A Mecca for distance runners in New South Wales, and maybe even all of Australia.
That’s what Andrew Baulch thinks the Optus NSW Regional Distance Running Championship (NSWRDRC) is on its way to becoming, after he announced a number of exciting changes to next year’s event.
After the inaugural event this year, which he described as “a wonderful success”, Baulch confirmed the 2018 edition has been expanded, in more ways than one.
Forbes Running Festival becomes to sixth to come on board, while the marathon and 10-kilometre races at each event will combine with the half-marathon to decide the 2018 championship.
“We now have six major festivals from this region, which will be a focus for running in NSW, Australia and we’re attracting runners from overseas as well. This is a really major competition and a major development for it,” Baulch, the NSWRDRC coordinator, said.
The Forbes leg will be the the fifth and penultimate event, fitting in between the Dubbo Stampede in August and the Carcoar Cup Running Festival in November.
“Looking at the timetable Forbes, in early October, fits in with our program really well and they were very keen, they came on board straight away,” Baulch said.
“To have a greater geographical span is good … Forbes is a great town to go to, a great place to stay, why wouldn’t you run?”
In terms of the changes to the championship format itself, in 2017 the major trophy was based just one the half-marathon at each event.
Next year, points from the 10km and marathon races will be included as well, the runners with the best cumulative pointscores across all six events will win in each category.
I’m not short on optimism and I can see this becoming the marquee event, the distance running hub for Australia.NSWRDRC coordinator Andrew Baulch
“What we’re after is the genuine distance running champion in each category, from opens [through to the age groups],” Baulch said.
“We want the overall champions, rather than the marathon, half-marathon and 10km champions alone. A runner could run in Orange, the first event, in the 10km event and earn points.
“That runner could then run the half-marathon in Bathurst, and earn points and so on. Those points will be accumulated at the end to decide the champions.
“Overall, all the events will expand in terms of numbers and I can see us expanding the prizemoney involved, there’s $8,000 at the moment and $1,000 in trophies, which is very good.
“I’m not short on optimism and I can see this becoming the marquee event, the distance running hub for Australia … starting in Orange in February.”
That Orange Running Festival is set for a couple of new changes as well, coordinator Stu Vidler explained.
“Every year we take on a different local charity, we’ve raised more than $100,000 over the years,” he enthused.
“This year we’ll be supporting LikeMind, a mental health charity, and we’re excited to be partnering with them this year.
“We’re also expecting at least the same number of competitors as last year, which was 1,750 … which ties in with the regional championship.
“We’re really looking forward to it all.”
The Orange Running Festival is the first leg of the NSWRDRC in February, before Bathurst in May, Mudgee and Dubbo in August, Forbes in October and Carcoar in December.