SPORADIC showers and pesky mosquitoes could not wipe the smiles off the faces of participants and supporters alike at Sunday morning’s Bendigo Bank Fun Run.
A little more than 2000 people ran or walked in one of the events of the day, a fundraiser organised by the Bendigo Health Foundation for the purchase of equipment for the city’s new hospital.
Event organiser Tara Everist said they expected they had raised almost $120,000 this year.
Ms Everist praised the participants for tackling the unpredictable weather conditions with gusto and said there was a “fantastic atmosphere”.
The first runners, those in the 21.1-kilometre run and relay, took to the starting line on Pall Mall at 7am in the rain.
Despite some bursts of sun, the last of the groups, those walking and running the five-kilometre course, also experienced a brief shower as they took their marks before taking off at 9.30am.
This year saw a new event added to the schedule to pay tribute to a much-loved member of the local athletics and sporting community.
The Tracy Wilson relay saw teams of four share the distance of 21.1 kilometres in memory of Mr Wilson, who passed away from cancer earlier this year.
The Buckell brothers – Matt and Ned, 14, Jacob, 15, and Jordan, 17 – were the first to cross the finish line in the relay.
They knew Mr Wilson, or Willo as he was known to his friends, through their involvement in athletics and cross-country, and said they wanted to do the relay for him.
Jordan said that while the run was “pretty hard”, particularly in the Barnard Street section, it was fun, with Jacob adding there was a good atmosphere.
While the brothers are seasoned runners and have now participated in three Bendigo Fun Runs, they did not expect to win this event.
“No, not at all, we just tried our best and hoped for the best,” Jordan said.
Mr Wilson’s daughters Mikaela, Jessey and Ellie also participated in the event with Jodie Giles, telling the Bendigo Advertiser it was an honour to see people turn out in their dad’s memory.
“The fact it was a team thing was really good, because Dad was all about doing it together,” Mikaela said.
They said there were plenty of people along the course cheering them on.
“Willo would have just been honoured… He loved participation and loved everyone having a go, and the relay gives everyone that opportunity, to have a bit of fun,” Ms Giles said.
Sharnie Digby was another notable participant of the day, the only person to have completed the 21.1 kilometre run in a wheelchair.
The Castlemaine resident said the Bendigo Fun Run was only the second half marathon she had undertaken and was happy to have completed the course, in a time of about two and a half hours.
The rain was a bit of a hindrance, causing her to lose grip on her wheels, but despite that and the hills being a bit tough, Ms Digby said it was a great course and “a lot of fun”.
Businesses and community groups also supported the event by selling food and beverages, the proceeds of which they donated to the cause.