The Oceania Half Marathon Championships have were conducted in Port Vila, Vanuatu on Thursday morning.
The local boy, Simon Charley, coming off Gold Medals in the 10,000m and Steeplechase in the Pacific Game, being conducted during the week, continued his good form by winning the race.
Charley, who trains on the roads along the course, had support from the villages along the roadside. Despite the early start, each village along the race route, come out in support of their local hero. Despite the rain coming down in the droves, the small crowd gathered in the stadium, chanted in the stadium “go Charlie go” at any hint of information from the radio broadcast following the race.
When Simon entered Korman the stadium erupted, as he ran around the track, draped in the Vanuatu flag as he crossed the line. The first three athletes where all in the stadium as Charley crossed the line, summing up, what an exciting race that had been played out on the roads of Port Vila.
An intriguing battle between the leaders over the back half of the course, in the hills of the Tuaoma Villages, where lead changes between Charely and Fiji’s Avikash Lal ensured the crowd waiting in the stadium where kept on the edge of their seats. The lead changed multiple times of the middle of the race, before charley started to edge away on the hills on the return leg.
In the Women’s race, the field was strung out early, with an American Peace Corp Volunteer, running as an exhibition athlete, Francis … took out the race, with New Zealand’s Mel Aitken, crossing second and taking home the Oceania Championships Gold Medal. Sharon Firasura, from the Solomon Islands, taking home the Pacific Games Gold Medal, and the silver medal in the Oceania Championships.
The support of the Local Organising Committee, and Local Police was tremendous. A thank you to the all of the volunteers, who manned the drink stations along the course.
- Simon Charley (VAN) 1.15:44
- Armon Napuat (VAN) 1.15.57
- Avikash Lal (FIJ) 1.16:08
- Mel Aitken (NZL) 1.25:43
- Sharon Firisua (SOL) 1.27:31
- Diannah Matekali (SOL) 1.31.25