Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers Sunday, September 18th, 2011, will see the running of the 32nd Carnival Half Marathon. Sponsored by Marlene’s Studios and conducted by the Toowoomba Road Runners, the run is widely known as the ‘Ridge to Ridge’ for its unique route along the edge of the Great Divide and is sometimes described as ‘the Half Hilly’. For the less serious runner there will also be a 10km/5km Run/Walk, with proceeds from all events to aid the Toowoomba Hospital Foundation.
The history of the Half Marathon stretches back to 1979, the year the Toowoomba Road Runners started. Club members decided that Toowoomba needed a unique event at the time of the Carnival of Flowers so they purposely chose a very demanding hilly course to include the tourist route along the range top.
In those days, the race would begin at Webb Park and go around Prince Henry Heights along the range top, including “the big dipper” in Curtis Street and then up to Picnic Point and then continue along the range edge along Rowbotham Street up the Nelson Street hill and all the way down Ramsay Street to finish in East Creek Park opposite Queen’s Park.
Due to changes over the years, a new course was worked out using Middle Ridge Park as the start/finish of the event. The original concept of a hilly, challenging course was retained. The course now winds its way up to Picnic Point and then down and up Tobruk Drive followed by the original Collier Street, Rowbotham Street and up Nelson Street hill to Hume Street. The course then proceeds East on Spring Street to the Toowoomba Golf Course and finally west on Stenner Street, finishing with a lap of Middle Ridge Park.
Defending champions from 2010 are Ben MacCronan and Tressa Lindenberg.
Dennis Fitzgerald has four wins to his credit (1999, 2002, 2004, 2009) while the female race is dominated by Tressa Lindenberg with six wins (2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010). The female race record, however, is held by Welsh Cross Country runner, Samantha Bretherick with a time of 1:22:42. The highest number of competitors was in 1985 when over 300 runners participated. The first winner was the club president, Les Irvine, with a creditable 1:15. Les would later tragically die and a perpetual trophy for this race was named in his honour.
1986 saw the race record shattered by a visiting French Olympian, Alain Lazare, preparing for the 1988 Olympics. He ran an astounding 1:07:12 and when presented with his winner’s trophy, gave it to the youngest competitor in the race. His record has never been challenged and there is a cash incentive of $100 on offer for breaking the race record; however the money appears very safe in the coffers of the Toowoomba Road Runners.
To add to the program of running at Carnival of Flowers time, it was decided to have a 10 km run & a 5 km fun run /walk while the half marathon was being conducted. The Half Marathon gets underway at 7am, with the 10km/5km starting at 8am. One circuit around the block of Stenner/Hume/Spring/MacKenzie and back on to Stenner St for the 5km & two circuits for the 10km.. This concept is to increase the participation to include non serious runners and walkers for a community event to raise money for local charity.
Runners can enter online (www.trr.org.au) or on the day from 6.00am. Adults $25 Under 18 $15 for the half-marathon while Adults $10 Under 18 $5 for the 5km Fun Run/Walk. The Toowoomba Road Runners want as many people as possible to get involved and enjoy Toowoomba’s wonderful Spring Carnival weather, no matter what their level of training. These types of events are aimed at improving community health & fitness as well as developing a health lifestyle and supporting the local hospital.
For further information:
Toowoomba Hospital Foundation
Ph 4616 6166