The Australian Half Marathon Championships are just under two weeks away, with Sunday August 19 the day that runners tackle the fast and scenic course around Maroochydore and Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast.
Two-time Olympian Collis Birmingham (VIC) will be looking to defend his national title on the same course as last year, when he won in 1:03.15.
The 33-year-old will be up against the form runner of the winter season Jack Rayner (VIC) who beat Birmingham on July 1 to take out the Gold Coast Half Marathon in 1:03.12, Birmingham was fourth (second Australian) in 1:04.28. Rayner, 22, has also won four 10 kilometre events this winter season, including the Sydney Harbour 10K when he ran 28:59.
Birmingham, who is the third fastest Australian in history over the half-marathon (1:00.56 in Japan, 2013), knows Rayner will be tough to beat but won’t give us his title without a fight.
“Jack’s going great,” Birmingham said. “I’m definitely hoping to be more competitive than I was at the Gold Coast. “My prep has been going well, after an up and down few months after World Half Marathon. I have been able to string together some good training and a few races over the last eight weeks.”
Event organisers have offered a $25,000 incentive to the first Australian male or female who breaks the record for the fastest half marathon run in Australia. The men’s record of 1:01:11 was set in 1994 by Pat Carroll.
“We’ll give it a shot. It’s a great time, it’s not a simple task. But Jack’s in career best form so why not have a crack. I’ll try and draw on some of my experience also.”
Birmingham now juggles his training with working in the building industry and is enjoying the challenge.
“I’m loving it, it is difficult and I have to be organised, but I have a good boss who enjoys running which really helps. He’s running the Sunshine Coast Half Marathon also. It’s a choice I made, so I don’t have any regrets.”
Two-time world championship marathon representative Sinead Diver (VIC) will start as favourite for the women’s national title. Diver was the first Australian in the Gold Coast Half, when she was second in 1:09.51 and last weekend she again showed great form to win the Sydney 10K in 32:43. Lisa Weightman’s 2010 record time of 69 mins could be under threat.
“I’m excited about racing Nationals in a couple of weeks. If conditions are good I’d like to try and improve on my time from the Gold Coast this year,” Diver said.“The field is looking strong so I’m looking forward to a fast race.”
Meriem Daoui (TAS) will definitely be one to watch. The 19-year-old nursing student from Hobart was the top female in the 18-20 category at the Gold Coast Half and 12th overall. She was born in Morocco and is making great improvement with every race she runs.
Organisers are expecting large numbers of entries to make the most of the ideal running conditions. While spectators get a winter escape on the beautiful Sunshine Coast.
“We’re proud and excited to be hosting the Australian Half Marathon Championships and the country’s best elite distance runners for a second year, as we believe it’s one of the country’s fastest and most scenic courses,” Sunshine Coast Marathon event director Jason Crowther said.
In 2017 the top 10 males broke the half marathon course record and 50 per cent of all participants stated they had run a personal best time in post-event surveys.
There will also be a non-Australian championship marathon, 10km, 5km and 2km run on the Sunday. Entries are still open for the event. Go to https://www.sunshinecoastmarathon.com.au/ for more information.