Great Ring Road Run for young athlete

THE entrants at events like the Ring Road Run have mixed levels of ability and experience - from the fitness fanatics who run every day to those who turn up on the day and give it a go.

That's one of the things that made it so special.

And the gulf between the wheelchair contenders in this year's race highlighted it more.

At one end, lining up for the 10km wheelchair race were two Paralympians, Rheed McCracken and Nathan Arkley, along with Australian Paratriathlete team member, Mark Urquhart.

At the other was Nathan Donaldson in his first road race, competing over 5km, and taking McCracken's title of the youngest wheelchair competitor at the Ring Road Run with him.

Nathan (12) - McCracken was 13 when he first entered the race - is new to the sport and in the race chair McCracken used at the 2012 London Paralympic games where he finished the course in 34 minutes.

Thanks to the support of McCracken and his father, Brad, along with Urquhart, Nathan said he enjoyed his first road race and there was a great reward waiting for him as he crossed the finish.

"It was a big relief to have it over and done with," Nathan said.

"But it made me happy to have people who I didn't know cheering me the finish."

Nathan was understandably proud of his achievements but took the time to thank McCracken for the use of his chair and the support the other wheelchair athletes gave him on the day.

The Ring Road Run will be last time Nathan will be in a race chair for a while. To help relieve the strain on his legs caused by cerebral palsy Nathan is having surgery Thursday to straighten one of his femurs, and he will be out of action for six weeks.

Nathan's dad, Paul, knows his son is about to go through a painful period soon.

He said watching the reception his son got when he finished took his mind off it.

"It made me quite emotional seeing all the people who don't know Nathan cheering him on at the finish," Mr Donaldson said.

"It was absolutely fantastic; and it was good to see how Rheed, Brad (McCracken) and Mark (Urquhart) supported Nathan."

Arkley won the 10km wheelchair race in 25:11 with McCracken second in 25:59.

Winners

Wheelchair 10k: Nathan Arkley

Men's 10k: Drew Williams

Women's 10k: Catherine Clohesy

Men's 5k: Grant Gwynne

Women's 5k: Margie Atthow

Boy's 2k: Josiah Ruthenberg

Girl's 2k: Baylee Holden



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