A BLISTERING hot day was the prelude to the second annual Nowra Athletics Club one kilometre handicapped race held at the Nowra Show on Saturday night.
But this did not deter the enthusiasm of the 15 athletes, juniors and seniors, as they donned their coloured bibs in readiness to give the run their all.
As the athletes lined up in their handicapped order, the crowd was awash with excitement.
Young James Babian, with pure grit and determination on his face, led the race off a handicap of go.
Next was James’ mum, Laura, hot on his tail on a 20 second handicap.
It certainly was a family event for the Babians on Saturday night, as dad Leith and brother Jake also competed.
Young Anabelle Dallas was next to fly off the starting line with a 28 second handicap followed closely by Darlene Musgrove and Jasmine Greenwood, who both ran off 38 seconds.
Evergreen bare foot runner Kevyn Davis put his best foot forward off a handicap of 40 seconds, with young Ethan Havadjia chasing him eight seconds later.
Jake Babian was next off the line with a fast start off 50 seconds followed by the racing demon Andrew Havadjia off 55 seconds.
National and international champion Chrissie Suffolk added some pressure to the race, running off a handicap of one minute and two seconds.
Veteren Bill Broughton, who has been running exceptionally well this season, was next off the line on a handicap of one minute and 10 seconds, with the two Scotts, Johnson and Martin, off handicaps of one minute and 28 seconds and one minute and 35 seconds respectively.
Club president Peter Dooley was not far behind them on a handicap of one minute 38 seconds, and last off the turf with a handicap of one minute and 46 seconds was Leith Babian, considered the fasted runner with an anticipated time of sub three minutes.
Leith had the honour to wear the red vest to signify this.
With only one minute and 46 seconds between the first and last runner starting, the race was electrifying to watch as James Babian led all the way in the first lap followed closely by his mother Laura.
But the line-up changed significantly in the second lap as the gap started to close in among these rapid fire athletes who ran the race of their life to the finish line.
The handicapping was spot on with only 31 seconds between first and last place in an almost blanket finish.
With the roaring of the crowd, Laura Babian stayed steely all the way, taking the lead from James and holding it with sheer determination to cross the line first with a grin from ear to ear.
Laura received a gold sash for her great effort.
In a repeat of last year’s event, barefoot runner Kevyn Davis claimed second place just five seconds behind Laura.
Claiming third place was Andrew Havadjia, who true to form ran like a demon with his unique style.
As predicted, the man in the red vest, Leith Babian, was the fastest runner of the night in a fantastic time of two minutes and 59 seconds.
Congratulations to all athletes who participated in this event.
A full list of corrected times and placings can be found on the Nowra Athletics Club website.
Thank you also to the organisers and volunteers who helped make this event run like a well oiled machine.
Thank you to Peter Dooley, Jo Warren, Jan Gibb, John Price, Peter Condon, Lisa Carroll, Donna Johnson, and Julieanne Dallas.
Yours in running, Maxine Gernyi.