In a quinella for Australia, Nikki Chapple and Benita Willis placed first and second respectively in this morning’s Great Australian Run and also the Australian Road Running Championships.
Chapple, who competed only days after returning from the Chiba Ekiden Relay in Japan, was thrilled with the victory in a time of 50:19 admitting that it was not something that she had expected given it was her first attempt at the 15km distance.
“I haven’t won a road race before so that was great,” she said.
“It’s hard to say how impressive the time was though as I haven’t competed across 15km before so there isn’t anything to compare it to but it’s a good result in the lead up to Zatopek.”
Three-time Olympian, Willis surged into second in a time of 51:15 to finish ahead of third place getter Helen Clitheroe of Great Britain after trailing behind the leaders in the middle stages of the race.
“I’m happy with how I finished today and that I regained composure to salvage second was a real positive out of the race,” she said
“It was a good field and great for Australian running as Nikki (Chapple) provided the benchmark so it will be great to run against her again at Zatopek.”
“I still have a long way to come before my best form but I am getting there”
Austrian Guenther Weidlinger took out the men’s race in a time of 43:01 followed across the line by Australian Flame Collis Birmingham (43:19) and Martin Dent (44:00).
Weidlinger, who has been training with a large contingent of Australian runners at Falls Creek for the past few weeks, was surprised by his performance and humble in admitting it was never a secured victory until the latter stages of the race.
“I didn’t believe that I could win until the last kilometre,” he said.
“Collis (Birmingham) was only thirty or forty metres behind me and if I had blown out my time in the last kilometre I definitely could have finished behind him.”
“Today was one of my biggest victories with two Olympic champions and the European champion in Martinez (Jose Manuel Martinez) finishing behind me so I couldn’t be happier.”
Birmingham rounded out the year with yet another personal best time of 43:19 and secured the Australian Road Running Championships after being the first local to cross the finish line.
“It was a good run by Guenther and I was very happy with my race”
“It was one of my biggest runs to have the likes of Sammy Wanjiru behind me and with that time I couldn’t be happier.”
“Unlike last year, I won’t be training to hard leading into Zatopek making sure that I’ll be ready to go at that event”
In a surprise, Kenyan Sammy Wanjiru crossed the line fourth in a time of 44:20.
Wanjiru, the Beijing Olympic gold medallist, fell behind the two leaders mid way through the 15km course before being overtaken by Australian marathon runner Martin Dent in the latter stages of the event.
Results for the Australian Road Running Championships, held as part of this morning’s event, are as follows:
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