THRUSTING out his hand, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott conceded defeat to a wide-eyed Wagga primary school pupil after the Lake To Lagoon fun run in the city yesterday.
Headlining Wagga's famous athletic event, Abbott was quick to congratulate 10-year-old Mitchell Foster for keeping him on the backbench during the 9.5-kilometre run.
"He (Foster) was in front of me the entire way," Abbott said later. "He ran very well. He had me covered."
Creating a first for Wagga, Abbott was among the 3000 runners, walkers and riders to hit the pavement for the 41st edition of the city's famous fun run.
Hundreds lined the route to encourage the road warriors, who made the most of the sublime running conditions.
True to the fitness regime, the Liberal party heavyweight genuinely relished the chance to compete in the event almost as much as Mitchell Foster enjoyed beating him to the line.
"I just wanted to try to finish ahead of him," Foster said.
"I really enjoyed the run. I just tried to stay ahead of him."
Showing his speed and endurance, Abbott crossed the line in 46 minutes 49 seconds, barely 22 seconds behind his young Wagga shadow. Amid the organised chaos at the Civic Centre yesterday, Abbott declared the Lake To Lagoon was a "great community event".
"It was hard work, but I really enjoyed the run," Abbott said.
"The runners were great. There was a wonderful atmosphere.
"This is a great community event."
Renowned for his fitness, Abbott finished in the top half of the field and was given a rousing reception from a thousand onlookers at the end.
Abbott was mobbed by parents and children alike keen to get a photograph with the poltician.
Wagga athlete James Davy led the swarm of runners to the line, going one better than last year's second-place performance.
Recently arrived Wagga doctor Matthew Ho was second, while Caleb Noble was third.
Completing a race double, Rachel Stanton was the first woman to finish for the second year in a row.
Stanton beaten Wagga's Carmel Kahlefeldt and Jessie Wythes.