Zach tours USA

Deniliquin Pastoral Times - - SPORT -

From the lush scenery at Las Ve­gas’ Sun­set Park to the arid desert in Casa Grande, Ari­zona, lo­cal run­ner Zach Noo­nan has con­quered some of the United States’ pre­mier cross coun­try run­ning trails.

The 14 year-old re­cently par­tic­i­pated in a two-week cross coun­try tour of the United States, hosted by Sports Travel Aus­tralia.

Zach was one of 35 other Aus­tralians on the trip, in­clud­ing coaches and par­ents, and was ac­com­pa­nied by his mum, Deb­bie Gaz­zara.

De­part­ing Aus­tralia on Septem­ber 20 and ar­riv­ing back in De­niliquin on Wed­nes­day, Deb­bie de­scribed it as a ‘‘trip of a life­time’’.

‘‘Zach has a pas­sion for run­ning and he made life­long friends on the trip — it was amaz­ing,’’ she said.

Zach’s first race on Septem­ber 23 was held at Sun­set Park in Las Ve­gas, Ne­vada.

De­spite bat­tling the flu and only hav­ing his wrist plas­ter re­moved the week be­fore, the Deni teenager per­formed strongly, fin­ish­ing 62nd out of 148 run­ners in the 5km course.

Three days later, Zach took on the home course of Coron­ado High School’s cross coun­try team at Sonata Park, Ne­vada which Deb­bie said was ‘‘all up­hill’’.

Af­ter leav­ing Las Ve­gas, the group headed four hours west to Cal­i­for­nia’s Wil­liams High School, where the com­bined team — con­sist­ing of three Amer­i­cans and three Aus­tralians — claimed gold.

‘‘As well as the cross coun­try meets, the kids also had train­ing runs and stretch­ing ses­sion most days,’’ Deb­bie said.

From there the group com­peted in Casa Grande, Ari­zona.

Com­pet­ing in the open grade, Deb­bie said Zach was ‘‘very com­pet­i­tive’’, fin­ish­ing mid-field.

‘‘This course was the most over­whelm­ing of all — it was 39 de­grees and there were just thou­sands of peo­ple ev­ery­where,’’ Deb­bie said.

‘‘There were more than 6000 peo­ple in a cou­ple of races and there was a foot­ball field packed with school mar­quees.

‘‘The PSSA car­ni­vals we have in Syd­ney are noth­ing com­pared to this.’’

Re­turn­ing home on Wed­nes­day, the trip is ex­pected to place Zach in good shape for the up­com­ing lo­cal cross coun­try sea­son, which kicks off this school term.

Zach Noo­nan be­fore his race in Casa Grande, Ari­zona.

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