Launceston Ten

Mrs Armitage (Launceston) Mr President,

Today I am going to speak about an event which has become one of the most successful running events in Australia. The Launceston Ten was first held in 2007. It's been the State 10 kilometre road championship since inception, it was the Australian Road Championship from 2010-2012 and it's been the Oceania 10 kilometre championship since 2014. It's also Australia's richest road race and has been voted Athletics Australia's “Best Fun Run in Australia”.

This year's event, held as part of the Tasmanian Running Festival eleven days ago, was once again, a massive success. 1600 runners braved a chilly start to take part in the two, five and 10 kilometre events. Ballarat-based Sudanese-born runner, Duer Yoa won the Launceston Ten men's race and the Oceania 10-kilometre championship. Olympian Eloise Wellings from New South Wales won the Launceston Ten women's race, just ahead of fellow Olympian Jess Trengrove and also the Oceania 10 kilometre championship. Tasmanians did well once again, including Launceston's Josh Harris who received a top ten placing in the men's 10 kilometre and Launceston's Kate Pedley, who was the first Tasmanian woman to finish in the women's 10 kilometre race, placing fifth overall in that event.

The Launceston Ten consistently attracts Australia's best athletes, including many Olympians. Other big names to take part over the years include Steve Monaghetti, Lisa Jane Weightman, Michael Shelley, Lee Troop, Kerryn McCann and, my niece, Donna MacFarlane.

The way the Launceston Ten came about is an interesting story. In 2006 a steering committee approached Rob Gillard and his brother, Kim, about doing a fun run. The Gillard brothers said “Let's do it properly” and suggested a 16 month strategy to plan a running event that would truly put Launceston on the map. Rob and Kim set about selecting a course, finding sponsors and securing council support for a running event that would go on the Australian Running Calendar; the latter being a strategic move to guarantee a high quality of field. Rob and Kim Gillard were well-qualified to organise such a major event; Kim had represented Australia in the World Cross Country Championship and Rob had been a leading distance runner, representing Tasmania and Australia as a teenager.

Rob says they were expecting about 700 to 800 people to enter in 2007. But they ended up getting between 1300 and 1400 competitors. That year Mark Tucker won the men's event in a time of 28 minutes and 37 seconds and the women's category was won by Anna Thompson in a time of 32 minutes and 56 seconds.

The event has developed into something that is unashamedly for locals but has also become a highly sought after competition for elite athletes from Australia as well as countries including New Zealand and Kenya. Rob Gillard says when they established the Launceston Ten they wanted to give the average local runner the opportunity to line up in a field containing the very best runners in the country. And it's an event that has been truly embraced by Launceston.

An important part of the success is down to the way organisers connect elite runners with local children. The day before this year's event there was a new feature, a free Kid's Clinic, which was held at Scotch Oakburn College's Middle School Gymnasium. Local, national and international running stars offered running tips to children aged between five and ten and run activities and exercises designed to develop their understanding and skills. This was a joint effort by the Tasmanian Running Festival organisers, Scotch Oakburn College and Mark Connelley's EFM Health Clubs.

Rob Gillard singles his support team out for high praise. There are course marshals from community service clubs such as the Rotary Club of Central Launceston, the Launceston Sea Scouts run the water stations and pack all the water bottles and Rob's wife, Charmaine Chugg-Gillard, and a team of equally fabulous ladies take charge of registrations and distribution of race bibs. There's also the MC, Rick Fontyn and Jess Sattler provides marketing support. Rob estimates there's a support team of about 80 people.

Mr President, I sincerely thank Rob Gillard, Charmaine Chugg-Gillard and their team for the hard work they put into this wonderful event every year. I extend my very best wishes to all the competitors on the day. Thank you.

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