5 May 2019
St Lawrence leads home record field in Sydney10
Running is booming in NSW and that was never more evident with a 60% increase in the entry numbers for the 2019 Sydney10 held on Saturday at Homebush where just under 2000 athletes competed. There were also performance records galore led by Ben St Lawrence’s outstanding 29:01 to win the men’s 10km race and claim the NSW road championship. The women were also quick with Emily Brichacek winning in 32:34.
A last-minute course adjustment, due to road access changes, rated the course a little faster than in previous years and the athletes took advantage of that. The women’s race was close throughout with Canberra-based world cross country team mates Emily Brichacek (SYU) and Leanne Pompeani (ACT), joined by SA’s Casey Wood in a pack of about six athletes over the first lap. During the final few kilometres Brichacek caught four-time race champion, Russell Dessaix-Chin (SYU) and sat on his heels over the final stages. She had also move away from Pompeani and Wood who remained together to the finish where just four seconds separated them with Pompeani taking silver in 33:00, and Wood on 33:04. Brichacek’s time was super quick recording 32:34, a time only bettered by Michelle Dillon (SUH) 32:25 in 1994 and Lara Tamsett (SYU) 32:27 in 2011 in the NSW Championship race held over 10km since 1992 on five different course. Rio Olympic triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen (USA) ran a quicker 32:12 on the old Homebush course in 2015, defeating Eloise Wellings (SUH) who ran 32:53 – the fastest Australian on the old Homebush course.
Brichacek, 28, has enjoyed a very impressive 12 months since she just missed Commonwealth Games selection. Last December she placed a brilliant third (Australian) at Zatopek in a massive 52 seconds PB time of 32:22.38. Unfortunately, the standard in women’s 10,000m is currently strong with a couple of marathoners adding to the depth.
The men’s race was no contest with defending champion, Ben St Lawrence (Run Crew) making his intentions clear from the start.
“I’m definitely a lot fitter than I was last year and rather than run a tactical race really I wanted see exactly what shape I am in,” said St Lawrence, Australia’s 10,000m record holder on the track.
“I went hard from the gun and was on track for something well under 29 (minutes) and had a couple of rough Ks there and finished just over 29 and I’m very happy. It is one of the fastest road 10ks I’ve ever run.”
How does he account for his good form?
“I have had a years of consistent training since this time last year and run some good races”
It is fair to say his last quality race was the 10,000m at the Rio Olympics, but it has been a rough couple of years since for the now 37-year-old.
“I had some injury issues in 2016 and 2017 and it is very hard to run well if you can’t get that consistency behind you. I’ve always loved running and didn’t want to stop, but I was almost forced to stop there for a little while in ‘16, ’17. There is a lot of people out there running well into their late ‘30s and early ‘40s and I’m inspired to keep going as long as I love it.”
He has never been far from the sport.
“Being a coach out there with Run Crew it has kept me very well connected with the sport. I love it and will keep running for as long as I can.”
Now in great form, does he have a goal?
“I am definitely working towards the Gold Coast marathon. A lot of strength type training and trying to get a little more mileage under the belt but maintain a bit of speed and today shows I’m on track.
“I would like to put myself in content for selection for Tokyo, whether that happens or not I won’t be devastated if it doesn’t but I want to give myself a chance at the marathon and I’d like to run Zatopek at the end of the year and put myself in with a chance in the 10,000m as well.”
Gold Coast will not be his marathon debut, having run 2:24 two years ago.
“I ran Berlin in 2017 and I wasn’t quite prepared for that one and it was a rough final 10 to 12ks so hopefully Gold Coast will be a better experience and I will be able to decide after Gold Coast if I want to pursue the marathon more or whether I switch back to the track 10k.”
After a warm down, St Lawrence was back out on the course where dozens o his Run Crew squad were competing.
“Now I’ve finished my race, I’m going to now go and put the coaches’ hat on and watch the 5k.”
Second home in the men’s race was Kieren Tall (UTN) with James Nipperess (SYU third).
In the wheelchair race, Luke Bailey (MIN) blitzed the field in a time of 27:23, with Rosemary Little the first woman home in 34:18.
It was a close battle in the boys 5km with Sam Rockliff (ASW) defeating Luke Hince 15:43 to 15:44. Sam’s sister, Abbey was second in the girls race to world cross country star Lauren Carey (SGD) 16:54 to 17:11.
In the Little Athletics 2km race, Dane Mitchell won the boys race in 6:21, while Sienna Scahill taking the girls event in 6:53.
David Tarbotton for Athletics NSW
Image: Ben St Lawrence (image courtesy of David Tarbotton)