The Greater Raymond Terrace Fun Run presents a unique opportunity for runners to blast out a different distance, presents a platform for beginning runners and high performance runners to compete together and could be the launching pad for new and rekindled Olympic ambitions. RunNSW breaks down 3 themes that came out of yesterday’s launch.

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1. 8km is a rare distance to run these days
For those of you who have been around the fun run scene for more than 20 years will remember that 8km or 5 miles was the ’go to’ distance for a community fun run. For the elite males it was a chance to run hard from start to finish and try and break the magical 24minute barrier. It also offered other clear performance targets like a ’sub 30minute’ or ’sub 1hour’ for the newly initiated. Typically in the 80’s and 90’s when an 8km fun run was held it was the only event on offer. Simplicity was the key with all ages and all abilities assembled on a start line in the main street which was closed down momentarily before the runners set off and cars soon followed them!
Matt Rashke who is a ’stalwart of the social mega running group the ’five30 Runners’ made the unique point of having been an avid runner for several years now he had never competed in an 8km event. Having missed the event last year Matt declared he is highly motivated to run this year and finds the distance much less daunting than the typical 10km.
In a similar vein dual Olympian Commonwealth Games medallist Youcef Abdi said in all his years’ of running he had never run an 8km fun run. Which leads us to quick take 2.

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The Bathurst Edgell jog is a famous 8km (or close to) fun run that has stood the test of time.

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Vlad Shatrov and Guy Walters battle out the 8k in 2014

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2. Youcef Abdi is not done yet
Not many athletes these days have a story that compares to Youcef Abdi. A talented junior athlete from Algeria who made his way to Australia in 1996 leaving family and friends to find the freedom to pursue his dream. Youcef was talented and soon made is mark in the running scene in Sydney and Australia in the late 90’s. The author remembers being ’towelled up’ by Youcef on multiple occasions when running his own way to personal best times in ’99.
A Commonwealth Games medal at Manchester in 2002 in the 1500m and Youcef looked to be on his way. The next 4 years were tough and as Youcef missed his chance at the Olympic Games in 2000 and again in 2004 he decided to switch events and run the challenging 3000m steeple chase. The move was risky and while he made the 2006 Commonwealth Games team for Melbourne he had horribly bad luck falling twice and striking his head but gallantly running on to complete the race. This only served as greater motivation as Youcef applied himself to the art of hurdling in order to clear the barriers. He worked hard at the aerobic components of training he was missing that could complement his natural speed and middle distance ability. In 2008 he made his first Olympic Team. This proved to be Youcef’s career defining performance as he ran personal bests in the heat and final of the Beijing Olympics placing 5th in the final. This is arguably the best individual track performance by an Australian Male in recent times at the Olympic Games. Youcef made his second Olympic team in 2012 and looked as though he was done aged 35.
However, with not too much probing from Robbo at yesterday’s Raymond Terrace Event launch Youcef declared “ I am getting back into shape and I would really love to train for another Olympic Games in Rio” !
Given that Youcef now works for Little Athletics NSW as a development officer he also declared his intention to return to Raymond Terrace on Sunday 6th September and run his first 8km fun run.
Robbo wrapped up his interview with Youcef nicely with;
“So September 6 we will see Youcef Abdi launch his 2016 Olympic Campaign here in Raymond Terrace and given that he has never run and 8km before we can look forward to a personal best performance”!

Youcef here with athletes Guy Walters, Jai Holland and Kaitlyn Klein


3. Fun Runs are a great way to raise awareness of a cause
RunNSW welcomes our events to partner with charities in order to raise awareness or funds for particular causes. Our believe is that these partnerships need to be real and heartfelt and this is certainly the case with our host club the Raymond Terrace Athletics Centre. Club Chairperson David Holland declared that they wanted to use the event to support the work of the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation due to a young member of our club who is suffering from the disease. He went on to say that the Raymond Terrace Athletics Centre is a family orientated club and has been greatly impacted by the struggle faced by one of their families.
As I (author) have walked through the process of organising this year’s fun run with the assistance of Raymond Terrace Athletics Centre is has been clear that as individuals and as a club they are genuinely impacted. While such a struggle is often kept to close friends and family the wider community wonders how to they can support. In such difficult circumstances I believe there may not be a correct response other than to “do something” is infinitely better than “to do nothing”. In showing solidarity and support in a constructive way we as a community can demonstrate compassion and empathy for the family who is suffering. We may not be part of the ’inner circle’ but by doing something we can say ’we see your struggle’.
So the Raymond Terrace Athletics Centre has ’done something’ by becoming a registered fund raiser for the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation. It may not be the perfect response, it may not cure the disease but it’s their way of supporting their family.

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David Holland, Chairperson of Raymond Terrace Athletics Centre

Article by Scott Westcott
RunNSW