Anticipation is building ahead of this Sunday’s Melbourne Marathon. There is a strong men’s line up including Australia’s Rio Olympian Liam Adams, but with Australia’s form female road runner, Sinead Diver on the start line just what will her string of domestic performances over 10km, 12km and 21km translate into over the 26-mile distance.
This year, aged 41, these seems to be no limit to Sinead Diver’s progression. After running a 5000m track PB in February, then next month she placed 23rd at the World Half Marathon Championships in a then PB of 71:40. Since then she has twice smashed that mark, taking a total of 2:20 minutes from her best to record 69:20 minutes, a world masters record and claim the Australian title. Over 10km (31:59) in Launceston and 12km (37:54) in Adelaide she has run times not seen by Aussies for nearly a decade.
"I was really looking forward to racing this weekend but conditions aren't looking great at the moment unfortunately. I'm a bit disappointed as I was hoping to run a fast time. Training has been going really well though and I'm definitely ready to race, so we'll see what happens on the day," Diver said.
Her run on Sunday will be the seventh marathon of her career after her debut in 2014. It is her first marathon for 11 months and her third outing in the Melbourne Marathon. The two-time world championships marathon representative (2015 & 2017), has a PB of 2:31.37, set last year. Her coach, Tim Crosbie, considers her current form indicates a time of 2:27 to 2:29 is possible in reasonable conditions. Just 10 Aussie women have run a sub-2:30 marathon.
To assist Sinead with some pacing to about the 30km mark, she has recruited some impressive assistance, Australia’s newly crowned Commonwealth Half marathon champion, Jack Rayner. Lisa Weightman’s race record is 2:26.05.
"I only accept Comm Games champions as my pacers so Jack was cutting it fine but made it just in time. Haha nah, I'm really lucky to have him pacing me!
"He's been doing so well this year and really knocked it out of the park at Cardiff last weekend. He’s a very talented road runner so I know he'll do a great job pacing me on Sunday. We haven't locked in an exact distance yet but he'll stick with me for as long as he feels comfortable.
In the men’s race it looks a three-way battle between 2013 & 2014 champion and race record holder Dominic Ondoro (Ken), Perth-based defending champion Isaac Birir of Kenya, and local athlete Liam Adams who ran his PB of 2:12.52, just 13 months ago.
Others to watch are: Kenyan 2:08 athlete William Chebon Chebor who has been in 2:16 form over the last year, Japan’s Saeki Makino who ran 2:15.22 in 2015 and Sydney’s Matt Cox who was third in 2017 in a time of 2:18.
Another highlight is the attempt by Paralympian Michael Roeger on a world record in Melbourne. Despite some health issues this year, in preparation for Melbourne he raced brilliantly for third in a qualify field in the Australian 12km Road Running Championships last month. With no Para-Athletics world championships until late 2019, Roeger, the T46 (arm amp) world 1500m and 5000m record holder has stepped up the mileage this year and will target both the T46 (2:26.44) and ambulant (2:21.33) para world marathon records.
The half-marathons also have strong line ups, including: Brett Robinson (VIC, PB 64:00), Brad Croker (ACT, PB 65:38), Brad Milosevic (NSW, PB 65:13), Camille Buscomb (NZL, PB 74:20), Melanie Panayiotou (QLD, PB 76:41) and Jayne Grebinski (CAN, PB 77:46).
The last of the major Australian city marathons for 2018, the event includes a half-marathon, 10km and 5km runs, along with a 3km walk. There is still time to enter at melbournemarathon.com.au
David Tarbotton, with Tim Crosbie for Athletics Australia