It’s been voted one of Australia’s favourite running events and has been embraced by the local running community, but this year is the first time the 7 Sunshine Coast Marathon has had the privilege of hosting a national title event. This year the Australian Half Marathon Championships overseen by Athletics Australia, offers elite runners the chance to duel not only for the top spot on the dais but also Priority Status for selection to compete in the green and gold at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships to be held in Valencia, Spain, 2018.
7 Sunshine Coast Marathon event director and Atlas Multisports founder Jason Crowther said the not-for-profit event had gained a reputation for being a well-organised event with ideal winter running conditions over a fast course.
“To have been given the green light to host the Australian Half Marathon Championships in our sixth year speaks volumes for the quality of the course,” Crowther said.
“The line up is the strongest of any half marathon held in Australia this year for both men and women and we expect the half marathon to be at maximum capacity with elites and amateurs, soaking up the atmosphere ready to achieve their own personal goal.”
Top runners will also be competing for a chance to win a $25,000 incentive on offer for any male or female who breaks the country’s long-standing half marathon record.
Two-time Olympian and Breaking 2 pace runner Collis Birmingham is tipped to be the runner most likely to break the men's record of 1hr01min11sec set by Pat Carroll in Sydney 23 years ago. Brisbane-based runner and last year’s women’s half marathon runner Cassie Fien will be pushed all the way by the likes of Victorian marathoner Virginia Moloney as they battle it out to break 1hr09min established by Olympian Lisa Weightman in 2010.
New course changes, which have removed four u-turns could amount to as much as a 40second saving across the already fast course.
Loops at McDonald’s Mooloolaba, Cotton Tree and Picnic Point have also been removed as the course has been extended to Fishermans Road, Maroochydore.
“That will mean significant improvement from someone going for an Australian record and for the general runners that are going to run some fast half marathon times,” Crowther said.
The Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) certified course means runners can submit their times for qualification into the Boston and New York marathons.
Leading marathoners and training partners Dion Fioncchiaro (VIC) and Andrew Kimanthi (VIC) will test their recent form over the blue ribbon 42.2km event , which is expected to sell out with a capacity of 700 runners.