Sandy Point Classic still going strong

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Runners set off at the start of the Sandy Point Classic off-road half marathon at Sandy Point, near Invercargill, last Sunday. Photo: Supplied

SANDY POINT is a great place if you are looking for seclusion, peace, and no crowds.

Except for last Sunday morning, when it was invaded by runners in the Shoe Clinic-St Pauls off-road Sandy Point Classic.

Run for more than 40 years, about 15 years as an off-road event, the Sandy Point Classic included a half-marathon, 10km, 5km and walks through bush tracks, beach, road, and grass.

This year it was based at the Oreti Sands golf course, instead of the nearby rowing club, but the change of venue did not do away with the hard slog along Oreti Beach and bush trails.

Now a tradition in the Southland running calendar, the half-marathon trophy documented some of Southland’s best-known running names.

This year it featured world mountain running representative Buddy Small, who cruised to a win with a 3-minute lead from Saern Hunniset. Emma Swale won the women’s section by only 9 seconds from Kara Dunbray in an exciting finish.

Small was little troubled by a strong headwind along Oreti Beach but did say wet shoes, thanks to pools caused by recent heavy rains, slowed him down a bit.

The pools were so big, one runner had to shoo the ducks off before running through the water.

The 10km (actually a quarter marathon) started at the same time as the half with Craig Iversen making it a family double with daughter Kimberley (13) taking the women’s section.

Craig won by an impressive 5 minutes.

The associated 5km featured four of Southland’s most promising young prospects as triathlete Lachie Baird (17) led James McLeay (14) in the men’s and Kennedy Taylor (15) headed Sadie Wech (17) in the women’s race.

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