No less than 12 Olympians have confirmed as starters for the new look 2020 Launceston Running Festival.
With 2020 being known as the year of the cancellation, the Launceston Running Festival has been a beacon of hope for the Australian distance running scene. Seemingly the one-off summer edition of the event has played into the cards of organisers, who have attracted a world class line up for the event which is traditionally held on the June long weekend.
While the C5 Pro-Solutions 10km event has attracted arguably its best ever field in both the men’s and women’s, the Thing Big Half Marathon is also shaping up to be an eye turner.
Australian half marathon record holder Brett Robinson will start favourite for the men’s half marathon. The Rio Olympian ran 59minutes 57seconds in Marugame in Japan earlier this year and also owns the fastest 10km road times on Australian soil each of the past two years in winning the Hobart Run The Bridge.
He will face stiff competition from stable mate Joel Tobin-White who is hunting for a an improvement on his lifetime best of 62:03, along with recently crowned NSW 10,000 champion Ed Goddard and half marathon debutant Sam McEntee.
The women’s race will see Canadian half marathon record holder Andrea Seccafien continue her rivalry with local star Milly Clark. The pair had a sprint finish at Hobart Run The Bridge in February with Seccafien winning on Castray Esplanade. Jess Stenson (nee Trengove) is also a confirmed starter and she winds up her attempt to make her third straight Olympics.
“I never thought I’d sleep in my own bed the night before my biggest race of 2020. But here we are and I’m looking forward to trying to set a PB on the new half marathon course,” Milly Clark said.
“Locals really seemed to have embraced it. Everyone I talk to around Launceston is getting really excited to host such a major running event, in what’s been such a rough year for everyone,” Clark added.
In the traditional 10km distance, it’s almost a who’s who of Australian distance running royalty. The men see’s past winners Ben St Lawrence, Dave McNeill, Jack Rayner and Liam Adams, plus defending Burnie 10 champion Jordy Williamsz and past winner Ryan Gregson. In all, a staggering 20 men with personal bests under 30minutes for 10km will line up.
Australia’s second fastest ever 10,000m runner, Ben St Lawrence, is bringing down a large contingent of his Run Crew training squad that he coaches in Sydney.
“As soon as we heard the Launceston Running Festival was on and that the borders were most likely going to be open - we jumped straight online and booked. There’s a huge group of us from Run Crew coming down to make the most of the opportunity to race on a fast course in what looks set to be a very deep field,” St Lawrence said.
Now spoilt for choice, he’s trying to decide which event to do.
“I had originally entered the 10k, but am now considering the 1/2 Marathon. We can’t wait!” he confirmed.
The women’s 10km is equally loaded, with running royalty lining up. Course record holder Sinead Diver returns, along with dual Olympic finalists Eloise Wellings and Genevieve Gregson.
Olympic 5000m silver medallist from the Sydney Olympics, Sonia O’Sullivan, is also looking forward to the challenge of racing a fast course. Still in amazing shape, even at the age of 51 on race day, she’ll take some catching.
Already 149 entrants are coming from outside of Tasmania, giving a welcome tourist bump ahead of Christmas.
There are four events on offer for the December 13 event;
Entries are open at www.launcestonrunnningfestival.com.au
Full elite fields are;
Ben St Lawrence
Ben St Lawrence
Tom Do Canto