Olympian eyes running prize
TWO-time Olympian Collis Birmingham has his eyes on the prize, a $25,000 reward at this year’s Sunshine Coast half marathon.
The 32-year-old is eager to set the fastest time by an Australian on Australian soil, when he contests the 21.1km event at Alexandra Headland in August.
Should he better the 1994 effort of Pat Carroll (1hr 01min 11sec) he’ll snare the lucrative purse which is being dangled by organisers, who want the event to be known as ‘Australia’s fastest half marathon’.
And given he has recorded a quicker time overseas (an Australian record of 1hr 56sec, on a flat course at Marugame, Japan, in 2013) Birmingham has reason to believe he can achieve it.
“That definitely gives me some confidence,” he said.
“It would be nice to get up there and give it a crack and see if I can do it. It’s going to be tough... but there’s plenty of incentive.”
Collis is yet to do a half marathon on home soil but has competed in many overseas.
He competed at the Games in 2008 and in 2012, on the track, but he’s looking to qualify for next year’s Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast via the marathon (42.2km).
The McDonald’s Sunshine Coast half marathon is part of his preparation to his first marathon later this year, which he hopes will help earn him a berth in the national team.
“I think I’ll be pretty fresh for the (Sunshine Coast) race... I’m certainly taking it seriously,” he said.
Defending women’s champion Cassie Fien is returning for the event, which is part of the 7 Sunshine Coast Marathon and Community Running Festival. The reward is also on offer for the women, with the mark belonging to Lisa Weightman (1hr 09 min, 2010).
Collis expects more elite runners to be attracted to the race because of the money on offer.
Long-distance runner Collis Birmingham.