Three-time Olympian Benita Willis and Australian Flame Collis Birmingham will headline the Australian contingent at the Great Australian Run on Sunday as part of the Australian Road Running Championships.
Held in conjunction with Sunday’s run, the Australian Road Running Championships is an Athletics Australia nominated event in which the male and female Australian Road Running Champions are crowned across 15km.
Birmingham, who is looking to assert his dominance of middle distance running ahead of the Australian athletics season, will face off with a number of Australia’s best runners including fellow Australian Flame Scott Westcott and Martin Dent and looks forward to the challenge.
“Falls Creek altitude training has been really good to me of late, I’ve been ticking along just doing the same things as normal but another year has past and I’m another year stronger,” he said
“It’s been a really good year for me with personal bests across the board so 2009 has made me even more confident in my ability to compete”
“I’m hoping to finish the year in the same way I started it with a PB on Sunday to top my 43:35 last year.”
Commonwealth Games and Olympic representative Willis will be joined in the women’s event by Chiba Ekiden Relay team members Lisa Flint and Nikki Chapple whom returned from the Japan event under a week ago.
“I don’t get many opportunities to run against world best in Australia so the race on Sunday will be fantastic and something I’m really looking forward to,” she says.
“The field is wide open with a mix of fantastic internationals like Helen Clitheroe but also up and coming Australian athletes like Nikki Chapple and winner of the Melbourne Marathon Lisa Flint.”
Marathon heavyweight Stefano Baldini declared his excitement about being involved in Sunday’s race on the back of a footy training session with the Carlton Blues yesterday.
“I had a fun day with Carlton F.C yesterday but today I’m looking toward the weekend,” he said.
“The secret of distance running is to be ready when it matters and I think I am ready.”
Despite the late withdrawal of Irina Mikitenko as a result of injury, the event continues to boast a world class field inclusive of fourteen Olympians including Sydney Olympic gold medallist and Australian icon Cathy Freeman.
Freeman is also joined by a number of local celebrities as well as thousands of recreational runners looking for their opportunity to run alongside the world’s best athletes.
The event will be televised live on Channel 10 and ONE HD from 8:30am.
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