Contested annually since 1961, the ZATOPEK:10 is Australia’s premier distance event, and in 2012 will be run for the 52nd time.
Originally conceived as the 10,000m Championship for the Victorian Marathon Club, the ZATOPEK:10 was named from legendary Czech distance runner Emil Zatopek, who in Helsinki in 1952 became the only person ever to win the 5,000m, 10,000m and marathon at the one Olympics.
The ZATOPEK:10 is now one of the oldest annual races in the world, and from humble beginnings has grown to become one of the biggest events on the Australian athletics calendar.
During that time it has seen some of the all-time greats crowned as champion, including five-time winner Ron Clarke, four-time winners Steve Moneghetti, Andrew Lloyd and Luke Kipkosgei (Kenya), and two-time winner Craig Mottram, who will attempt a third title this year.
Its status as a championship event has changed significantly throughout the years, but in recent times it has served as the national championship for 10,000m.
It has also frequently played an important role in Olympic, Commonwealth Games or World Championship selection, and this year will once again double as the selection trial for next year’s World Championships in Moscow.
With Emmanuel Bett, defending ZATOPEK:10 champion and the fastest man in the world for 10,000m in 2012 and national record holder Ben St Lawrence set to do battle in this year’s race the 2012 ZATOPEK:10 is shaping as one of the most exciting races in the event’s history.
It will be the feature event of an evening of world-class athletics, which will mark the official launch of Athletics House, the headquarters of Athletics Australia, Little Athletics Australia Athletics Victoria and Little Athletics Victoria, heralding a new era of cooperation within athletics.
MEN’S 10,000m (Australian Championship) ATHLETES TO WATCH:
Emmanuel Bett (KEN)
Personal Best: 26:51.16
Fastest man in the world this year over 10,000. Narrowly missed the Kenyan Olympic team when fourth in the trial (held in Eugene, Oregon) behind Wilson Kiprop, Moses Masai and Bitan Karoki. Won last year’s Z:10 from Karoki and Beijing 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, Micah Kogo. Comes here off a cross-country win in Soria, Spain, in the opening race of the IAAF Cross-Country Permit Series.
Ben St Lawrence
Personal Best: 27:24.95
Australian 10,000 record holder. Aiming for his third-straight national title at the distance, and his first win in the Zatopek:10. Finished 20th in London Olympic final. Has represented Australia in Olympic Games, world championships, world cross-country and Commonwealth Games.
Personal Best: 28:11.76
Winner of Sydney’s famous City2Surf race past two years. One of Australia’s best at cross-country with four world championships representations under his belt. Big improvement to 28:11.76 in the US earlier this year. Will have his eyes fixed on the world championships entry standards (A-27:40/B-28:00).
Personal Best: 28:19.39
London 2012 marathon representative. Former 3000 metres steeplechaser who has also won and been placed in the national cross-country championships. Personal best for 10,000 was set in the 2009 Zatopek behind Collis Birmingham.
WOMEN’S 10,000m (Australian Championship) ATHLETES TO WATCH:
Personal best: 32:01.60
The 2008 Zatopek:10 champion, third in 2009 and second in 2010. Also winner of this year’s City2Surf road race and recently 14th in the IAAF world half-marathon championship. Improved her personal best to 32:01.60 earlier this year in the big Stanford race in the US. Looks very hard to beat.
Neely Spence (USA)
Personal best: 32:51 (road)/15:27.72 (5000 track)
Will be running her debut track 10,000 metres but comes with good form at 5000 metres – a personal best 15:27.72 in June – and on the road. She was third-fastest on the 7.195km anchor leg of the recent Chiba International Ekiden Relay, taking over for the final leg from men’s Olympic 10,000 silver medallist Galen Rupp. With a strong track and cross-country background, Spence is the daughter of 1991 world championships marathon bronze medallist Steve Spence.
Personal best: 33:16.72
Dream run through to this year’s Olympic marathon when she followed up her 2:31:02 debut at the event in Japan with 39th place in London. Has recovered conservatively from the Olympics, so may be coming into the race a touch underdone, but her record suggests a strong showing.
With thanks to Athletics Victoria
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