About the Club
Wagga Wagga Road Runners club is a non-profit community group of families and individuals who engage in running and walking activities throughout the year. A major aim is to encourage runners and walkers of all abilities to enjoy exercising for fitness and health.
The weekly club runs provide an opportunity for the more serious runners to train for distance races including half marathons, marathons, ultras and trail running or to simply run for pleasure. The runs are timed and the distances measured so that individual performances can be monitored and improved.
The club meets each Saturday throughout the year, at a different location each month, at 1pm during the cooler months and 7:30am during the warmer months. There are two or three courses set for each run, a short run (3 to 5km), a long run (7 to 10km) and often a medium distance run (5 to 7 km). Times are recorded for each runner and the final run of each month is a handicap race.
Over the years, WWRR members have organised many runs, currently these include The Wagga Trail Marathon and the Hume and Hovell Ultra Marathon. There are often trips to trail runs both local and throughout NSW and Victoria, often in the Mountains, and a year bus trip to the Sydney City 2 Surf which many club members participate in each year.
The club holds annual Christmas parties and and other social functions so that runners, joggers and walkers from all walks of life get to know each other. In the Wagga region the club is like an extended family, welcoming new members, fare-welling departing ones that move on. Through the club many friendships are formed, some weddings and sadly a few funerals. The club has provided support at these funerals of our members and their family and friends.
At 1 pm on Saturday 3 August 1985, twenty-eight runners assembled at Elizabeth Ave in Forest Hill for the very first Wagga Wagga Road Runners event. A twenty-ninth runner, new to town, without directions, spent an hour driving around Forest Hill trying to find them. The initial committee who pooled some cash to buy a few basics to get the Club started consisted of Paul Johanson, Bruce Sanders (RAAF), Craig Clarke, Terry Kiss, John McMahon (RAAF) and John Ison (Army). Some of the first members of the club still participate in runs or walks and help with organisation. Peter Fitzpatrick is an outstanding example of an old-timer who still competes and serves as an inspiration for other runners. The armed services were a big part of the Club’s early days, contributing both members and even on-base locations for runs. Today, the Defence Forces still provide helpers for the organisation of the marathon and the Lake Run and Ride fun run.
Initially, runs were held at different locations every week. This created some confusion and half the crew would get lost. The runs were usually handicap races based on the previous week’s results even though it was run on a different course. This led to complaints from runners that their handicap was biased because the previous week’s course had been too hilly, too flat, too winding or too fast. Over summer, which is hot in Wagga, meeting at 6.30 pm on Tuesday nights was tried but that was tea time. In addition, Sunday mornings were tried but some runners had difficulty getting out of bed. It took more than three years to arrive at the current format of 1 pm on Saturdays. As a legacy from the past there are still runners meeting on Sunday mornings for a longer run up to 30 km if a marathon is coming up.
Some noted runners commenced their running careers as part of the WWRR family, starting as small children with the short run on Saturdays. The kids included Lachlan Chisholm (Australian 1500 m champion) and Brad Kahlefeldt (Commonwealth Games Gold in Triathlon and Australian representative in the Beijing Olympics). A number of NSW junior champions started at WWRR. It is pleasing to see a new generation of young runners showing the older runners their heels.
Club champions include Carmel Kahlefeldt (mother of Brad) who has completed over 30 marathons and has been ranked in the top ten female marathon runners in Australia. Peter Fitzpatrick continues to run marathons. He has completed 108 at last count including many of the tough 6ft Track ultra marathon, and he remains outstandingly competitive in his age category, the over 60s. Peter was placed 7th overall in the 2007 Deep Space Mountain Marathon and 6th in the same event in 2008; Peter emerged as a potential M60 world championship medallist in the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships in England held in April 2008.
Stalwarts of the club include Barry Walker who rarely misses a run and is always there to cook the BBQ at the end of the month. Bill Arthur has finished 16 Canberra Marathons and has run marathons on four continents and wishes to complete a marathon on at least two more continents. Graham Spokes has completed 12 Six Foot Track marathons and 60 marathons in Australia and overseas. Keith Collin has completed 28 marathons including 8 Six Foot Track ultra marathons; Don McIntyre has completed 26 marathons, includes 6 Six Foot Tracks. Paul Johanson has been very competitive and has completed 15 marathons over the years. Malcolm Allen has completed 13 marathons including 8 Six Foot Tracks. Many other WWRR have completed the Six Foot track ultra marathons over the years in some impressive times.
Tim ‘Tarzan’ Stevens is an example of the positive effects of Road Runners. When Big Tim came to Wagga a few years ago, with his young family in tow, believed his days of active sport were behind him, after a nasty injury. With the encouragement of his fellow runners Tim stepped up in 2009 to a half-marathon, then a marathon, and some triathlons, and then preparing for his first Ironman event.
Members of Road Runners have represented the club at marathons around Australia and the world, including the London, Boston, New York, Great Wall of China, Las Vegas, Auckland, Venice, South Africa (Comrades 89) and Kentucky marathons. The Comrades 89 km ultra marathon in South Africa has been run twice by former WWRR Scot Thompson. The first Comrades marathon was run in 1921, to commemorate the memory of war troops that marched the route with full military gear. WWRR have competed in Australia in the Six Foot Track ultra marathon, Canberra, the Canberra Bush marathon, Deep Space Mountain, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Coonabarabran, Fitzroy Falls, Townsville, Portland, Hobart and The Great Ocean Road marathons and half marathons. WWRR have attended the National Running Week at Thredbo, with some good times recorded in the run to the top of Mount Kosciusko in the Classic. These runners do not always figure in the top positions, but their efforts are appreciated by their fellow Road Runners. Club members organise an annual bus trip to the City to Surf in Sydney.
In recent years, many club members have been actively competing in trail running events with many trips to Bright and further afield for runs like the Sky Run, Two Bays, Bogong to Hotham, Glow Worm Marathon, Wonderland Run and Razorback Run.
The club has also been active in supporting and organising community runs in the local district, such as the Lake Run and Ride fun run in Wagga Wagga, the Junee to Wagga Wagga Marathon, various half marathons and now the Wagga Wagga Trail Marathon.