Port Stephens Sister Cities runners from Bellingham and Tateyama to take part in Winery Running Festival

Seven runners from Bellingham and Tateyama are being shown the sites of their sister city Port Stephens before taking part in a Hunter Valley marathon on Sunday.

Joy Love, Sierra Brisky, Wendy Wixson and Holly Graham from Bellingham (Washington State in the US) plus Miyuki Iida, Yohei Kakahari and Ron Miyatake from Tateyama (Japan) landed in Australia on Thursday.

The highlight of their five-day stay, hosted by the Port Stephens Sister Cities Committee, be the Winery Running Festival on July 22.

“The runners are really excited about discovering the Hunter Valley close up and checking out our wineries,” Port Stephens Sister Cities Committee chairman Nigel Dique said. “I think it will also add an international dimension to the event.”

Mr Dique paid tribute to running group Nelson Bay Hash House Harriers who are providing home hosting and transport to the visitors.

During their stay, the seven runners will have the opportunity to experience the Port’s attractions such as whale watching, sand boarding and Oakvale Wildlife Park.

As an official welcome to Port Stephens, the group met mayor Ryan Palmer and council general manager Wayne Wallis in Raymond Terrace on Friday morning.

“This visit is one of ongoing exchanges celebrating our 30th anniversary,” Mr Dique said.

“Earlier this month 16 young women dancers from Bellingham performed over a week at seven Port Stephens Schools.

“The role of sister cities organisations is to arrange sporting, cultural and educational exchanges leading to friendships and understanding between nations, and word peace.

“We hope this will be the first of regular visits by runners from our sister cities in Japan and the US.”