Defending champion Sara Hall and 2:25 marathon runner Laura Thweatt will lead a two-pronged United States attack in the ASICS Half Marathon on the Gold Coast next Sunday 1 July.
Hall, who won the race last year in 1:10:30, is the top seed and will arrive on the Gold Coast in cracking form following a marathon personal best (PB) of 2:26:20 in Ottawa, Canada last month.
The 35-year-old, who also placed second in the race in 2015, will be striving to better her half marathon PB of 1:09:37 as well as claim the winner’s spoils of AUD 6,000 plus time bonuses.
Her compatriot Thweatt, coached by Australian distance running legend and Gold Coast Marathon ambassador Lee Troop (a previous winner of the ASICS Half Marathon), is also in good form having run a 10K PB of 32:20 in Ottawa.
Thweatt is a highly accomplished marathon runner having run 2:28:23 on debut in the New York City Marathon in 2015 and clocking a PB of 2:25:38 in last year’s London Marathon.
With the likely strong competition at the front of the field in good Gold Coast conditions, the 29-year-old may leave next Sunday with a new PB under 1:11:02.
The US duo won’t have it their own way with a Japanese runner out to add to her country’s 22 winners (6 men, 16 women) in the history of the ASICS Half Marathon.
Hanae Tanaka has the fastest half marathon PB in the race (1:09:18 set in 2013) as well as solid form this year highlighted by a sixth placing in the Nagoya Women’s Marathon in March in 2:27:40.
Australia’s Sinead Diver and Ellie Pashley won’t be without a chance to add to a stellar home country honour roll in the 21.1km race.
Diver (1:11:40) and Pashley (1:11:43) both set PBs at the World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia in March and have enjoyed a progressive past 12 months.
Diver set a marathon PB of 2:31:37 in Nagoya last year and, since then, has recorded her best times for 10km on the road, 5000m and 10,000m on the track, and the half marathon.
The 40-year-old runner has also been a podium finisher twice in the ASICS Half Marathon, placing second in 2014 and third in 2016.
Following a similar improvement curve, 29-year-old Pashley clocked a marathon PB of 2:35:55 in Berlin last year and followed that up with best performances over 5000m, 10km on the road and the half marathon.
She also has course experience on the Gold Coast finishing sixth last year at her first attempt.
If Diver or Pashley can break the tape next Sunday, they will join a long list of Aussie female winners of the race such as Lisa Ondieki, Kerryn McCann, Lisa Weightman and Eloise Wellings.
In the ASICS Half Marathon for men, Australia has another good chance to record a victory with World Half Marathon Championships representative Collis Birmingham, previous Gold Coast race winner Liam Adams and a couple of potential bolters in Jack Rayner and Joel Tobin-White.
One of Australia’s most versatile male distance runners of recent years, Birmingham will be making his Gold Coast debut.
The 33-year-old from Victoria has a half marathon PB of 1:00:56 from 2013 which sits him third in the Australian all-time rankings behind Darren Wilson and Steve Moneghetti.
In March at the World Half Marathon Championships, Birmingham clocked 1:03:44 which places his season’s best ahead of countryman Adams who clocked 1:05:36 for second in last month’s Sydney Half Marathon.
The 31-year-old set his PB of 1:03:28 when he won the ASICS Half Marathon in 2012, however wasn’t far off that mark last year (1:03:49) when he finished second in this race.
Adams was a gallant performer on the Gold Coast recently too, finishing fifth in the Commonwealth Games marathon.
The runner who beat Adams in the Sydney Half Marathon was 24-year-old Tobin-White
Another in-form Aussie is Rayner, 22, who broke an 11-year-old race record to win the Launceston 10K in 28:32 earlier this month.
Like the women’s race, the previous winner’s list is a who’s who of Australian distance running with names such as Pat Carroll, Andrew Lloyd, Steve Moneghetti, Darren Wilson, Lee Troop, Martin Dent, Jeff Hunt, Michael Shelley and Adams all featuring.
One of the international runners hoping to spoil an Australian party in the men’s race is William Chebor of Kenya, the 2009 winner of the Gold Coast Marathon.
Whilst not in the form of nine years ago, the 35-year-old Chebor has run 2:21:32 in the Chongqing Marathon in China this year and 2:16:08 last year in Kaohsiung, Taipei.
In both the men’s and women’s races, Australian athletes are likely to fight out the podium placings in the IAAF Oceania Area Half Marathon Championships. New Zealand’s best chances will be Aaron Pulford and Caden Shields in the men’s race.
ASICS Half Marathon Top 5 Seeds
- William Chebor (KEN) 1:00:49
- Collis Birmingham (AUS) 1:00:56
- Liam Adams (AUS) 1:03:28
- Nick Earl (GBR) 1:04:52
- Brad Milosevic (AUS) 1:04:53
- Sara Hall (USA) 1:09:37
- Hanae Tanaka (JPN) 1:09:18
- Laura Thweatt (USA) 1:11:02
- Sinead Diver (AUS) 1:11:40
- Ellie Pashley (AUS) 1:11:43
Men – Benson Masya (KEN) – 1:01:16 –
Women – Lisa Jane Weightman (AUS) – 1:09:00 – 2010
Men: 2 – Martin Dent (AUS), Jeff Hunt (AUS), Patrick Nyangelo (TAN)
Women: 3 – Lisa Jane Weightman (AUS), Takako Kotarida (JPN)
ASICS Half Marathon Fastest Performances
- Benson Masya (KEN) 1:01:16 | 1992
- Steve Moneghetti (AUS) 1:01:48 | 1993
- Tadesse Gebre (ETH) 1:01:48 | 1993
- Stephen Mayaka (KEN) 1:01:58 | 1994
- Dickson Marwa (TAN) 1:02:09 | 2009
- Lisa Weightman (AUS) 1:09:00 | 2010
- Midori Fumoto (JPN) 1:09:38 | 1992
- Lisa Ondieki (AUS) 1:09:43 | 1988
- Takako Kotorida (JPN) 1:10:03 | 2002
- Eloise Wellings (AUS) 1:10:10 | 2015
Comments from last year’s winner Sara Hall:
“It felt very redemptive to run a personal best in Ottawa after all the hard training I had done in the winter, followed by a difficult period of cross training and rehabilitation for my SI joint injury in March. I was heartbroken to have not made the start line for the Boston Marathon, which is what all my training had been geared towards, but Ottawa gave me a goal to refocus on.
“I am really loving the half and full marathon training right now and feel I have more room to improve. I’ve been able to get in some good half marathon specific work since Ottawa and put in three solid weeks of training before I started backing off for the
“My goal is definitely to run faster than last year in the ASICS Half Marathon. I enjoy the half marathon more than the full marathon at the moment so I’m excited to try to put together a good one, and the Gold Coast is my favourite place to do that. I love the course, the weather is great, and I have felt inspired and had a lot of fun both times I’ve run it. Starting in the dark and then seeing the sun coming up over the Broadwater is really unique.”
Comments from Cameron Hart, Events Management Queensland CEO
“The ASICS Half Marathon will provide a fitting start to Sunday’s race program that culminates with the 40th edition Gold Coast Marathon.
“The fields for the ASICS Half Marathon are fast with a strong group of international runners from the United States, Japan, Kenya, Great Britain and New Zealand, while Australian athletes have a great chance to claim a couple of wins on home roads.”
The 40th edition Gold Coast Marathon will feature eight races including the Gold Coast Marathon, Wheelchair Marathon, ASICS Half Marathon, Wheelchair 15km, Southern Cross University 10km Run, Gold Coast Airport Fun Run, Garmin 4km Junior Dash and Garmin 2km Junior Dash.
The Gold Coast Marathon is organised by Events Management Queensland, a major event management company wholly owned by the Queensland Government as part of Tourism and Events Queensland.