There was a green and gold glow in the ASICS Half Marathon on the Gold Coast this morning as Australian runners Jack Rayner and Sinead Diver defied wet conditions to win their respective 21.1km races.
The in-form distance running duo further pressed their claims to represent Australia in the marathon at next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games with their performances against crack opposition.
Rayner, from Glen Iris in Melbourne, reigned supreme for a second time in this Gold Coast race after a good tussle with Japanese runners Yuki Sato and Yuma Hattori, making his winning break with about 1km to go.
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The 23-year-old crossed the line in 1:02:30, bettering his winning time from last year (1:03:12), but outside his personal best of 1:01:01 set in Cardiff in October.
Rayner said he was “ecstatic” with his result.
“I didn’t quite know what to expect going into it,” he said.
“There was a really strong field of Japanese this year.
“I had a race there (Japan) at the start of this year so I knew how they ran. They always go pretty hard.
“So, I knew if I tuck in behind them, get blocked out of the winds and then try and out kick in the last little bit if I was still running with them.
“I knew they would be pretty tired towards the end. A lot of people can’t run that change of pace, I knew if I had that in me I would be able to break them.”
Sato placed second in 1:02:36, only six seconds outside his PB set in May, with his countryman Hattori finishing third in 1:02:39.
Japanese runners filled places second through to eighth in the men’s race before Aussies Michael Roeger (ACT) and Andy Buchanan (VIC) completed the top 10.
After being runner-up last year, Diver went one better this year to claim her first ASICS Half Marathon in 1:09:46, the fifth fastest performance in the history of the race.
The 42-year-old from South Yarra in Melbourne was too strong for her rivals over the closing 5km leading home an Aussie trifecta in the damp conditions.
“Today was definitely a tough race, I mean the front was so strong,” Diver said.
“Myself and Ellie and Sara and Lisa ran together for quite a long time, I think I got a break around 16km and I just kind of went for it from there.
“It was super close all the way and there was a lot of rain just before 10km, which was kind of good in a way because it distracted us.
“Lisa had a few surges just before 10km, so I stuck with her for that. Myself and Ellie and Sara and Lisa were just together playing cat and mouse and then I made a break, probably around 15km and 16km and I just thought I will just got to go for it.”
Ellie Pashley (VIC) was second in 1:09:51 with three-time race winner and course-record holder Lisa Weightman (VIC) third in 1:10:32, while winner of the past two editions Sara Hall (USA) was fourth in 1:11:59.
Today’s results have continued a great year for Rayner and Diver, both having recorded 2020 Olympic marathon qualifying times and today also securing a $6,000 each winner’s purse for their efforts.
In a race within a race, the IAAF Oceania Area Marathon Championships were also won by Rayner and Diver, with Roeger and Buchanan filling the placings for the men’s title, and Pashley and Weightman for the women’s.