current Queen is none other than Tressa Lindenberg and she has a goal of winning the next three to make a neat 10 for her record book..
In discussing the history of the King & Queen of the Range the walkers must not be forgotten. Every year since its inception, a group of hardy walkers set off a half an hour before the runners to ascend the range. This is a non competitive event because the walking is not supervised. However, for the individual, it is just as much a challenge. Last year the Toowoomba Road Runners said goodbye to their oldest stalwart walker, Bill Horsfall. Bill died of cancer at 90 but up until age 88 he walked the range every year.
Submitted by Peter Rookas
Toowoomba Hospital Foundation
Ph. (07) 46166166
Fax. (07) 46166177