Traralgon Marathon History Australia’s Oldest Current Marathon

Traralgon Marathon History Australia’s Oldest Current Marathon

The Traralgon Marathon – Inaugural run 24 August in 1968.

The Traralgon Marathon is the oldest current marathon in Australia and was first run on 24 August in 1968. The race was an all-male affair and was won by Barry Sawyer in 2:26:53.  There were earlier marathons in Australia but none of them are still in existence.

Over the years the course has changed a number of times, but has been run in the current format of out and back to Toongabbie for the last 25 years.

The women’s Marathon began in 1978 and there have been 19 female individual winners.  There have been 31 individual male winners of the Traralgon Marathon including 2012 winner John Mackenzie who has dominated the event in recent years.

The event has had some well-known runners over the years including Famous Australian Boxer, Johnny Famechon, Ultra-marathon runner, Cliff Young and World Champion Distance Runner, Derek Clayton who still holds the race record of 2:13:39 in 1970.  Clayton apparently did the race as a warm up for the Mexico Olympics in October 1968 and was in a class of his own.  He broke the world record for the second occasion in 1969 at Antwerp in a time of 2:08:33 and it stood for almost 12 years afterward.


Page 37 — The Express, Wednesday June 4, 1969



In years to come any man will hold a special position of honour among athletes who can say, “I was one of the 14 who finished the 1969 Traralgon Marathon”.  I have never seen courage to match these men and boys.  Among officials and spectators there were few who were not moved by the great courage of those who finished and those who were compelled to withdraw when exhaustion and the penetrating cold left them unable to do more than shiver.  Here is the Honour roll;

IAN WHEELER (Sale) won in a time of 2 hours 27 minutes, 49 seconds.  Normally this would raise no eyebrows but it rates highly in Sunday’s arctic weather and gives weight to Ian’s claim to be Australia’s second ranked marathon runner – behind world champion Derek Clayton.  Ian ran himself right out and could scarcely walk five hours after the race finished.

GERRY VAN DER PLOEG (Neerim North) ran second in 2:40:08 showing great courage and strength.  This was his eighth marathon.

MARTIN THOMPSON of Traralgon Harriers ran a magnificently courageous race for third place with 2:43:17 in his first marathon.  Ian Wheeler says that this run shows great promise: I’ll go along with that.

MAX HOLMES (South Melbourne) 2:43:17 was the first runner from outside Gippsland to finish.  Max is a protégé and club-mate of JIM CRAWFORD who finished his 28th marathon in 2:45:30.

CHRIS COLLINS, 17-year-old Traralgon Harrier was the first junior and overall sixth in 2:48:33.  I wrote that this boy would become a champion after his first race, the 1966 Monash Relay.  It remains only to add that his next outstanding performance will probably be to set an Australian junior record at a distance between 20,000 and 10,000 metres.

Figure 17 John Poelsma 1969 Traralgon Marathon

Newborough’s John Poelsma was the veteran of the field at 64 and one of the 14 to finish the marathon.  He described Saturday’s marathon weather as shocking and said he couldn’t get warm at any stage of the race.  After trying to thaw out in a hot bath – which wasn’t too successful John donned some dry clothes and went off on another five mile run on Sunday.  He had conditioned himself for the gruelling 26 mile 385 yard race by running100 miles a week.  John who has been in Australia for 16 years was 16 stone before he took up running is now a trim 11½ stone.  Travelling by bus is out as he feels the atmosphere in buses is unhealthy with people smoking and coughing.  He runs to work at Yallourn each day from his home four mile away and the trip takes 25 minutes.  So as to put more miles on the speedo John takes a roundabout way home which is usually about 10 miles.


JOHN VISSER (St. Stephen’s Harriers) 2:57:45 John told me that the encouragement of Traralgon officials inspired him to keep going when he wanted to pull out.

JOE FLEISCHER 2:57:48, another 17-year -old Traralgon Harrier was second junior to finish.  Joe did not fancy himself as a marathon runner was only talked into entering after a couple of good training runs about a month ago.

BOB GERARD of Mentone 3:06:28, I met Bob last year at the 21 mile mark in the Tyabb marathon.  He had stormed through the first twenty in one hour fifty, five and then the sky fell on him.  He was dazed and staggering but we got him going again with hot tea and glucose tablets.  We put Garry Henry out of the car to jog beside Bob while we picked up some more tea.  Just before we got back to him he accepted a lift.  Later he expressed bitter regret that that he had not finished at Tyabb and he was deter-mined to prove himself.

NORMAN McLEISH, High School teacher of St. Albans 3:27:00.  Norm ran the last four miles 21 minutes slower than the runner ahead of him and gives credit to Traralgon officials for the fact that he managed to finish.

GEOFF WATT of Warragul 3:48:00.  You have never seen anything like this bloke. The last eight miles took him the same time as the first eighteen.  When I saw him with three to go he was doddering along like a sick centenarian.  While I helped him into a dry tracksuit he managed to say to me, “I’m shot now, Barry” and then shambled off at a pathetically slow trot. But he finished the job to make it 42 marathons without ever dropping out.

LEIGH THOMPSON 3:54:15 ran a personal best in this, his fourth marathon to be the third junior, fourth Traralgon Harrier and second Thompson to finish. This kid has guts.

JOHN POELSMA 3:58:00, the magnificent veteran from Newborough. John is about 64.  He won the over 40 section of the race and gave Gippsland a score of seven runners in the 14 who finished.

GEORGE WILSON (4:38:00) took up running last year at age fifty-six.  He started at an 8 minute mile rate and slowed to 15 minute pace as the cold took a grip on him but he kept running all the way and never doubted his ability to finish.  He had to be assisted up the steps at the finish.


Juniors Withdrawn

Traralgon Harriers’ six under-15 runners were all ordered to withdraw at points between the six and 3 mile marks.  We are in the game to show kids what they can achieve – not to kill, them.  All six have completed the course in training and they will all do well in the V.M.C. marathon at Tyabb in six weeks’ time if the weather is good.  There is a condition known to marathon runners as “cold shock”.

This may or may not be a correct medical term but it conveys the idea of a person so cold that he can scarcely speak or move and he may be unable to think clearly or recognise friends.  This was the condition of many who finished and most who failed to finish on Saturday.  It took most of the victims half an hour or more in a hot bath or shower before they stopped shivering.  No one in his right mind would criticise any runner tor dropping out of the marathon.   Imagine running 26 and a quarter miles in a refrigerator with the fan on! Women and girls of Traralgon Women’s A.A.C. and Traralgon Harriers Social Committee, parents and friends and non-competing Harriers made a team of over 60 supporters who staffed feeding and timekeeping stations and cheerfully endured almost as much discomfort as the runners.  John Bermingham was one of the cold shock victims and when he was ordered out at 21½ miles he was unable to speak or to recognise friends who assisted him.  There may be runners with as much courage as this boy.  There is no runner with more.  There were thirty-four starters; the same number as in last year’s Traralgon Marathon and the finishers were 14 as against 18 last year.  About 20 more runners would have started if the weather had been fine and it seems likely that the Traralgon marathon will attract the largest field of any marathon in Australia next year.


Top Management

It says something for the quality of the work put into preparing and staging the race that the day was a resounding success despite the foul weather.  Visiting runners were unanimous in declaring the race the toughest and the best managed marathon in which they had competed. Traralgon Town Tennis Club made their club-rooms available as headquarters for the race and their generosity was a key factor in the success of the day.

The Victorian Amateur Walkers Club brought 20 walkers from Melbourne for a senior 10-mile, junior 5-mile and women’s 2-mile races.  Senior race was won by Bob Gardiner from Robin Wood, with Ken Bolton taking the handicap prize. Greg Carter won the junior event and Kay Pitt-man the women’s race. V.A.W.C. propose to repeat the visit next year in the hope that, if the weather is fine, they may attract entries from local senior, junior and school-boy walkers.  Next Sunday, fifty girls from Melbourne clubs will compete in races from Traralgon Racecourse over 800, 1500 and 3,000 metres.  Men will run 8 miles with a 2.2 miler for juniors.

There will be a meeting every Sunday during winter at Traralgon racecourse.  The program is designed to meet the requirements of competitors but races may be added, altered or deleted from the program on the day if a demand is expressed for a change.  Handicap races and a social get-together after the race over a cup of tea in heated clubrooms are some of the features which have made the Traralgon winter program one of the most popular in country Victoria.


Compared with Comrades Marathon

In South Africa, every young sportsman worth his salt has at least one run in the Comrades Marathon. For the fellows from sports other than running, time is not important but finishing is.

Traralgon’s course is the standard 26 miles 385 yards – about half as far as the Durban – Pietermaritzburg.  It would be pleasing to see our local footballers, basketballers having a run in future Traralgon marathons.  The 3 or 4 months necessary preparation would only improve their general fitness and endurance in their chosen sports and the completion of a run over the marathon distance gives a feeling of achievement that makes the training seem worthwhile.  A pleasing aspect of Saturday’s race was the hospitality shown to runners and officials by people living on the marathon course.  A lady in Argyle Street invited the girls at the 25 mile feeding station to warm-up and dry out at her lounge-room fire.  Mr. Mike Jordan’s Glengarry shop provided a safety pin for one runner’s shorts and a change room for a couple of young lads who were ordered out of the race at 7½ miles.

One official did a strip near the half-way mark, giving one runner his singlet, another runner his shirt and a third his jumper before going home for more clothes.  They must have been lucky garments because the 6 runners who received the officials garments all were among the 14 who finished. Richard Jeffery was obliged to bail out at the 21-mile mark, unable to speak and shaking like a pneumatic drill.  Richard runs his daily 12 miles without wearing a singlet, but Saturday’s cold penetrated his singlet to such extent that he took some hours to recover.  He was most disappointed that he could not finish the race.  My tip is that he will make amends at Tyabb on July 26.


Page 1 — The Journal, Thursday June 4, 1970

Marathon champion to race here

AUSTRALIAN marathon champion and currently the fastest marathon runner in the world, Derek Clayton, will be in Traralgon on Saturday for the annual Traralgon Marathon.  To mark the occasion, The Journal today presents a four page feature on the marathon, including notes on the runners and a map of the course to guide spectators.

Figure 18 Letter from Derek Clayton relating to his invite to run the 1970 Traralgon Marathon


Figure 19 Return letter from Barry G Thompson acknowledging Derek Clayton intended to run the 1970 Traralgon Marathon


The Journal, Thursday June 4, 1970 – Page 14


RICHARD JEFFERY, 34, is a successful Traralgon businessman, married with three children, and a popular member of Traralgon Harriers.  Richard started running for fitness 9 years ago.  He began with comparatively short runs of 3 miles and also acted a boundary umpire at weekends.  Since first starting his morning runs he has gradually increased his mileage and now regularly covers 12 miles each morning. Rain, hail or shine he is a familiar figure to the early risers of Traralgon, padding over his morning constitutional clad only in shorts and running shoes. In Richards’ short competitive athletics career (2 years) he has run in five marathons. In his first year of marathon running he was placed fourth in the Victorian Country Marathon Championship over a particularly gruelling course.

He followed this up with a personal best of 2 hours 44 min. 40 sec. for tenth place in the 1968 Victorian Open Marathon Championship.  He has stepped up his training over recent weeks and is now running 100 miles per week in preparation for the Traralgon Marathon.  An indication that he is nearing peak fitness can be seen by his recent runs of 55 min. 11 sec. for 10 miles and 85 min. dead for 15 miles.  Both these races were over tough, hilly terrain and point to a possible 2 hr. 30 min. marathon time.  On this time Richard will line up as one of the more favoured local runners and shock many of the fancied visitors.

JOHN BERMINGHAM, 18, started his athletic career with Traralgon Harriers 18 months ago and has since rocketed into the spotlight of Victorian athletics with top class performances for distances ranging from 1 to 15 miles. In, the 1969-70 track season John was placed third in the Victorian All Schools Open mile with the time of 4 min. 22 sec.  He concluded the track season with times of 14 min. 53 sec. for 3 miles and 32 min. 12 sec. for 6 miles.  John was bitterly disappointed after retiring from last year’s Traralgon Marathon and is definitely out to amend his disappointment in this year’s race.  He should do this in no mean manner if his recent time of 79 min. 50 sec. for 15 miles is any indication.  John is running over 100 miles per week in training and should dip under the 2 hour 30 minute mark comfortably — a great finale as a junior athlete.

GARRY HENRY, who has just turned 15, is 5 ft. high and 5 stone 12, yet the diminutive Traralgon Harrier shocked Victorian athletic officials in 1968 when he lined up for the start of the Victorian Open Marathon Championship.  It is history that he went on to run 20th in 3 hours 10 min. giving a grin and wave to speculative officials at the finish.  His feats in endurance, running have drawn praise and admiration from overseas journalists.  At the age of 12 he ran 5 min 6 sec. for the mile and 59:43 for 10 miles.  The following track season he clocked 16:39 for 3 miles —a record that will stand for many years.  He is a Victorian Schoolboy Cross Country Champion and has run in three marathons.  Garry recently clocked 85 min. 40 sec. for 15 miles— possibly another world’s best for his age.  It will not shock local officials who realise his potential to see him stride easily across the line around 2 hours 45 minutes.  He will be wearing the all black colours of Traralgon Harriers and race number 10.

MARTIN THOMPSON, a second year physical education student and foundation member of Traralgon Harriers is tackling his fourth marathon.  Martin ran strongly to be placed third in last year’s marathon with the time of 2 hours 43 min., an outstanding first up marathon performance considering the weather. In similar, tough conditions he ran 2 hours 2 min. in the Victorian 20 miles King of the Mountain Championship at Arthur’s Seat on the Mornington Peninsula.  Essentially a road runner, he managed to win the Traralgon 3 mile track championship and clocked 32 min. 51 sec. for 10,000 metres during the 1969-70 track season.  However his form has been spasmodic due to injuries and he is training hard in an effort to reach peak fitness.  Martin is at present training 160 miles per week and has turned in some good runs over 30 miles.  His recent time of 87-03 for 15 miles over a rugged course is a sign that he will be fit for the marathon.  If the going is tough he will figure in the finish.

LEN RUMBLE, 15, (Traralgon Harriers) has already run one marathon, at Tyabb last year in the VMC Marathon championship.  He ran well to finish in 3 hr. 12 min. 15 sec. and placed 4th in the Victorian Schoolboys’ Cross-Country Championship at Coburg.  Len showed promise in the 1968 local cross country championships winning several titles.  He is now fully recovered from a leg injury, which caused some annoyance and a considerable lay-off last winter.  Len recently ran 15 miles in 94 minutes and should have little trouble in finishing.

CHRIS COLLINS, 18, a foundation member of Traralgon Harriers, is a top junior distance runner.  This will be his fourth marathon and possibly his fastest.  Chris has starred in Gippsland Athletics since the age of 14 especially in the road and cross-country seasons.  Chris has plenty of courage as witnessed by his performance of finishing a cross-country in 1967 with a broken leg.  He managed to struggle through last year’s blizzard to clock 2 hours 48 min. — a creditable performance in anyone’s book.  He shares the honours of having completed both the 1968 and 1969 Traralgon Marathons. Chris has plenty of experience in distance running and will be untroubled to finish.

LEIGH THOMPSON, 19, is embarking on his 8th marathon.  He is no speedster but can be relied upon to finish.  Over the past 2 years he has competed in races over almost every distance run in Victoria, from 100 yd. to 26.2 miles.  He is an extremely versatile performer having gained Latrobe Valley medals in both track and field events.  His time of 3 hr. 28 min. in last year’s Country Marathon at Ballarat is his best time for the distance.  This will be Leigh’s third Traralgon Marathon and regardless of the conditions he will carry on the Traralgon Harrier tradition and greet the judges at the finish.

JOHN TURPIN, a foundation member of the Traralgon Harriers, is running his first marathon.  John, a smooth-striding stylist has built up a reputation as a half-miler in the past four track seasons.  John appears to be following the example of New Zealand’s world champion half miler, Peter Snell, who ran a 2 hr. 43 marathon while in full training for the shorter distance.  John should have little trouble in finishing and adding to the tally of local runners.  He is 20.

ANDREJ DESPOT, a comparative newcomer to athletics, Andrej joined Traralgon Harriers in 1969 and capped off a brilliant first track season with the Wimmera sub-junior 1500 metres championship and record of 4 mm. 32 sec. Andrej has clocked 2 min. 11 sec. for the 880 and 15 min. 50 sec. for the 3 mile at the age of 14. Andrej’s startling performances during the road season are the product of many miles of training and there is no doubt that he is well prepared for his first marathon at the age of 15.

Figure 20 John Bermingham, Ian Wheeler and Richard Jeffery

Top Traralgon prospects in Saturday’s Marathon to Toongabbie and back, John Bermingham, 18, Ian Wheeler and Richard Jeffery train together in Kay Street this week.  Wheeler is likely to be second favourite for the race, second only to Derek Clayton; the world’s fastest over 26 miles.


Not so long ago, the marathon was peopled primarily by older runners who had apparently outlived their usefulness in the shorter and faster track events, if indeed they were ever fast enough to hold their own at all.  The days of having enough physical resources to plod through 26 miles 385 yards and take a high placing are gone.  The image and need now is not any more for the old, the plodder, or the not-so-fast.  It is for stamina and lots of it, plenty of determination, loads of guts, and a ton of speed.

Australian Marathon “Top Ten”

Table 5 1970 Australian Marathon Top Ten Times

2:8:33.6 Derek Clayton Antwerp
2:16:41.4 John Farrington Hobart 25.5.68
2:19:06 Rod McKinney Fukuoka 1966
2:20:23 Ian Wheeler Hobart 25.5.68
2:20:26.8 Ron Clarke Tokyo 21.10.64
2:20:44.6 Tony Cook Ballarat 21.5.66
2:21:59 Neil Ryan Tyabb 26.7.69
2:22:12 Keith Ollerenshaw Botany 4.8.56
2:22:15 Dave Power Perth 29.11.62
2:22:18 Fred Howe Reservoir 24.7.65

A 28 year-old West German mother of two, Frau Ann Pede, ran 3 hr. 7 min. 26.2 sec. over a marathon course, lost 4½ lbs. during the race and had a pulse rate of 162 at the finish slowing down to 90 after five minutes.

In 1968 a 13 year-old Canadian girl ran 3 hr. 15 min. for a marathon to shock the athletic world.


That extra 385 yards

The first race held over the standard marathon distance of 26 miles 385 yards was at the 1908 Olympics in London.  The British Olympic Council decided to start the race at the Royal Residence in Windsor and finish it at Shepherd’s Bush Stadium, a distance of 26 miles.  It was thought desirable to finish the marathon under the Royal Box.  This added an extra 385 yards to the distance.  Hence we have the modern marathon distance of 26 miles 385 yards.  This distance has been standard for all Olympic Marathons since 1924. Next to the Olympic Marathon the most coveted is the Boston Marathon held annually in Boston USA.  It was first held in 1897 and now over 1000 runners try themselves on the slightly down-hill course each year. The Polytechnic Marathon held annually in Chiswick, London is also world-famous.  It has been held every year since the 1908 London Olympics. Of other famous marathon type races the South African Comrades Marathon stands out as a true test of any man’s stamina.  One year it is held over a course from Durban to Pietermaritzburg; a distance of 54 miles and a climb of 6000 ft.  The next year it is held downhill.  Only recently the classical marathon was revived in Greece.  It is run over the same course that Pheidippides originally covered.  This race from the plain of Marathon to Athens is held every two years.  Inspired by the example of the young Greek athlete many runners make the pilgrimage to Athens just to compete in this famous race.


The Journal, Thursday June 4, 1970 – Page 15

Top stars in this marathon

The 1970 Traralgon Marathon promises to better any marathon in Australia and hours of planning and preparation have been put into accomplishing this.  Nearly 50 volunteers will man feeding and timing stations, provide mobile escort, progress radio reports and afternoon tea.  The course for the 1970 Traralgon Marathon will be the same as last year’s marathon.  This course has been described by Ian Wheeler and Neil Ryan (marathon specialists) as being very flat and fast.  Both agree that the next Australian record will be set on the course which starts in Franklin Street., Traralgon, and proceeds to Toongabbie via Glengarry, and back to finish in Kay Street in front of the Olympic Swimming Pool.  The total rise and fall on the course is 100 feet.

Figure 21 1970 Traralgon Marathon Course

With the entry of world marathon ace Derek Clayton, organisers are assured of a respectable time.  Clayton is taking the run purely as a training jaunt in preparation for the Commonwealth Games Marathon to be held in Edinburgh four weeks later.  Apart from Clayton other top ranked Australians and International runners — Ian Wheeler, Rod McKinney, Tom Kelly and Fred Howe — will be running.  There is still a possibility that Australia’s second fastest marathon runner and Olympic representative John Farrington may make the trip from Sydney to compete.  Runners will receive their times at 1, 3, 5, 10, 13, 15, 20, 25 miles and the finish.  Refreshment points will be located at three mile intervals from the seven mile post onwards.  The race will start at 1:30 p.m. and attractive trophies will be presented to placegetters and memento certificates to all finishers.  Provided the weather is fine, spectators can be assured of a world class marathon race.  In 1956 thousands of people lined the streets of Melbourne to witness the Olympic marathon.  In 1970 the Traralgon Marathon promises to be run at least five minutes faster than the Olympic marathon in Melbourne.

Marathon mouthfuls

“I was going like a dream for five miles and then I folded …no reserves.  At 18½ miles I couldn’t go a step further.  If only I could retract that decision, I should have walked …anything rather than drop out.” Ron Hill, after the International Marathon at Belgrade 1958.  “I still think that it is a bloody silly event.  I only tried it as a last ditch stand to get an Olympic vest.  All I want to do now is lie down in a deep bath of hot water.” Basil Heatly after the Tokyo Marathon 1965. “A feeling of tremendous mechanical efficiency”.

DEREK CLAYTON   Born November 17, 1942, 6’2” tall, weight 160 lbs.

Figure 22 Derek Clayton

AUSTRALIAN champion, Derek Clayton, first started running in 1961 at the age of 18, but did not start serious training until he emigrated from Ireland to Australia in 1963.  He has run a total of ten marathons, winning seven.  Until he produced the 2:09:36.4 at the Fukuoka International Marathon he refused to believe he was a good marathon runner.  “I always thought I was too big for marathon running” he said. “I wanted to be a world champion three and six miler.” In 1969 Clayton broke the legendary figures of 2 hr. 10 min. for the second time with a record shattering run of 2:8:33.6.  This time represents a staggering average of 4 min. 54 sec. a mile for the 26 miles 385 yards.  Clayton’s rise to marathon fame has not come easily.  He averages about 140 miles per week most of which is at a continuous, fast, nerve-splitting pace.  Over the last four years Clayton has emerged as the fastest marathon runner of all time despite three major operations for leg injuries.  Clayton’s comments on the marathon are: “It’s a long race, and you have plenty of time to enjoy it. It seems a shame to train for a mile race, and then find it’s all over in four minutes or so.  “In a marathon you can revel in it for two solid hours. I enjoy the suffering which is everywhere in a marathon.  I love pain.  The pain … that’s what running is all about.  “You wait for the pain to come, and it always does.  Your legs get weary and it becomes a challenge.  Pain is saying “Stop! Stop!” and I say, “That’s what you think!

You’re not going to stop me, mate!”  “People think I’m odd when I answer this way.  I only think of one thing, and that’s winning.  It takes up all my time.  “I think about the guys behind me.  I like to think ‘the harder you run, Derek, ‘the harder you are going to make it for the others.’  “Make them suffer, boy, make them suffer!”  I say to myself.  I get a kick out of thinking they are going through hell behind me.  “You look around and see the agony in the faces behind you.  You say ‘I’m feeling tired, but how must they feel, trying to catch up.’  The marathon is a ruthless race, and to win it a runner must be ruthless.  If he feels no pain at the end, he knows he has I failed to get the best out of his body.”  In the Traralgon Marathon, Clayton will not be out to crack his unofficial world record time.  His main aim is to test his fitness prior to running in the Commonwealth Games, four weeks later.

This three paper feature for Saturday’s Traralgon Marathon has been compiled and prepared by Martin Thompson.

Ancient Greeks started it …

Gasping out; “Rejoice, we conquer” as joyfully as his tongue can utter the words a poor tired youth drops lifeless into the arms of the Athenians who have hurried out of their city to hear his, tidings.  Thus ended the great victory of the Greeks over Darius the Mede, master of Asia in 490 BC.  Darius with his hordes landed on Greek soil with the aim of taking Athens first.  A small group of Athenian soldiers met the army of Darius at the plain of Marathon.  The Greeks defeated the Persians and then called upon Pheidippides (a great athlete of the time) to take the news to the Capital.  Throwing down his shield he swiftly ran 150 miles to Athens in two days and died as he delivered his message.  When the Olympic Games were revived in 1896 at Athens it was decided that a race should be held in honour of the ancient Greek’s sacrifice.

The Journal, Thursday June 4, 1970 – Page 16

Runners to watch

IAN WHEELER, top local prospect, is possibly the most versatile top class athlete in Australia.  While on a tour of Scandinavia in 1964 he reduced a number of scorching track performances including a 3 min. 42.8 sec. 1500 metres — the metric equivalent of a sub-four minute mile.  He also set Finnish all comers records for 2000 metres 5 min. 10.4 sec. and clocked 8 min. 10.8 sec. for 3000 metres.  In 1967 Ian won the South Australian Marathon Championship in the course record time of 2 hr. 27 min. 34 sec.  He went on to represent South Australia in the Australian Marathon and Olympic selection trial in Hobart clocking his best time for the distance — 2 hr. 20 min. 23 sec. to gain third placing.  Later in the same year Ian won the Victorian Marathon Club’s 10 mile championship and took second place in their marathon with a time of 2 hr. 24 min. Last year he won the Traralgon Marathon with a time of 2 hours 27 min. 49 sec. beating his nearest rival by approximately 12 minutes.  Although not a world class time the effort was most meritorious considering the wintry conditions and consequently Ian was selected to represent Australia at the Toronto Exhibition Marathon in Canada.  With only six weeks of solid training he raced over the marathon in a fast time to take fifth place in a strong field of international athletes.  In the 1970 Traralgon Road Races he has clocked fastest time in his two starts.  Ian is currently running 110 miles per week and should, line up as number two favourite, second only to Clayton — fastest marathoner in the world.

ROD McKINNEY (Sandringham AAC, ex NSW) will line up as one of the fancied runners in this year’s marathon, being a well-seasoned marathoner with many outstanding performances to his credit.  His best time of 2 hr. 19 min. 06 sec. was set in the 1966 International Fukuoka Marathon where he “sprinted” to the half way mark in 66 minutes.  In the same year Rod “spread eagled” the field in the Australian title to win in 2 hr. 20 min. 50 and took out the NSW Marathon Championship with a time of 2 hr. 23 min. 29 sec.  He has since added a string of sub. 2:30 marathons to his triumphs and a brilliant win in the Victorian Marathon Club’s 1970 — 25000 metres is an indication that he is in top condition.

RAY SOLOMON, a member of the strong distance running club, Richmond Harriers, in 1967 clocked an amazing 2 hr. 25 min. 53 sec. to become Australia’s best junior over the marathon.  Last year Ray ran 2 hr. 29 min. 10 sec. for the VMC Marathon.  This year Ray has put in some top class performances on the road and should go close to clocking a personal best in the Traralgon Marathon.  He runs 100 mile per week in training.

COLIN EATON (Oakleigh AAC) this will be Colin’s second start at Traralgon.  He clocked 2 hr. 37 min. 35 sec. for second place over the tough 1968 marathon course. Colin’s best time for the marathon is 2 hr. 29 min. 53 sec.  In 1969 he came third in the Victorian King of the Mountain Championship over 20 miles with a time of 1 hr. 54 min.  He is an experienced distance runner with many marathons to his credit.

FRANK McCAFFERY, 50, is a Canadian-Irish-Australian who hails from New South Wales where he runs with Western Suburbs AAC.  Frank spent four years as a P.O.W. in Germany during the war.  He has plenty of distance running experience having competed in USA, Gt. Britain, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and all Australian states.  In 1968 he was placed eleventh in the Amsterdam International marathon, with a time of 2 hr. 50 min. in a field of 148. Frank’s best time as a veteran (over 40) is 2 hr. 39 min. which he did in the 1966 Australian Championship to take 15th place.  This year he clocked 1 hr. 17 min. 31 sec. at Cowra in a half marathon and will be using the Traralgon Marathon as a part of his preparation for the USA Masters Marathon which is held in San Diego on July 5.

MIKE HUBBERT (Richmond Harriers) has competed in marathons in NSW, Tasmania and Victoria.  He was placed 22nd in the Australian Marathon last year and has a personal best of 2 hr. 44 min. 57 sec. set in the 1967 VMC Marathon.  A personal best time would be a fitting exit from the local athletic scene for Mike as he is setting off on an overseas tour several days after the marathon.  Mike runs 100 miles a week in training.

GERRY VAN DER PLOEG (Ringwood AAC) has plenty of stamina and strength and he proved this with second place in last year’s Traralgon Marathon with a time of 2 hr. 40 min. 08 sec.  Gerry has plenty of marathon running experience and is training hard for this year’s race.

TOM KELLY, 39, migrated to Australia from Tipperary, Ireland and joined Box Hill AAC.  Last year he clocked 2:26, 2:27 and 2:28 in marathons to become one of Victoria’s most consistent topliners.  His run of 2 hr. 28 min. 46 sec. took first place in the open section of the Country Marathon at Ballarat last year

Figure 23 Gerry Van Der Ploeg, Tom Kelly, Fred Howe and John Visser

(Second in 1969)

(No. 23)


(St. Stephens Harriers)












The Journal, Thursday June 4, 1970 – Page 17

Big field for 3rd Marathon

FRED HOWE, 39 (Williamstown AAC) has been among the top Victorian distance runners for six years. In 1965 he ran his best time of 2 hr. 22 min. 18 sec.  In 1967 he ran another startling time of 2 tors. 24 min. 13 sec. He has represented England as a marathoner.

GEORGE WILSON, 57 (St. Stephen’s Harriers) took up running two years ago.  Last year he completed every marathon conducted in Victoria and reduced his best time to under 4 hours.  His first marathon was last year at Traralgon when he won the admiration of everyone by finishing in 4 hr. 38 min. despite the continued rain, hail and wind.  At the finish he had to wade across the Traralgon Creek bridge in Franklin St which had flooded.  During the summer season George, has not eased up and may surprise many with his improved form.

JIMMY CRAWFORD has run over 30 marathons and has finished both Traralgon Marathons with 3rd place in 1968 and 5th place in 1969.  He has international experience and was placed 4th in the Victorian marathon in 1968 with a time of 2 hr. 34 min. 09 sec.  Last year he ran 6th in the state title with a time of 2 hr. 31 min. 35 sec.  Jimmy, hospitalised for some weeks recently will be running this year’s marathon to finish!

MAX HOLMES (South Melbourne AAC) finished fast in the arduous conditions of last year’s marathon to take 4th place with the time of 2 hr. 44 min, 23 sec. and beat club mate Jim Crawford by a minute.

JOHN VISSER (St. Stephens Harriers) has a best time of 2 hr. 37 min. for the marathon.  Last year he finished the Traralgon Marathon in 2 hr. 57 minutes.


Other starters include:

JOHN KNEEN (Sandringham AAC) previous best 2 hr. 30 min.

HANS TILLER (Glenhuntly AAC) first marathon.

  1. A. JONES, 44 (Chelsea AAC) best time 3 hr. 15 min. 18 sec.

ROLAND WEBB, 34 (Frankston AAC) first marathon.

JOHN MACDONNELL, former Traralgon primary school teacher having his first start in the marathon.

JOHN MORRIS (University AAC) best time 2 hr. 42 min. 17 sec. Sixth place in the Country Marathon at Ballarat in 1969. Retired at the 20 mile mark (1 hr. 59 min. 58 sec.) in the 1969 Vic. Championship.

NEIL GRAY, a keen athlete tackling a marathon in his first winter season.

DAVE CRAIG (Box Hill AAC) Migrated recently from England where he clocked 3 hr. 11 min. in a marathon.

KEVIN CUMMINS (Brighton) Ran his first marathon at Tyabb last year in 3 hours 4 minutes 04 sec.

JIM BEISTY (Glenhuntly AAC) Retired from the 1969 Traralgon Marathon at the 16 mile mark.  Jim will be back to make amends for last year’s run.

ED BAXTER (Croydon AAC) Ran 2 hr. 56 min. 19 sec. in the VMC Marathon last year.  Ed put up a great battle with the elements last year in the Traralgon Marathon, running 22 miles before calling it a day.  Like Jim Beisty he is back to compete the course.

NOMAN LOWE, 17, runs with Beaumaris AAC and has had some success on the track with a 4:45 mile to his credit.  This will be his first marathon.

LAURIE WELLS, PETE RAMADGE and club mate D. WHITE from North Old Boys AAC are both 18 and this will be their first marathon.



The first Traralgon Marathon was conducted in conjunction with the 1968 Victorian Country Marathon over a loop course which began at St. Paul’s College, Maryvale Rd. Traralgon.  Barry Sawyer of St. Stephens Harriers, the start of 1968 Victorian marathon, took first| place with a time of 2 hr. 26 min. 53.6 sec.  Sawyer put up a dazzling display of relentless endurance running in beating his nearest rival, Colin Eaton of Oakleigh AAC, by 10½ minutes.  This effort was probably Sawyer’s best, of all his marathon wins, considering that the course was probably the toughest in Australia taking in such hills as Crinigan Road (Morwell).  Third in the race was popular marathon enthusiast Jimmy Crawford of South Melbourne who ran well over the latter stages to clock 2 hr. 40 min. 9 sec.

THE RACE attracted one interstate competitor Les Linsell from Tasmania — a veteran of distance running in that state.  Les was pleased with his showing of 2 hr. 48 min. 9 sec.  A feature of the race was the comparative strength of Gippsland in the country section.  An exhausted Darrel Blewett crossed the line to take the gold medal from club mate and junior track star Rod Hill.  The late Geoff Watt, a real marathon campaigner, was next, with Richard Jeffery close behind for a great first-up marathon effort. Other locals to finish were John Mason of Morwell; Chris Collins, Leigh Thompson and Robert Wood all juniors of Traralgon Harriers; John Poelsma 63 years old of Newborough.  The race attracted a field of 34 of whom 18 finished. The weather was fine with a slight headwind over the first eight miles.

The 1969 Traralgon Marathon will probably remain as the most memorable in the minds of all those associated with it.  The course was changed to an “out and back one” over comparatively flat terrain, taking in the townships of Glengarry and Toongabbie. Thirty-four athletes faced the starter in bleak wintry weather. Marathon stars — Neil Ryan of Richmond Harriers and Ian Wheeler of Traralgon Harriers led the way, setting a fast pace with the first five miles being covered in 27 minutes.  Ryan got away from Wheeler to lead by a minute at the half way but Wheeler ran strongly to regain the lead at the 18 mile mark Weather conditions worsened and took their toll — 17 runners dropped out before the 20 mile mark including leader Neil Ryan.

Ian Wheeler went on to win the marathon by 12½ minutes in 2 hr. 27 min. 42 sec. with a great display of courage. Gerry Van Der Ploeg of Ringwood overtook Martin Thompson of Traralgon Harriers at the 16 mile mark and continued to run strongly to take second place.  Thompson running in his first marathon staged a great battle with Jimmy Crawford of South Melbourne AAC from the 19 mile mark for three miles before running on to take third place.  Many outdoor sports in the area were cancelled as the weather became colder and a blizzard set in.

Fast finishing Max Holmes came fourth followed by Jim Crawford, Chris Collins, John Visser, Joe Fleischer, Bob Gerard, Norm McLeish, Geoff Watt, Leigh Thompson, John Poelsma (aged 64) and George Wilson who started running in 1968 at 56 years of age and finished this, his first marathon in 4 hours 38 minutes. Collins, Fleischer and L. Thompson, the only juniors to finish were all Traralgon Harriers.  Experienced runners were unanimous that the weather was the worst they had ever encountered for a marathon and the condition of many of those who withdrew was obviously such that they could not possibly continue.  Traralgon Harriers have a tradition of “rubbishing” runners who drop out but there was none of this at the marathon — only praise, admiration and some envy of those who showed their mettle by finishing. Widespread flooding occurred throughout the Latrobe Valley the next day.

The Journal, Monday June 8 1970 – Page 1

Figure 24 Richard Jeffery 1970 Traralgon Marathon

ABOVE: First Traralgon runner across the line in Saturday’s Traralgon Marathon, Richard Jeffery, 34, shows the strain of the 26 mile run. Jeffery came a very creditable fifth.

BELOW: Winner of the event in his personal best Australian time of 2 hr. 13 min.39.3 sec., Derek Clayton signs autographs for local admirers.  Clayton is set for a Commonwealth Games gold medal later this year.  Next to him is the youngest runner on Saturday, Len Rumble, 14, of Traralgon.

Figure 25 Derek Clayton

The Journal, Monday June 8 1970 – Page 16


Marathon world record holder, Derek Clayton, is well on his way to a gold medal in the Edinburgh Commonwealth games following his record breaking run in the Traralgon Marathon on Saturday.


Surprisingly he had not expected to do as well as he did when he chopped a minute of his previous best time.  “I’d had a bit of a cold and I didn’t think I’d go as well as that.  “I thought I’d be lucky to break two twenty (2 hr. 20 min.) in my first marathon for a year,” he said.  Derek’s previous best time was in Hobart when he ran the distance in 2 hr. 14 min. 47 sec but he cut this to 2 hr. 13 min. 39.3 sec. on Saturday.  He complimented organisers of the marathon for the way it was conducted.  He said the organisation was “excellent” and it was the best run he had competed in throughout Australia and even overseas.  His time for the return run was faster than it was on the way out.  In the end he was going so well he appeared to be sprinting as he crossed the finish line.  After the race he said conditions for the run had been ideal on the nearly flat road to Toongabbie.


First local

Spectators followed him along the route and there were an estimated 300 at the finish line to cheer him in. Second runner was Laurie Wells of Glenhuntly in 2 hr. 32 mm 7 sec., followed by Odin Paton (Oakleigh) 2 hr.33 min.  The first Traralgon runner over the line was Richard Jeffery in fifth place.  Richard was another one who was surprised by his performance as he clipped 9 min. off his previous best time. His time was 2 hr. 35 min. 2.5 sec.  He was followed by John Bermingham who also recorded a personal best time of 2 hr. 40 min. 22.2 sec. Traralgon junior, Garry Henry, 15, ran the race of his career to come in 8th in 2 hr. 48 min. 12.7 sec.  This cut 22 min. off his previous best and showed his great potential in long distance running.  Martin Thompson, 11th, in 2 hr. 51 min. 43.2 sec., and John Turpin 17th, in 3 hr. 14 min. 6 sec. were other Traralgon runners.  It was not Martin Thompson’s best time for a marathon but he was carrying a leg injury which made it difficult for him to walk five days before.



John Turpin was competing in his first marathon and this run should boost his confidence.  Another Traralgon runner, Chris Collins finished with him in the race. Len Rumble (14) and Leigh Thompson were Traralgon runners among the 25 of the 34 starters who finished the course.  There was another 15 marathon runners from Melbourne who intended to compete but they were out because of flu or injuries.


The Journal, Monday June 8 1970 – Page 14

Table 6 1970 Traralgon Marathon The Journal Details

Derek Clayton St. Stephens Harriers 2:13:39.3
Laurie Wells Glenhuntly 2:32:7
Colin Eaton Oakleigh 2:33:35
John Morris University 2:33:49
Richard Jeffery Traralgon Harriers 2:35:2.5
John Bermingham Traralgon Harriers 2:40:22.2
Bruce Hicks Brighton 2:46:40
Garry Henry Traralgon Harriers 2:48:12.7
Jim Biesty Glenhuntly 2:50:29.5
Hans Tiller Glenhuntly 2:50:57
Martin Thompson Traralgon Harriers 2:51:43
Ed Baxter Croydon 2:53:19.0
Mike Hubbert Richmond 2:57:42.5
Allan Hicks Brighton 2:59:28.2
A. Thomson Box Hill 3:2:13
Chris Collins Traralgon Harriers 3:14:6
John Turpin Traralgon Harriers 3:14:6
Norman Love Beaumauris 3:20:1
L. A. Jones Chelsea 3:23:7
Roland Webb Frankston 3:24:7
Len Rumble Traralgon Harriers 3:24:18
Norman McLeisch Old Scotch 3:31:21.7
Leigh Thompson Traralgon Harriers 3:32:53.5
Brian Mclnerney Springvale 3:37:37
George Wilson St. Stephens Harriers 4:19:23

The Journal, Monday May 26, 1975 – Page 2

Figure 26 Richard Jeffery, Leigh Thompson, Garry Henry and Geoff Wilson

Above: Four Traralgon Marathon Club members, Richard Jeffery, Leigh Thompson, Garry Henry and Geoff Wilson went for a training run on Saturday in preparation for next Sunday’s annual club marathon (see story in the sports section of this issue).  Garry Henry won yesterday’s Yallourn marathon event.

Figure 27 Richard Jeffery

What started out as a hobby has become a serious sporting activity for Traralgon businessman Richard Jeffery.  During the past 20 years Richard has been undertaking a 12 mile run every morning, seven days a week, almost without exception.  In that period he has notched up approximately 64,000 miles, and this figure excludes distances run in marathon competitions during the past seven years.  “It usually takes about an hour and a half from 6 a.m. to cover the 12 miles around Traralgon,” he said.  “If I have company it takes a little less.”  Richard claims the running keeps him fit and suggests that there are a number of other people, in and out of business, who could benefit from this daily activity.  He will be a competitor in the annual Traralgon Marathon next Sunday, over a distance of 26 miles.


The Journal, Monday May 26, 1975 – Page 14


Runners from Traralgon, Morwell, Yallourn and Newborough will compete with runners from all over Victoria and interstate in the Traralgon marathon on Sunday.  Six Traralgon runners, Richard Jeffery, Garry Henry, Geoff Wilson, Leigh Thompson, Tony Charnley and Lance Berryman will line up at the start in Davidson St and the end of Franklin St. Richard Jeffery will be running his 16th marathon.  In 1970 Richard was selected in the team to represent Victoria in the Australian Marathon Championships, where he ran his personal best time of 2 hours 28 minutes 38 seconds. Garry Henry is running his sixth marathon.  He recorded his personal best in the 1970 Traralgon Marathon of 2.48.12 when 15 years old.  Garry is the LV Champion of 1975 over 1500 metres, 5000 metres, 10,000 metres and the 3000 metres steeplechase.  He has also won every cross-country in the Latrobe Valley this year.  Geoff Wilson must be the fastest person to run the Traralgon Marathon.  Geoff joined Traralgon Harriers as a sprinter in 1967.  He has bettered 10.6 sec for 100 yards.  This will be Geoff’s first marathon and on his recent distance running form he should do well.

EXPERIENCED: Leigh Thompson, 24, will be running his 28th marathon.  He is teaching at Mirboo North High School and the surrounding hills will have sharpened him up for the marathon.  Leigh’s personal best time is 2.59.03 in 1972.  These four runners are all members of Traralgon Harriers.  Traralgon Achilles runners Lance Berryman and Tony Charnley are experienced marathoners.  Lance was the first Achilles runner to complete a marathon when he completed last year’s Traralgon Marathon.  Tony Charnley could easily run a personal best time given his present fitness.

CHAMPIONSHIP: Morwell runner John Lyons will be running his seventh marathon.  John has come second in the Victorian Country Marathon Championships on four occasions and came third once. His personal best is 2 hr. 30 min. 17 sec.  Yallourn-Newborough runners Alan Ashmore, John Eyre and John Willis are all experienced in marathons. Alan will be running his seventh marathon.  Last year he won the Victorian Country Marathon Championship at Bendigo.  John Eyre will be running in the veterans section for the, first time this year.  Jim Willis will be trying for his third successive veteran’s win this year.  He is running better this year than in previous years and could do well in this, his eighth marathon.


The Express, Wednesday May 28, 1975 – Page 51


Biggest yet

The biggest marathon ever conducted in the Latrobe Valley is planned for Traralgon on Sunday.  The eighth Traralgon Marathon has this year been incorporated with the Victorian Marathon Club’s annual marathon and is expected to attract more than 100 top Victorian and interstate runners.  The marathon, over 26 miles 385 yards, attracts dedicated and trained long-distance runners who have put in many months of preparations.  Many athletes cover more than 100 miles in training each week.  The Traralgon Harriers’ Marathon Committee have put in a lot of time and effort to ensure the success of this marathon.  Refreshment and first-aid stations will be set up three miles after the first seven miles Traralgon women’s Amateur Athletic Club will look after these stations.  The marathon starts at 1:30 p.m. at the intersection of Franklin and Davidson streets (outside the squash courts) and the leading runners will pass the Glengarry Hall soon after 2 p.m. From there they will cover a six mile loop to the turn at the 13 mile post (outside the Glengarry Hall) and then retrace their steps for the homeward run.  Spectators will be able to watch 2½ hours of distance running from the Glengarry Hall.  The first runner should cross the finishing line, outside the table tennis stadium, in Davidson St at 3:45 pm.  Runners will be finishing until about 5:30 pm.


Early start

Leo Coffey and Barry Thompson will start the marathon day at 6 am.  They erect all the mile signs, check the course, set up the tables and trestles for each feeding station and see that everything is ready for the start.  A large contingent of local runners will compete this year.  Traralgon Harriers Garry Henry, Richard Jeffery, Geoff Wilson and Leigh Thompson have been training regularly with long runs in the Jeeralang hills.  Garry hopes to better his time of 2 hr 48 min. 12 sec. which he ran when 15 years old in the 1970 Traralgon Marathon.  Garry has won every Latrobe Valley cross country championship this year.  Richard Jeffery has totalled more than 50,000 miles in the past 13 years and this background should make him a formidable opponent in the veterans section (over 40).  This is Richard’s first year in the veteran’s section. Geoff Wilson joined Traralgon Harriers as a sprinter eight years ago. Geoff, who has run just outside evens for 100 yards has been ‘bitten’ by the marathon bug and will make sure his record of never walking or pulling out of a race is maintained. Leigh Thompson will be starting in his 28th marathon.  He has run all the Traralgon Marathons and is hoping to run a personal best time this year.


Fourth Marathon

Tony Charnley of Traralgon Achilles will be returning to marathon running after a year’s rest.  This will be Tony’s fourth marathon. John Lyons of Morwell will use the Traralgon Marathon as a start to yet another hopefully successful marathon season.  He has finished second in the Victorian Country Marathon Championship four times and third once.  Yallourn runners Allan Ashmore, Jim Willis and John Eyre should do well in the teams section.  Jim Willis has won the veteran’s section in the Traralgon Marathon for the past two years.  Jim is a seasoned athlete and ran his first marathon in 1956.  Entries have been received from all over Victoria and a group of runners are coming from NSW to compete.

Figure 28 1975 Marathon route

The Journal, Thursday May 29, 1975 – Page 12

A familiar face in the annual Traralgon Marathon Leigh Thompson is pictured training for the event on Sunday.

Figure 29 Leigh Thompson


Traralgon Marathon organisers concerned for the safety of runners have changed the course for Sunday’s event.  It is the first time in six years the marathon course has been changed. Previously runners had to contend with heavy through traffic between Glengarry and Toongabbie which was dangerous to runners.  Therefore this year the Traralgon Harriers, organisers of the marathon, sought more suitable roads upon which to conduct the race.  The course that was found suitable eliminates the dangers of through traffic for most of the distance by the use of road east of Glengarry.  These roads will have little traffic apart from that which is associated with the race.  The race starts from the corner of Franklin and Davidson Streets and finishes directly outside the Table Tennis Stadium.  Another beauty of the course is that it turns back on itself from seven mile to the turning point at thirteen miles.  This would make it unnecessary for officials and spectators to travel the full thirteen miles to the turning point — the thirteen mile turn is within 200 yards of seven mile mark.

The organisers welcome anyone interested, to drive around the course and watch the race.  However, they ask that spectators in cars give other runners ‘right of way’ and to travel the loop, east of the Glengarry rail crossing, in a clockwise direction.  The start of the marathon which draws much interest from local people will be at 1:30 at the corner of Franklin and Davidson Streets.  The finish which also draws much interest is directly outside the table tennis hall in Davidson Street.  Spectators can expect to see the winner cross the line between 3:45 pm and 4 pm.  Spectators can follow the runners by car until reaching Glengarry where, if they position themselves outside the Glengarry Hall, can watch the leading runners, come through the seven mile mark between 2 and 2:30 pm.  They will also see runners make the turn at the thirteen mile mark outside the hall between 2:30 and 2:45 pm and finally see them pass the nineteen mile mark (seven mile mark on the way out) on the return journey between 3 pm and 3:15.  The presentation of trophies to the first, second and third placegetters, first team, and first veteran will take place at 5:15 pm.

About 142 marathons have been run by 24 members of Traralgon Harriers.  This represents a total mileage of 3723 miles in 536 hours of running.  Martin Thompson has the largest total with 30 marathons to his credit at an average time of 2:58.  His younger brother Leigh has run 27 marathons at an average time of 3:53. Leigh has 96 hours of marathon running compared to Martin’s 89 hours.  The club average for marathons is 3:46. The Harrier’s fastest time is 2:20:45 by John Bermingham (he later ran 2:17:21 to win the Victorian marathon championships in 1973 as a member of Melbourne University Amateur Athletic club).  Ian Wheeler is second fastest at 2:27:49 to win the second Traralgon marathon in 1969.  On the basis of this performance he won a trip to Canada to represent Australia at an international marathon where he finished fifth.  The slowest Harrier time is 4:54:54 by a runner who wishes to remain anonymous.  This time, indicates how keen the runner was to finish rather than drop out.


The Journal, Monday June 2, 1975 – Page 12

Marathon 2nd for Richard

Richard Jeffery, 40 finished second in the veterans’ section of the Traralgon Annual Marathon on Sunday.  Jeffery who has competed in about 17 marathons finished the race apparently untroubled by the gruelling twenty-five miles.  He was second to South Melbourne runner Jim Crawford who ran the race in two hours 53 minutes and 45 seconds.  Despite his age Jeffery still managed to finish in the first fifteen of the 64 runners, and recorded a time of 2:55:29.  He said after the race, “When I finish one of these races, I swear it’s my last, but, I always seem to run again”.  Most people would probably feel like sleeping for two days after competing in such an event, but not Jeffery.  “I don’t sleep very well after a marathon.”  Garry Henry was the first Traralgon runner to cross the finish line.  His time was 2:34:55.

Table 7 1975 Official results Traralgon Marathon

A. Hill Glenhuntly 2:26:15.6 1
P. O’Hare Collingwood 2:29:39 2
D. Edwards NSW 2:30:03 3
J. Duck 2:31:26 5
G. Henry Harriers 2:34:55 6
C. Eaton Oakleigh 2:40:19


Richard Jeffery crosses a bridge during the marathon on Sunday.

Figure 30 Richard Jeffery 1975 Traralgon Marathon


The Express, Wednesday June 4, 1975 – Page 51

And they’re racing! Traralgon City’s Cr Brian Symons fires the gun and the 70-strong field is on its way in eighth Traralgon Marathon.

Figure 31 Cr Brian Symons starts Traralgon Marathon

Hill takes Traralgon Marathon at first try

Seventy athletes faced the starter in the eighth, and most successful, Traralgon Marathon on Sunday.  Glenhuntly runner Andy Hill won the event in the class time of 2 hr. 26 min. 15.6 sec.  Hill, who is an Australian distance running championship holder, was competing in his first Traralgon Marathon.  His time was particularly good considering the Traralgon event is the first on the Victorian marathon calendar.

Officials said the marathon was the best ever, both in the number and quality of entries. Collingwood’s Paul O’Hare finished second in 2:29:39 and Dave Edwards of St George, NSW, was third in 2:30:3.  The St George team of Dave Edwards, Laurie Wells and Tom Gillis won the team’s event from Traralgon Harriers.  The St George team travelled to Victoria especially for the Traralgon Marathon.

First “local” runner home was John Duck in the Waverley club colours but he lives in the Latrobe Valley.  Garry Henry (Traralgon Harriers) was sixth in the excellent time of 2:34:55.  Other local runners to finish the marathon were Allan Ashmore of Yallourn 2:45:54 (ninth); John Lyon of Morwell 2:53:09 (13th); Leigh Thompson of Traralgon 3:08:54 (25th); John Eyre of Yallourn 3:10:42 (27th); Geoff Wilson of Traralgon 3:21:40 (34th).  Jim Crawford of South Melbourne won the veteran’s section in 2:53:45 (15th) from Traralgon’s Richard Jeffery 2:55:29 (17th).  Only 36 of the 70 starters completed the marathon.  Runners faced a strong headwind for part of the journey, ruining any chance of record times.

After 26 gruelling miles, winner Andy Hill (Glenhuntly) could still manage to pose for photographer.

33 Phil Lear 1976 Traralgon Marathon

The 1980 and 1981 Traralgon Marathon Course was out and back with the turnaround at Koornalla.

This Traralgon South Marathon Course was an out and back course it started at the High School went out along the Traralgon Creek Road to Traralgon South then out to Koornalla where competitors turned and ran back to finish at the High School.  Richard Jeffrey recalled it only run twice due to complaints about it being to hilly.


Figure 34 1980 and 1981 Traralgon South Marathon Course


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