Tall and Spencer claim 5000m titles

Published Sun 07 Feb 2021

7 February 2021

Tall and Spencer claim 5000m titles

Kieren Tall and Kate Spencer have claimed the NSW 5000m titles for 2021. In largely tactical races, they clocked times of 13:59.23 and 16:30.30. While Tall is on the way up and continuing to impress, the stories of the night were Spencer’s return to the top of the podium and Matt Hudson’s first sub 14 minute time in placing second in the men’s race.

MEN 5000m

On paper, it was an open race with a number of well credentialled athletes capable of the win, but in the end, it came down to two Run Crew squad training partners, Kieran Tall and Matt Hudson, aged 22 and 36 respectively, who would battle for the title.

From the gun, it was a solid pace, but within the last mile it started to lag. Hudson, a two-time previous winner of the race in 2016 and 2017, was in good form after clocking a mile PB and just missing his 3000m best this summer. Despite those two wins, his 5000m PB remained over 14 minutes.

“I remember five years ago when I won this race I wanted to break 14 minutes, I’m 36 now,” said Hudson.

“Today I felt really good for that first 3000m. I was on the back of that front group and I felt really comfortable and I was searching for that sub-14, then I thought it was starting to drift, so I got to the front to try and drive it to get that sub-14.”

Kieran Tall, was also ready to make a move.

“With three laps to go, when I saw that weakness in the pack, I knew it was time to go,” said tall. “I had wanted to lead for a few laps, that is what Benny and I had talked about.”

Tall and Hudson quickly put a gap on the field, which reached 10 seconds at the finish, with Tall taking the title.

“Definitely in those last few laps to have Matt there kept me going and I knew I couldn’t let up as I knew he was right there. I actually turned back a few times. It is good to have guys to work with in a nice competitive race.”

Tall was overall pleased with his race.

“I knew I was a chance and kept it in the back of my mind. You always have those hard patches in the race, but I hung in there and knew with a few laps to go what my plan was. Matt’s been training well. We have a lot of good guys at Run Crew.”

Tall clocked 13:59.23 with Matt Hudson just 0.08 seconds under 14 minutes in a time of 13:59.92. Tall’s time was announced immediately after the race, but it took about 10 minutes before the news of his sub-14 minute run reached Hudson.

“I’m glad Kieran was there to help with the pace. His young kick at the end was too quick for me.”

The bronze medal was claimed by former Trinity Grammar student, Cameron Griffith, who was back was college in the US, in a time of 14:09.53. With seven athletes under 14:15, it was a deep race.

WOMEN 5000m

With national silver medallist Paige Campbell, returning from injury, favouritism sat squarely with Rio Olympic 1500m semi-finalists Jenny Blundell, who has been dabbling in 3000m and 5000m events this summer. After a pedestrian start, Blundell increased the tempo as the lap splits went from 90 to 80 second laps, she even reached 70 seconds on lap seven and by lap 10 was now eight seconds clear of a trailing pack of three comprising Paige Campbell (SYU), Kate Spencer (UTN) and Leanne Pompeani (BAN). But at 600m to go, Blundell precautionary withdrew with a calf issue. Fortunately, the physio was on the spot and he taped her leg, ahead of further assessment this week.

At the bell, this left Pompeani in the lead, ahead of Spencer and Campbell. But a 68 seconds last lap by Spencer would be the difference as sprinted home to victory in 16:30.30, ahead of Pompeani 16:32.72 and Campbell 16:35.83.

It was Spencer’s second win in this race, the first in 2014 as an 18-year-old.

“It is so good to be back,” said Spencer. “It is three or four years since I’ve run a good race. It is great to be getting up there again.

“I had six months or a year of injuries and time off, then I realised I really love running and I found a coach (Ben Liddy) that suited my needs and the squad have been a massive help and so supportive. They are all really good athletes themselves.”

For Campbell, who compiled a tremendous winter season, it was a good return to the track after injury slowed her early-summer.

It was a good run in fourth place by teenager Imogen Gardiner (UTN), who clocked 16:53.38 on debut at the distance.

MEN 800m

There were a number of support event, but the men’s 800m was outstanding. Winner Lachlan Raper, 21 (SYU), smashed his PB going under 1:49 and 1:48 for the first time as he clocked 1:47.97 – the second fastest 800m time in Australia this summer.

The 2018 World U20 Championships competitor had been stuck in the 1:49s, running them on six occasions, but yesterday was a major breakthrough.

It feels so good, I’m lost for words,” he said. “I think a lot of it was the squad, I doubted myself that I could get back up, I never thought about quitting or stopping and I think that is because of the coaching. Ben Liddy always believed in me.”

The race was also deep in quality with four under 1:50, including Raper’s training partner Ben Quinn in a PB 1:49.55. In fifth 17-year-old Josh Atkinson ran 1:51.77 and in sixth ACT 15-year-old Hayden Todd a PB 1:52.53.

In the women’s 800m, Ivy Boothroyd, just 14, ran a PB 800m time of 2:08.45. Training partners Izzy Thornton-Bott and 17-year-old Nicola Hogg went one-two in the 1500m, with Thornton-Bott clocking 4:22.73 and Hogg a four seconds PB time of 4:22.90.

David Tarbotton for Athletics NSW

Image: Kate Spencer on the way to victory in the women’s 5000m championship (image courtesy of David Tarbotton)