2023 Bill Burke Classic

Saturday 15th of April saw the 17th running of the Bill Burke Classic.  Held every year since 2007, this annual event sees members of the club and associates do battle over a hilly 4km course. The temperature at nearby Essendon airport was 18.8 degrees as the event started at 9:30am. Michael and Renus Burke attended on behalf of the Burke family as our 15 competitors warmed up for the event. At 9:30 it was time to get the show on the road, as the rain was on the way at some stage.

With several former winners in the field, the race was wide open, it was going to come down to who felt best on the day. 

Our oldest competitor in the field was also the frontmarker Trevor Hawksworth was first coached by Bill as a 15-year-old in 1962, training around the boundary at Windy Hill while the footballers trained in the centre of the oval. 61 years later, he’s still running. Matt Goodger and Darran Hill were the next two runners to start, followed by veterans David Jones and John Cooper. For the first time in the race history, we had twin sisters taking part in the event. Melina and Bianca Palamara headed out next, followed by Rachel Brici and Brian Anderson.

Angela Ngo and Mel Kodi were next to start, by this stage we were getting towards the backmarkers.  Danny Hawksworth, Jeff Jones, James Fitzgerald and our backmarker Damien Bruneau completed the 15-runner field.

Into the first lap, Darran Hill had made a steady start, moving up to Matt Goodger.  John Cooper had made up some ground on David Jones in front of him.  Not many moves were happening at the back of the field, but James Fitzgerald had taken a fair bit of ground off the two runners in front of him.  On the uphill section of the second lap is where things started to happen.  Mel Kodi caught up to Angela Ngo, while James had passed Jeff Jones and bridged the gap to Danny Hawksworth. 

James quickly moved up to pass Ngo and Kodi, then on the downhill moved past Hill, Anderson, Brici and Trevor Hawksworth.  With just inside 1km to go, he was a clear second place, the question was could he catch John Cooper.  Damien Bruneau was starting to move through the field after being the final runner to start. 

As James came down the hill and onto the flat park section to finish, he could see that the gap to Cooper was a bridge too far.  John went on to finish in first place, after being a previous winner of the event.  James in his first event with the club finished in second place, with a determined Mel Kodi holding off Danny Hawksworth, in a repeat of a Little Athletics cross country race in 1994. 

Jeff Jones managed to hold off training partner Damien Bruneau, while Melina Palamara showed some sibling rivalry to move away from her sister Bianca.

Full results are as follows:


Name                          Start                Finish              Actual time     Placing

Trevor Hawksworth    0:17                 25:29               25:12               12th

Matthew Goodger       0:52                 27:42               26:50               15th

Darran Hill                 2:41                 25:29               22:48               11th

David Jones                3:04                 24:42               21:38               9th

John Cooper                4:25                 23:00               18:35               1st

Melina Palamara        4:38                 26:30               21:52               13th

Bianca Palamara         4:38                 26:52               22:14               14th

Rachel Brici                5:03                 24:38               19:35               7th

Brian Anderson          5:34                 24:39               19:05               8th

Angela Ngo                 6:11                 24:54               18:43               10th

Mel Kodi                     7:12                 23:51               16:39               3rd

Danny Hawksworth    8:12                 23:57               15:45               4th

Jeff Jones                    8:54                 24:09               15:15               5th

James Fitzgerald         9:34                 23:32               13:58               2nd

Damien Bruneau         10:59               24:17               13:18               6th

Thanks to all our officials who helped out with the event, timing and photographs; Stephen Murphy, Frances Lipscombe and Abere Bilay.