Dominating wins by Commonwealth Games
representatives Collis Birmingham and
Kaila McKnight in their 3000m events were the
distance running highlights of the Hunter Track Classic in
Newcastle on Saturday night.
In the women's event, teenager Anna Laman (Parramatta) was the early pacemaker before world junior 1500m finalist Bridey Delaney (St George) took over. Then Commonwealth Games representative Kaila McKnight, Sydney Olympian Georgie Clarke and former world cross country representative Emma Rilen (Sydney Uni) broke away from Delaney. They pushed on to the finish with McKnight going under nine minutes andd stopping the clock at 8:58.46 to move to 19th on the Australian all-time list.
Clarke finished well to run 9:01.27 - her fifth fastest ever - while in third place Rilen smashed her personal best by seven seconds to run 9:11.3. Fourth and fifth place-getters Delaney and Belinda Martin (St George) were just outside their personal bests with times of 9:16.65 and 9:35.03.
A strong field was assembled for the men’s 3000m, headed by leading Victorian distance runner Collis Birmingham and in-form American Craig Miller. After some early pace was provided by local 800m athlete David Bradney, the lead pack was on about 7:43 pace mid-race. Commonwealth Games representative David McNeill helped out with some mid-race pacing before it was left to Birmingham, with Miller on his shoulder, to lead the race home in a meet record time of 7:50.07.
World University Cross Country silver medallist Liam Adams pipped Miller for second as both minor place-getters went under 7:55. Adams smashed his personal best clocking 7:53.79. Victorian Brenton Rowe clocked his first sub-eight minute run, with 7:57.49. Steeplechaser Youcef Abdi (Bankstown) showed solid summer form to place sixth in a good time of 8:01.95.
The powerhouse of the men’s national half-mile scene, New South Wales had its array of talent on show in Newcastle. Teenager Jesse Beadman (Blue Mountains), a 1:51 half-miler, sacrificed an opportunity to run in the B race to pace the A event. He towed the field through a first lap of 53 seconds with Matt Hammond (Easts), James Gurr (UTS Norths), Tristan Garrett (UTS Norths) and James Nipperess (Sydney Uni) in good positions. National silver medallist James Kaan (Hills) was well back in seventh. Down the back straight, Gurr, the national bronze medallist, stretched out and looked in command, but at the business end, the field lined up across the track as it became anyone’s race. Kaan gradually wore Gurr down and as they hit the line it was Kaan first, Garrett second, Hammond third and Gurr fourth, with just 0.2 separating the field.
"It took me a while to get going in the first part," said Kaan, who clocked 1:48.69.
"I was at the back and had to move up the field. I pretty much timed it perfectly. The other guys looked like they were tiring. Coming down the straight I saw the finish line and I just wanted to win it so badly and I got there in the end."
"I got checked in the first 200m, then
there was pushing in the last 100m," said Garrett, the newest
athlete to this level of 800m.
"I was blocked on the inside and had nowhere to go and so I had to go wide. I left it a little late, but it was a good opener."
"I felt fine but I just didn’t seem to have that extra gear," Gurr said.
"I haven’t done any speed work so maybe that’s why. I’m not even that tired. It just didn’t happen.
"It’s early days and I’m still in very hard training but it’s disappointing, I thought I would have run better than that."
There was as good battle in the women’s 800m with favourite Kelly Hetherington (Vic) just holding off NSW pair Sianne Toemoe (UTS Norths) and Kelly Young (Sydney Pacific), with the first two dipping under 2:06.
"I was hoping to run a bit quicker but never mind it’s still early days," said Hetherington, whose goal this season is to qualify for the World University Games.
"I just went out there to have a hard one."
Hetherington has been on the improve this
"Last year I had a bit of trouble with my appendix being taken out but this season I’m injury free," she said.
Click here for the field and sprints report from the Hunter Track Classic.
With thanks to David Tarbotton, Pat Birgan and Ron Bendall for Athletics NSW
Photo courtesy of David Tarbotton
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