A MALE and female Australian marathon champion will be crowned in less than three weeks time when the nation’s best marathoners go head-to-head at the Australian Marathon Championships as part of the 2014 Gold Coast Airport Marathon on Sunday 6 July.
The Australian Marathon Championships is set to ignite a friendly rivalry between states and territories as each team vie for the title of Australian marathon champion on one of the flattest and fastest courses in the country.
For the first time in the championship’s history, the race will be contested on an International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Road Race Gold Label course prompting one of the most exciting elite fields to toe the start line.
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Victoria are the early favourites to claim back the men’s teams based championship off Queensland with the team strengthened by a selection of potential race winners led by the experience of racing legend Lee Troop who will be aiming to finish his competitive Australian marathon career on a high note.
Troop last won the championship in 2006, which was ironically the last time the Gold Coast Airport Marathon hosted the Australia Marathon Championships, and he hopes to contribute crucial points to a state victory. His experience will be matched by the current form of fellow statesmen John Dutton and Stephen Dinneen who boast personal bests of 2:25:35 and 2:27:33 respectively.
However, the race experience of Gold Coast Airport Marathon veteran and two-time and defending IAAF Oceania Area Marathon Champion Rowan Walker will place the nation’s capital in contention. The 44-year-old Australian Capital Territory representative recorded a personal best of 2:18:01 four years ago and will be a hot favourite to land a podium finish this July.
The men’s field also includes New South Welshman Vlad Shatrov who placed a notable 22nd at the 2014 Paris Marathon in 2:25:46. Shatrov is eyeing off an opportunity to lower his personal best of 2:21:04 and run sub-2:20 on the Gold Coast.
His Queensland rival, Alastair Stevenson, is currently training with event ambassador and Australian female marathon record holder Benita Willis and is also aiming for a mid-2:20 finish. The Ipswich local will arrive on the Gold Coast with a 14km Brisbane City2South victory under his belt as well as a second place and personal best of 2:33:46 recorded on debut at the 2014 Cadbury Marathon in Tasmania.
The women’s race will be led by favourite Jane Fardell from New South Wales who boasts a quick 2:37:35 personal best recorded at the Paris Marathon last year. The 34-year-old was the 15th female to cross the line at this year’s Hamburg Marathon and is confident she can lower her time of 2:45:51on the Gold Coast this July.
Fardell will be tested by the unknown when Victorian Tarli Bird makes her marathon debut. The 27-year-old has burst on to the Australian athletics scene and has the potential to cause an upset on race day having recorded a solid half marathon personal best of 1:14:44 last year and a new 5000m personal best of 17:40.77 in April.
Queenslander Aarthi Venkatesan who has a marathon personal best of 2:51:47 recorded last year and Western Australian Nera Jerab who claimed her marathon personal best of 2:50:17 two years ago round off the women’s elite field.
Events Management Queensland CEO Cameron Hart said the Australian Marathon Championships is an exciting addition to this year’s race program and reiterated how the Gold Coast Airport Marathon is committed to encouraging and supporting distance running in Australia.
“We’re thrilled to have attracted a high quality field of Australian elite marathoners from all states and territories who will race on one of the fastest and flattest courses in the country,” said Mr Hart.
“The calibre of the elites vying for the national title is exciting and we believe there is a real potential for these marathoners to post personal best times or even Australian race records.
“The championship will also give the spectators the opportunity to display their state colours with pride and ignite the state vs state argument prevalent within all sporting codes.”
The Gold Coast Airport Marathon will be held on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 July in one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world in Queensland, Australia.
It is set to attract more than 30,000 participants of all ages and abilities across a number of events including the Gold Coast Airport Marathon, Wheelchair Marathon, ASICS Half Marathon, Wheelchair 15km, Southern Cross University 10km Run, Suncorp Bank 5.7km Challenge and Junior Dash 4km & 2km races.
For more information visit goldcoastmarathon.com.au