'Wave of bodies' as Run Ballarat 2014 began

The siren sounded and a wave of human bodies surged forth on the first steps of the 12km Run Ballarat course on Sunday.

They were led away by event ambassador and marathon runners Tracie Kaye and Steve Moneghetti, Nathan Hartigan, and the other "serious" runners.

Following in their wake were the keen joggers and the weekend warriors, and finally two ducks. Or at least two entrants dressed as ducks.

The first part of the route, heading downhill, down Sturt Street may have given some runners a false sense of security. It didn't get much easier than that until the very end as runners turned onto Pleasant Street North and its oh so pleasant tailwind.

By about the two or three kilometre mark the mass had begun to spread out as the runners snaked their way around the bottom end of the city and then up along Mair Street. That uphill stretch really separated the hardcore competitors from the rest.

Remarkably, despite challenging course and the gusty winds (especially around Lake Wendouree) the fastest men averaged about 19kmh, the fastest women upwards of 16kmh. They maintained that pace even as they entered City Oval and accelerated for the half lap to the finish line.

At the pointy end of the field, it was a case of history repeating itself.

Last year's winner Nathan Hartigan completed the course in a time of 36 minutes and 21 seconds, ahead of Steve Moneghetti (37.30) and Nic Van Raaphorst (37.51).

The first woman to cross the line was 2012 winner Angela Williams (42.52), from Tracie Kaye (44.27) and Maddie Orr (47.08).

Williams, 42, said it was tougher this year.

"I'm from Buninyong where nothing's flat so I'm used to that but it got very windy around the lake," she explained.

"I faded a bit at 6km but then on the first bit of the lake the blossoms were blowing past me so there must have been a bit of a tail wind. But on the last bit it was coming across my face so it was very pleasant turning onto Pleasant Street.

At the start of the Run, Tracie Kaye admitted she had been still feeling sore following a marathon in Melbourne last weekend. So was 12km an easy stroll after that? 

"Yeah right!" she replied. "To be honest I couldn't even feel my legs after 4km.