EMMA RYNNE went from beach sprinter to bride on the run when she won the women's Queanbeyan Gift in 13.5 seconds on Saturday. Fellow beach sprinter Dean Scarff won the men's gift.
Rynne, from Northcliffe Surf Club in Queensland, held off the field as the frontmarker, running off 13m, to claim the richest women's footrace in the country, with the $10,000 winner's cheque coming at the perfect time.
''I bought a house on Friday and my partner and I are getting married in September, so the money just couldn't have come at a better time for me,'' Rynne said. ''We move in on December 15, so we've actually got to pay a deposit this week.''
There was a nervous wait at the finish line as officials checked the photo finish to confirm Rynne did indeed beat Bridget Oakley of Albury for the top gong, with fellow Queenslander Nikki Venardos finishing third.
''It's always hard running out in front, you don't know where the girls are behind you … I could hear Mel Breen coming, and was really lucky just to hold them off in the end there.''
Local hopeful Breen, the only scratch marker, finished fifth in the race which was won in a much faster time than the 13.7 seconds she ran to win the Stawell Gift in April. ''I would have liked to come a bit higher, but those girls had very good marks, and ran very fast, so I couldn't have run that off scratch,'' she said.
Rynne had her reservations heading into the race against the Olympian, having watched Breen run in awe.
''She's just amazing - she wasn't in my semi so I was able to sit back and watch her and she just runs beautifully. I was really nervous, I felt a bit sick before it.''
But Queanbeyan put on some perfect conditions for the interstate visitors, with the heat making Rynne feel right at home.
''This is sort of Gold Coast weather … when we arrived on the plane last night we were very, very happy to see what the weather forecast was like.''
In the men's event, fellow beach sprinter Scarff, a software engineer with Google, beat Kurt Mulcahy, a former AIS scholarship holder and Gungahlin Eagles first-grade player, with Canberra athlete Angus Gould, who won gold in the long jump at the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games, taking third place.
Scarff started running pro events only last year after moving from Perth to Sydney and joining the Collaroy Surf Club.
He's won a national beach sprint championships, but the Queanbeyan Gift ranked among the biggest events in his racing career.
''Definitely, definitely the biggest prizemoney. A big race, obviously [against] some quality guys.''