Bush run a winner

THE move from water events to a focus on running and cycling proved successful for the 26th annual Bridge to Bridge sporting carnival at Cohuna on Sunday.

Josh Kelly runs out of the forest on his way to the town bridge in the first Bridge to Bridge half marathon.

Josh Kelly runs out of the forest on his way to the town bridge in the first Bridge to Bridge half marathon.

The addition of half marathon and 12.5-kilometre trail runs from Daltons Bridge through Gunbower National Park and out of the bush to the Gunbower Creek bridge at the town was enthusiastically received. 

Less challenging fun runs for adults and children were also well supported.

The new attractions did not diminish the desire by competitors and organisers to raise as much money as possible to support kidney dialysis services at Cohuna District Hospital. 

Lake Boga resident, Josh Kelly took out the men's half marathon in a time of 1:31:37, followed by Andy Rogers and Paul Barton.

Mr Kelly said he was motivated to enter the race "to support the local community and support the hospital".

He found the course an adjustment from his normal running routine.

"I'm probably more of a road runner, so it was different to get out on the trails and on the dirt. It was a nice course, nice and scenic."

As well as bushland, he saw abundant wildlife, particularly kangaroos, but also a fox and many birds.

Mr Kelly has graduated from the 6.5 kilometre Bridge to Bridge run, just a couple of years back.

His training regimen is now generally five days per week and he usually totals around 75 kilometres in that period.

Coach, Brady Threlfall of Echuca guides Mr Kelly's training and his efforts are appreciated by the athlete who intends to run a full marathon in the not too distant future.

Mr Kelly appreciates those who made the Bridge to Bridge events possible.

"Congratulations to the committee and well done on their new structure," he said.

This year's event is the first Bridge to Bridge to come under the auspices of the Cohuna and District Progress Association, which abandoned the previous feature 8-kilometre swim and paddling events.

Amanda Grant won the women's half marathon in a time of 1:45:34, with Alison Wright and Helen Thomson the next finishers.

A big field tackled the 6.5-kilometre fun run, with Leah Lacy and Jackson Neville the open category winners.

In the feature cycling races, held over a distance of 50 kilometres, Aaron McMaster and Claire Goodman led the way.

The riders in the 25-kilometre bike race followed the same course but did just one lap, as opposed to two.

There was plenty for the kids, with a 6.5-kilometre junior cycle and the 'mini-miler'.

The latter event wasn't timed, but you wouldn't have known it with the cracking pace the youngsters set from the start as they headed out to complete a mile.

Harper Kneebone and Lilly Hope were the winners of the junior cycle race.

Event co-ordinator, Kirstin Nicholson estimated the overall number of entrants across all events at around 400, given entries by event eve were already up to 370.

In addition to funds raised from entry fees, many people also donated money to the hospital cause, and the total raised is yet to be finalised.

Mrs Nicholson was delighted with how the day went.

"We had an awesome team who ran everything and we all just got in there and did what we had to do and we wanted to make it a brilliant event that people would come back for and I think we've done that." 

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