The Elite Field is introduced to the crowd at the races.
The Elite Field is introduced to the crowd at the horse races.

Australia’s richest mile, The Leonora Golden Gift elite men’s and women’s finals are both set to be highly contested titles today in Leonora, Western Australia.

Despite the wet conditions the Leonora crowd came out in force last night to witness some of Australia’s best middle distance runners battle it out down the town’s main street, 3 lap, one mile course.

On a rainy night, with a lively crowd watching, the athletes spirits were not dampened as they set out in chase of glory and gold.

With a straight final in the women’s race, the 8 person heat was run with lap winning bonuses to entice the athletes and ignite the crowd. This proved the ingredients for a truely entertaining race.

The only women’s heat was won by the 2013 Australian Cross Country Champion and in form runner, Bridey Delaney. From the onset Delaney provided a pace the rest of the field couldn’t match. Over the 3 lap course, Delaney maneuvered through the challenging turnarounds in the wet with precision, leading every lap to grab to lap leading race bonuses. Delaney is the clear favourite to claim a prestigious victory in today’s final.

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The twelve man men’s field lined up in two elimination heats with the top two finishers and next two fastest times going through.

Heat 1 saw two time Olympian, Jeff Riseley advance through, but not without being pushed by Victoria’s rising star Matt Clarke. Australian World Junior Cross Country representative, Charlie Hunter (VIC), finish a galant 3rd with a time of 4:45.5.

With the heat 2 men knowing the time (4:45.5) they needed to go under to get all 6 men into the final, last year’s winner Zak Patterson and 2016 National 800m finalist, Peter Bol pushed the pace and brought complete field home under the qualifying time. Andre Waring from Dinneen Runners in Victoria, finished 6th with 4:41 (Q).

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Off last nights form, rising middle distance star, Peter Bol looks like he’ll be giving 2014’s Golden Gift winner, Jeff Riseley a real run for his money. With Zak Paterson also looking in rock solid form, this year’s elite men’s final may be one of the closest races ever. There is no doubt an upset may be looming, but the resilient veteran, Riseley will not be beaten without a super human effort from one of his young challengers.

Stay tuned to Runner’s Tribe and our social media channels for updates and results.

This year RT will also be premiering a short film on the Golden Gift, which is gradually becoming one of the most iconic road races in the world with 17 different Olympians running the event over the years.

The finals are set to start at 2:15pm (AWST).

Finals-

Women’s Elite Final

Bridey Delaney
Melinda Witchard
Jessica Ronan
Charlotte Wilson
Abigail Rose
Phoebe Lawes

Men’s Elite Final

Jeff Riseley
Matt Clarke
Zak Patterson
Peter Bol
Stewart McSweyn
Douglas Hamerlock
Chris Dale
Andre Waring

 

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