Twenty-Fifth Annual Australia Day Fun Run
On Thursday, 26 January 2017, Meningie Progress Association (MPA) held its twenty-fifth annual Australia Day Fun Run.
Over the years, the event has evolved and now also includes Australia Day award presentations.
The first MPA Australia Day community breakfast and fun run was held on Monday, 1 February 1993, from the Meningie Mall and Lions Jubilee Park. At the time, Australia Day was celebrated on a holiday which was often held on a Monday or Friday closest to 26 January in order to create a long weekend.
Around one hundred people participated in the first event with mostly locals taking out the awards. Competing in that first event were members of the Genovese family from Adelaide. Alex Genovese has participated in every event since.
Entertainment was provided by the very popular Bazza the Bunyip. And more that 250 breakfasts were served after the fun run.
The first organising committee was headed by Wayne Davies, Steve Adams and Nancy Burgoyne. Others who assisted were Steve Starling, Jim Pratt, Peter Watson, Bill Ehmcke, Josie and John Williams, Lawrie Fishpool (who on occasions started the race with a shot gun), Margie Williams, Tim Lewis, Lesley and Mick Fischer, Harry Ousley, Dick Hudson, Geoff Halliday, Kym-Lea Angas, Garry Hera-Singh, Rex Qualmann and Stewart Mathews. The Meningie Football Club provided marshals for the first race with players using the event to crank up their preseason training.
The first time that the Meningie Council Australia Day Citizen of the Year award was presented at the fun run was in 1994, with Mrs Ally McArdle receiving the award. The fun run event has given the now Coorong District Council a great opportunity to make the presentations at a public event on the day each year.
It soon became necessary to do pre-event registrations as the line of people wanting to register grew to a point that it was not possible to complete them all in the hour before the start of the race. Numbers have increased steadily since, with more than 200 participants in 2016.
The route has changed through the years and in 2010 the committee took advantage of low lake levels and highlighted the plight of the lakes and river when the fun run was held on the dry lake bed. The inaugural and hopefully the last ‘Henley on Albert’ dry-land boat race was also held.
The 2013 event took on a whole new look with a new route and venue when the event moved to the Meningie town oval. The route took participants on a more scenic trip along the lake front.
The Fun Run now has a website where people can look at past events and keep up to date with current happenings and download an entry form for registrations.
More than 5,500 breakfasts have been served, around 500 medallions have been presented and around 4,000 entry forms submitted.
With the acquisition of this piece of land in front of the Meningie Cheese Factory Museum, by the Meningie Museum, the opportunity arose to hold the fun run from this point in order to reduce safety issues involved with participants crossing over Narrung Road.
From records available to us we surmise that only one person, Alex Genovese from Adelaide has participated in all twenty-five events.