Local Government has been a force behind the Burnie Ten throughout its long existence. The race evolved from the then Burnie Council’s desire to promote the town and boost economic development through tourism.
When local port Deputy Harbour-Master and keen amateur runner, Captain Michael BossWalker, suggested a signature middle distance race a Burnie Development Committee, comprised of Council, Marine Board, Service Club, Business and Chamber of Commerce representatives, and Council fully endorsed it.
While elite runners provide the glamour, the Burnie Ten has not wavered from its original traditions to present a challenge for all of the family whether walking, jogging or running.
When Mike Boss-Walker suggested in 1984 a major footrace to promote the town, he could hardly have envisaged what an impact it would have, not only on this community but throughout Tasmania.
In 1984 a Burnie Ten Organising Committee was formed with Boss-Walker as Convenor/Secretary. The Committee were Councillors (Dr) Paul Cains and Deputy Warden (now known as Mayor) Adrian Hayward, appointed Publicity Officer and Sponsorship Officer respectively. Local teachers Phil Crombie (Athletic Director), Dick McKenna and Michael Walker (Financial Officers) and lawyer Nick Walker completed the group.
“We believe the Burnie Ten will do for distance running what Burnie’s New Year’s Day sports carnival has done for cycling and sprinting,” said Dr Cains. The plan was to start and finish in Burnie’s main shopping centre, to promote the vibrancy of the town, with an out and back course to Wivenhoe.
Mainland and State elites were targeted and the Committee was confident it could attract up to a thousand participants.
They were not far off target, with 809 entries, including Stephen Moneghetti, of Ballarat (Victoria), who was destined to become a household name in middle distance athletics.
Tasmania’s three newspapers, local radio and the ABC announced the new event on Saturday, 8th September 1984, after a major launch function at the Burnie Civic Centre on the Friday.
On 22nd March 1985 The Advocate and Air New Zealand announced they had joined forces to become the race’s first naming rights sponsors. The contribution included three return air fares to San Francisco, flying Air New Zealand, for athletes to compete in the 10 km Bay-toBreakers event.
By July 1985 it had become apparent the Burnie Ten was already being recognised as an event of national significance. Computer giant Wang, usually associated with capital city events such as the Wang Marathon and Live Aid telethon, had agreed to bring hardware and operators to Burnie to time the inaugural event.
By race eve, with 750 runners expected to face the starter, 22-year-old Ballarat civil engineer Steve Moneghetti, the reigning Australian cross country champion and just back from the World Student Games in Japan, was race favourite. His best 10km time was 28 minutes 56 seconds.
NSW Commonwealth Games representative Lawrie Whitty, however, would be competing with a previous best time of 28 minutes 26 seconds. Many others were considered to be “dark horses”.
Moneghetti, brooding over a disappointing campaign at the World Student Games in the heat of Kobe, Japan, finished in a time of 28 minutes and 54 seconds – the fastest 10 km ever recorded in Tasmania. It was the beginning of a legendary connection with this great race. Moneghetti went on to win the event four times – 1985, 1988, 1993 and 2001, the last only one second slower than his original winning time.
Whitty came in third, behind Victorian Adam Hoyle, who had led the field earlier.
Moneghetti followed a pre-race plan and took over the lead at 7km, opening up a 300m winning break.
While the race was a triumph for the elite athletes it more than fulfilled its promise as a runjog-walk fun run, with competitors of all ages and stages and even a dog, taking part.
While Moneghetti’s four wins remain outstanding, there have been many other multiple wins. Andrew Lloyd (ACT) won in 1986, 1990 and 1991. Bundoora (Vic) runner Darren Wilson, later of the ACT, won the event in 1994, 1996 and 1997. Local runner Stewart McSweyn won in 2017 and 2018, Canberra-based Brett Robinson won in 2015 and 2016, Queenslander Pat Carroll won in 1987 and 1992, Martin Dent (ACT) in 2005 and 2007 and Victorian runners Craig Mottram (in 2002 and 2003) and Collis Birmingham (in 2006 and 2012).
Sydney's Lara Tamsett is the only athlete, male or female, to win three consecutive Burnie Tens. The diminutive runner achieved the triumvirate in 2008-2009-2010. Multiple female winners include Eloise Wellings in 2016 and 2017, Nikki Chapple 2012 and 2013, Emily Brichacek 2011 and 2018, Haley McGregor 2003 and 2004, Kerryn McCann 1995 and 2005 and Tasmanian Kylie Risk 1998 and 1999.
Tasmanians have also covered themselves in glory.
In 2017 King Island’s Stewart McSweyn became the first Tasmanian to win the event, edging out previous year’s winner Brett Robinson. Other higher placed Tasmanians include Dean Giblin (1989), Grant Page (2009) and Kim Gillard (2006) who all finished third overall. Russell Foley finished fourth overall in 1990 while Devonport's Leigh Taylor finished fifth overall in our very first race in 1985.
Grant Page has been fastest Tasmanian an incredible eight times in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015. Dean Giblin has been fastest Tasmanian five separate times in 1987, 1989, 1992, 1993 and 1996. Dave Thomas finished fastest three times in 2003, 2011, and 2014. Multiple Tasmanian fastest males also include Leigh Taylor 1985 and 1986, Russell Foley 1988 and 1990, Michael Chettle 1998 and 2000 and Colin Oliver 1999 and 2001.
Kylie Risk is the undisputed female Tasmanian best ever. In 1997 the Hobart athlete finished second overall, 46 seconds behind Victorian Kate Anderson, who completed the distance in the record time of 32.02. The following year in 1998 Kylie won the event, completing the distance six seconds faster, in 32.42. Then, in 1999 Kylie again won the race, this time in our race record time of 31.42 - a record that still stands. Kylie Risk was back in form in 2004 when she was first Tasmanian female home.
Like Kylie, Meriem Daoui has been first Tasmanian female across the line four times in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018. Donna MacFarlane has been first female Tasmanian home on three occasions in 2005, 2006 and 2008. Mel Daniels also completed the same feat in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Multiple Tasmanian fastest females include Joanne Campbell-Smith 1989 and 1990, Andrea Marquart 1991 and 1994, Maryann Murray 1992 and 1993 and Mandy Westbrook 1995 and 1996.
The Burnie Ten has been fortunate with support of civic-minded organisations that are genuinely invested in the welfare and well-being of our community. The inaugural 1985 naming rights partners were Air New Zealand and The Advocate Newspaper, followed in 1986 – 1989 with Wang, 1995 - 1998 with Adidas, 1999 – 2011 with Skilled Engineering, 2012 – 2017 with B&E and in 2018 local specialty cheesemaker The Heritage, part of the Lion group, became the event’s seventh premier partner.
In 2015 the committee introduced a 5 kilometre event. The race started in Wilson Street outside the Council Chambers to ensure an accurate distance when finishing under the race gantry near Burnie’s Centrepoint Arcade. Local runners Daniel Reeves and Emma Saint-John (who finished fourth over-all) were the inaugural race’s first across the line. With an initial 433 entries, the race numbers have increased each year until in 2018 RACT became the race’s first naming rights partner.
After a trial the previous year, the committee introduced an Elite Wheelchair 10km Road Race in 2015 with ParaQuad Tasmania as naming rights partner. Entrants starting at 11am, fifteen minutes before the main 10km race field. Local Matthew Brumby won the inaugural race.