A LAST-MINUTE decision to enter yesterday’s Cane2Coral proved to be a wise move for Gold Coast-based runner Dale Warrander.
The semi-professional marathon specialist set Bargara Road on fire, running home to a comfortable victory in the 15km main race with a time of 45min 47sec.
Warrander, 36, surged away to an early lead from the Quay Street starting line and maintained it for the duration of the race despite the best efforts of runner-up Jay Twist who finished four minutes behind at 49min 36sec.
“I was happy with my performance, but it was hard work and I was made to really put in,” he said.
The balmy Sunday morning pushed Warrander to his limits in the final 3km of the race as exhaustion and fatigue set in.
“There were some challenging inclines and the weather was a fair bit hotter than what I’m used to,” he said.
“The final stretch was tough, but I knew I had a fair lead and I kept going for it.”
Warrander, 36, registered for the race on Friday eager to get in some race time before his campaign to the 10km Bridge To Brisbane in four weeks.
“It’s quite a different race, with different challenges but I think it will be excellent preparation,” he said.
“Cane2Coral’s a longer course so I’m hoping my performance will mean I’ll have plenty in the tank in Brisbane.”
The former Olympian who represented New Zealand in the 2004 Athens Games said he would pencil the event into his calendar next year if organisers decide to make it an annual event.
“It’s a fantastic Queensland event and it’s given me the chance to have a real hit-out to see where my fitness and my stamina is at,” he said.
“For a first-time event it was pretty incredible how smoothly it ran.”
More than 2000 people participated in the 15km and 8km runs.
Brisbane-based runner Helen Stanton won the women’s race with a time of 57.21 seconds.
She finished ahead of Rachel Johnson with 1hr 3min 52 seconds with third-placed Belinda Copper coming in with a time of 1hr 3min and 58 seconds.
Kepnock State High teacher Rob Gardner was the first Bundaberg entrant to cross the finish line, placing eighth with a time of 53min 18sec.