Olympian eyes run­ning prize

Multisport Mecca - - News - Steele Tay­lor steele.tay­lor@sc­news.com.au

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.

PHOTO: DAVID J. PHILLIP

Long-dis­tance run­ner Col­lis Birm­ing­ham.

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