Zatopek Legacy – Patrick Tiernan

Patrick Tiernan’s rise to distance running royalty has been meteoric over the last 2 years, but the Toowoomba native has been busy building an impressive athletic resume since the grand old age of 11.

Winning the Australian Cross Country Championships in 2005, the humble Victoria Park Race Course played host to a number of future Australian representatives, with a Victorian Under 20 team winning a national title with a perfect score, made possible by the likes of Toby Rayner, Liam Adams, David McNeill, Brenton Rowe and Steve Kelly – all of whom wore a green and gold singlet at a junior or senior representative level.

Tiernan quietly reminded the distance running community of his potential as a 17 year old, running 30:34 in a 10 kilometre road race on the Gold Coast, a subtle sign of things to come, as Tiernan won 2012 Australian Under 20 titles in the 1500m (3:50.67) and 5000m (14:40.59) events before departing for the famed Villanova University distance program.

It was in Villanova, Pennsylvania that the Queenslander’s prominence would rocket to international notice, a combination of results throughout the 2013-14 season indicated Tiernan was racing with maturity well beyond his years. A debut appearance at the NCAA National Cross Country Championships saw the youngster finish 9th in a field of over 200 athletes, with conditions requiring the start line to be moved due to inclement weather.

Building on a promising cross country season, Tiernan qualified for the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships, finishing 7th and 6th respectively – this was a pattern that would become all too familiar in the coming years.

Tiernan departed Villanova with personal bests of 3:45.43 (1500m), 7:48.55 (3000m) and 13:25.78 (5000m) and an NCAA Cross Country title, having competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics whilst still a college student.

Tiernan’s development post-collegiately has been similarly rapid, with appearances at the IAAF World Championships in both the 5,000m (11th) and 10,000m (22nd), displaying a proficiency over the longer distances causing statisticians nationwide to hone their editing skills.

A 13th place finish at the IAAF World Cross Country Championship was an exhibition in patience amongst unbridled chaos, on a 2km looped course, Tiernan progressed throughout the race from 35th through 2km, to 26th, 23rd, to 19th with a lap remaining, ultimately finishing as the first non-African athlete in 13th, one position behind Leonard Komon (15km WR holder) and 3 places ahead of World and Olympic marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich.

Ranked 3rd, 3rd and 4th respectively across 3000m, 5000m and 10,000m on all-time Australian lists, boasting personal bests of 7:37.76, 13:13.44 and 27:29.81, the 23-year old is now an established regular on the Diamond League circuit. The defending Zatopek:10 champion following a brutal series of accelerations over the final 12 laps of the 2016 race, Tiernan will enter the 2017 event quietly confident in his preparation, with an eye on a home-state Commonwealth Games berth.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – 08 DECEMBER 2016: Patrick Tiernan wins the Zatopek 10 Australian 10,000m race during the Zatopek 10 Australian 10,000m Championships on December 8, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

When did you first hear about the Zatopek race?

The first Zatopek race I remember hearing about was 2008, when Dave McNeill sprinted away from Bobby Curtis and Michael Shelley. I saw the result in an R4YL magazine, and recognized Shelley’s name after seeing him at a lot of road races in Queensland. From then on, I would always look at the results of the race the day after it was run, and said to myself that I’d run it one day. The first time I actually went to the meet was last year when I competed in the main event.

Why did you first run the Zatopek 10,000m event?

The timing was perfect for me; I’d just come off of the NCAA cross country season, and had no more eligibility for Villanova. It was also the first step for me in qualifying for the World Championships, so it just made sense to come back and run it. I think last year was also the first time I physically felt ready to run a 10km on the track, which was very important to me.

What does Zatopek mean as an event to you?

It’s a very high priority meet for me for a number of reasons. First off, it’s a race on Australian soil, which have been very rare for me over the last 5 years. Coming back to Australia and getting to race in front of a number of familiar faces was a big deal for me, and something that I’ll always look forward to. Secondly, most of Australia’s great distance runners have won this race at some point in their career, and to have the chance to put my name up with their’s is an awesome feeling. Finally, there are very few track races around the world where the fans are able to come out onto the track. It makes for a great atmosphere, and hopefully we can get a few more people out this year to make it even more exciting.

LONDON, ENGLAND – 12 AUGUST 2017: Patrick Tiernan of Australia, Mohamed Farah of Great Britain and Paul Kipkemoi Chelimo of the United States compete in the Men’s 5000 Metres final during day nine of the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017 at The London Stadium on August 12, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Did you initially understand who Emil Zatopek was?

Not at all. It was either my high school coach, Tom Bradbury, or my Dad that first told me about him. At first I didn’t think much of what he did, but after realizing how hard it is to compete at the top level, I gained an incredible amount of respect for the man. To do what he did is something that would seem impossible to most.

What changed most during your training build-up to your first Zatopek 10?

I wouldn’t say that my training was changed for the Zatopek race, but rather for my last NCAA cross country race. Regardless, what I did in the lead up to that obviously paid off for me when it came to the Zatopek 10. In the lead-up to the race, I was doing a lot of fartlek sessions, with some quicker 1km reps thrown in either at the end or in the middle of each session. The purpose of this was to be able to adjust and recover if the pace quickened at random points throughout the race. I had also increased the amount of strength and conditioning work I was doing, which I think really helps in the latter stages of the race.

LONDON, ENGLAND – 12 AUGUST 2017: Patrick Tiernan of Australia leads during the Men’s 5000 Metres final during day nine of the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017 at The London Stadium on August 12, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

How has the Zatopek 10 effected your career to date?

It was my first race as a professional, and really set a good tempo for the remainder of my season. It is a tough race to win, and I think that it helped me realize how much physical and mental strength is required to compete at the top level.

What does the race signify to you in the world of junior Australian athletics?

I never personally ran the 3,000m at the Zatopek meet. I was supposed to race in 2012 I think, but I was just beginning the process of going to Villanova University, so I had to pass up the opportunity unfortunately. Since the 2008 meeting where Dave won the 10,000m, I did keep close tabs on the junior race results. I remember seeing guys like Ryan Gregson, James Nipperess, Brett Robinson, and Jordy Williamsz win the event, and I really wanted to give it a crack. However, things just didn’t line up unfortunately. However, all of those guys went on to have great careers, and are still running at a very high level, so I think it just shows how significant the race is as far as identifying the next generation of Australian distance runners.

How did the U20 race effect your career progression at the time?

Obviously it didn’t have a direct effect for me, but seeing other guys around my age competing at the front of a race like that was always great motivation for me. Even when I first moved to the US, I would look at the result of that year’s race, and say to myself that when I eventually came back that I wanted to be able to compete and win a race like that, so it was always a source of motivation for me.

 

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – 08 DECEMBER 2016: Patrick Tiernan poses with the trophy after winning the Zatopek 10 Australian 10,000m race during the Zatopek 10 Australian 10,000m Championships on December 8, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Background and interview courtesy of Sean Whipp

Zatopek Legacy – Benita Johnson (nee Willis)

Benita Willis built a career during 2000-2012 that featured 18 major championship appearances in an Australian outfit, a four-time Olympian, Willis is best known for her 10 national records ranging from 2000m to the Marathon, and victory at the 2004 World Cross Country Championships, the only Australian ever to win the prestigious event.

The Mackay native had a number of phenomenal showings at the World Cross Country Championships, racing in 8 editions of the event with a lowest finish of 17th, placing inside the top 10 on 7 occasions in both long and short-course configurations.

Willis’ finishes over grass, mud, snow and gravel cross country courses are testament to the versatility of her abilities across a range of distances, ultimately winning the event in 2004 in Belgium, defeating a set of international athletes who held a combined 28 major championship medals between them, such is the middle to long-distance melting pot that the cross country arena provides.

Willis’ involvement with the Zatopek:10 event began with the Ondieki Under 20 3000m Challenge, winning the event as a junior, cementing her international competitiveness in finishing 7th at the 1998 World Junior Championships in Annecy, France.

Whilst Willis never ran the 10,000m event at the Zatopek:10 event due to the timing of her seasons, her national record was set in a viciously competitive environment, running 30:37.68 in finishing 8th at 2003 World Championships, some 34 seconds faster than the next fastest Australian best time.

22 Sep 2000: Benita Willis of Australia (left) and Ryan Rosemary of Ireland (right) in the Womens 5000m heats at the Olympic Stadium on Day Seven of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Mandatory Credit: Stu Forster /Allsport

When did you first hear about the Zatopek event?

I first heard about Zatopek when I was in about year 10 at school as I came down to Melbourne to run the “Olympic Dream” race (1500m race) and people were talking about Zatopek then. As I grew up in North Queensland, I didn’t know too much about big races around Australia as was generally more focused on hockey and team sports and did athletics with the school season in the last few months of the year. 

At first (when still in high school) I thought Zatopek was just a meet for the 10km and wasn’t till I was a few years older that I knew juniors could race over shorter distances. I moved to Canberra after year 12 to take up a scholarship at the AIS and it was there that I learnt about Zatopek and later that year decided to race the U/20 3km. 

What does the race signify to you in the world of junior Australian athletics?

I think it is a fantastic race of Australia’s best junior runners – all coming together at one meet to run. The 3km is not a major championship event so it mixes up athletes who have speed and endurance all in the same race – tactically this is awesome to see how it plays out. I love tactical races and the year I won this event, finished with a sprint finish. Many of our top athletes today, in the past and I’m sure in the future have won or will win this race as a junior. 

It also signifies Australia’s rich distance running history (being the Ondieki U/20 3km) and the prestige in following someone of Lisa’s calibre as a junior.  

Did your training change at all in the lead up to such a nationally competitive race?

No, I just trained like I normally do but as it was in my first year in Uni (was doing uni full time at University of Canberra), was already on holidays so had a bit more time to relax between training sessions in the weeks before. 

How did the U20 race effect your career progression at the time?

It further motivated me as I did a PB, won the race and enjoyed it too which is the main thing. At the time I was still playing a bit of hockey (as well as training for running at the AIS) so after that I just went with the running, became more committed and continued along that path. This 3km at Zatopek was the 2nd 3km I’d ever done (I was 18/19 I think at the time). 

NANNING, CHINA – 15 OCTOBER 2010: (L-R) Xiaolin Zhu of China, Florence Jebet Kiplagat of Kenya, Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea and Benita Willis of Australia pose during IAAF World Half Marathon Championships Nanning 2010 press conference on October 15, 2010 in Nanning, China. (Photo by Wang Zhao/Getty Images)

Background and interview courtesy of Sean Whipp

Zatopek Legacy – David McNeill

David McNeill’s name is one that has become synonymous with expertise over 25 laps of a track. The two-time Olympian has represented Australia at the Commonwealth Games, four IAAF World Cross Country Championships, including a World Championship appearance in 2009 (Berlin). 

McNeill’s 16th place finish in Rio de Janeiro highlighted a career grown at altitude in the mountains of Flagstaff,  Arizona, spending three years representing Northern Arizona University in the collegiate athletic system, competing at nine NCAA national championships, winning two national titles whilst finishing 2nd twice, the Old Xaverian’s club member returned home a formidable international athlete.

With Zatopek:10 victories in 2008 and 2015, McNeill admits that the event holds a special place in his running calendar, having catapulted the wiry 27:45 10,000m man to a variety of green and gold emblazoned teams.

McNeill enters the 2017 edition of the race ranked 8th all-time for the distance amongst Australians, setting up a fascinating battle against the 3rd best Australian over 10,000m, 8 years his junior, Queenslander Patrick Tiernan. Many years of training weeks well in excess of 160 kilometers a week will hold McNeill in good stead, as local fans are treated to two of Australia’s best figuring each other out for a place at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – 11 DECEMBER 2008: David McNeill of Vic, Michael Shelley of QLD and Bobby Curtis of the USA run together in the Mens Zatopek 10000 Metres during the Zatopek Classic National Series meet at Olympic Park on December 11, 2008 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

 

When did you first hear about the Zatopek race?

Probably around 2002. That was my first experience going and watching the Zatopek. I remember watching Lee Troop and Steve Moneghetti running the main event, and Shaun Forrest winning the U20 3km over Clint Perrett. On reflection, it was probably the beginning of my love affair with distance running. 

Why did you first run the Zatopek 10,000m event?

I first ran it in 2006. That was my first year in the senior ranks, and so it just seemed a natural progression to participate in it after having run the 3000m the previous few years in the juniors.

What does Zatopek mean as an event to you?

There’s certainly some sentimentality surrounding the event for me. I appreciate the history behind the event, I’ve won it twice myself, and I associate it with happy memories with my first coach, Tom Kelly, who was a major player in paving my way into this sport. But it’s also an important part of my quest each year to make Aussie teams, so there’s an element of pressure and nervous energy surrounding the event too!

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA –  05 DECEMBER 2015: Brett Robinson, David McNeill and Brian Shrader run in the Men’s 10,000 Metre Zatopek Open during the Australian All Schools Championships & Zatopek:10 at Lakeside Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Did you initially understand who Emil Zatopek was?

To be honest, I couldn’t tell you. I certainly know and appreciate who he is now, but the initial meaning I attributed to the event probably had more to do with how I felt star struck watching folks like Lee Troop and Craig Mottram winning the event when I was a youngster, and the way being at the old Olympic Park made you feel. That was an incredibly special venue, whose history was palpable every time you set foot in the stadium or on the track. 

What changed most during your training build-up to your first Zatopek 10?

I went into my first Zatopek with a chip on my shoulder. I’d stagnated over the last couple of years, and went into it with a great deal more dedication and my first time running over 100km a week in preparation. I went from a 31min 10k runner to coming 2nd Australian in a tick over 29mins.

How has the Zatopek 10 effected your career to date?

It’s provided a couple of my career highlights for sure. I rank my two Zatopek wins as some of my most special memories in this sport.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – 05 DECEMBER 2015: David McNeill of Old Xaverians celebrates after crossing the line to win the Zatopek Mens 10000m Open during the Australian All Schools Championships & Zatopek:10 at Lakeside Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Prezioso/Getty Images)

Background and interview courtesy of Sean Whipp

Zatopek Legacy – Susan Hobson

Susan Hobson enjoyed a slightly later start to an Olympic career than most, but after winning her first national title at 30, went on to claim six national titles across three events, representing Australia at the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympics.

Hobson worked extensively with famed Australian coaches Pat Clohessy (1988-2000) and Dick Telford (1996-97), who assisted the Queanbeyan native to career highlights including representing Australia at five world cross country championships, two Commonwealth Games and three Olympic Games, posting a highest finish of 17th in the 10,000m at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Hobson’s range of finishing places at the world cross country championships, often considered the most difficult mix of athletes in international racing, stretched from a “low” of 26th (Stavanger, 1989) to a high of 16th (Boston, 1992), displaying Hobson’s tenacity amongst a world-class field.

Hobson’s best results are spread throughout the Australian women’s all-time lists, currently the 6th fastest 10,000m performer, 8th fastest half-marathoner and 13th fastest marathoner in Australian history.

Susan finishing at the Melbourne Marathon

When did you first hear about the Zatopek race?

Back in 1989 I thought about doing a 10k on the track and trying to qualify for the 1990 Commonwealth Games. My coach Pat Clohessy said Zatopek was the obvious race to do – a no brainer.

Why did you first run the Zatopek 10,000m event?

I wanted to do a 10k track race and also wanted to qualify for the 1990 Commonwealth Games (which I did successfully, winning the 1989 edition of Zatopek)

5 Aug 2000: Susan Hobson competes in the womens event, during the Womens Open National 8 km Cross Country race, which was held at Yarra Bend Park, Heidelberg. Mandatory Credit: Darren McNamara/ALLSPORT

What does Zatopek mean as an event to you?

It’s the premier 10 000m race in Australia and has a great history. All of Australia’s best distance runners have run it, so it is an honour to have won the race.

Did you initially understand who Emil Zatopek was?

I had heard of Zatopek but did some extra research before the 1989 race.

What changed most during your training build-up to your first Zatopek 10?

Lots of sessions of mile reps and “straights and bends” – which became a staple of my training program

How has the Zatopek 10 effected your career to date?

Winning the 1989 race was significant – I felt it was a grea finish to a successful year where I had stepped up (emerged) to be one of Australia’s best female distance runners at that time – along with Carolyn Schuwalow, Jenny Lund and Lisa Ondieki.

The 1991 Zatopek was probably the most memorable race, even though I ended up in third. Carolyn, Jenny, Krishna Stanton and I ran as a group for 24 laps – Jenny, Carolyn and I all came away with the Olympic qualifier and PB’s.

Many people have told me since it was one of the best women’s 10k races ever run Australia (outside the Olympics) and a great race to watch.

31 Aug 2000: Susan Hobson (marathon), Kerryn McCann (marathon), Kate Richardson (5000 metres) and Anne Cross (5000 metres) of Australia in action during the Australian Athletics Olympic Teams training camp at Nudgee College in Brisbane, Australia. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Darren England/ALLSPORT

Background and interview courtesy of Sean Whipp

AV Shield Round 8 – UPDATE

AV Shield Round 8 – UPDATE

Due to the previous cancelled rounds, Geelong Round 8 will take place this Saturday 9th December 2017. Entries are open and will close at midday on Thursday 7th December 2017 for Geelong Region only. For those who entered previously for Geelong round 8, must log back in to their profile and enter accordingly.

AV Shield Round 8 for the Metro region will operate on the Sunday 10th December 2017 with Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong operating on Saturday 9th December 2017. Entries close at midday on Wednesday 6th December 2017 for all excluding Geelong.

To enter log in via the AV Member Portal

To view current timetables, visit the AV Shield information page

Zatopek 2017 Entry List

The 2017 Zatopek 10 entry lists have been finalised.  Fifteen events are scheduled on the program which will kick off at 630pm on Thursday 14th December 2017.

For the first time heats will be run in the David Baxter Memorial 100 yards Mens Championship Event at 630pm and then the final scheduled for 7.30pm.

Entry Lists for the Zatopek 10 can be found via ths link    Zatopek Event List 01122017

**Athletes in the Gary Honey and Steve Hooker Challenge have been notified and final pairings and/or groups will be determined shortly.

The amended draft timetable is below

Start Time No Event Timetable
6.30pm 1 David Baxter Memorial 100 Yards * Heats
6.40pm 2 Denise Boyd 100 Yards Women *
6.45pm 3 Gary Honey Long Jump Challenge
6.48pm 4 Vic Schools Girls Relay
6.53pm 5 Vic Schools Boys Relay Final
6.55pm 6 Open Mens Shot Put
7.00pm 7 Womens 4 x 400m Relay *
7.07pm 8 Mens 4 x 400m Relay *
7.10pm 9 Steve Hooker Pole Vault Challenge
7.15pm Formal Presentations
7.30pm 1 David Baxter Memorial 100 Yards Final
7.37pm 10 OPEN WOMENS 1500m
7.45pm 11 OPEN MENS 1500m
7.55pm 12 Ondeicki u20 3000m Women
8.15pm 13 Zatopek Womens 10,000m * ##
8.55pm 14 De Castella u20 3000m Men
9.15pm 15 Zatopek Mens 10,000m* ##

AV SHIELD Competition Cancelled

AV SHIELD ROUND 7 & GEELONG ROUND 8 CANCELLED DUE TO SEVERE WEATHER WARNING

 

With the Bureau of Meteorology still forecasting severe rainfall, thunderstorms, and flood warnings across Victoria for Saturday and Emergency Management Victoria advising of the risks and unpredictability of a superstorm, Athletics Victoria are forced to cancel all AV Shield competition at Doncaster, Ringwood, Bendigo, Ballarat, and Geelong for the safety of all AV members.

Bureau Issued at 10:50 am Friday, 1 December 2017.

HEAVY RAIN and SCATTERED THUNDERSTORMS which may lead to FLASH FLOODING are forecast throughout much of the State today, with a focus about the northeast. Heavy rain and thunderstorm activity will continue throughout SATURDAY, before contracting to the southeast during SUNDAY.
Rain totals to midday Sunday of 50-150mm are expected in the warning area, with 100-200mm in the northeast and peak totals exceeding 250mm possible about the northeast ranges.
Locations which may be affected include Mildura, Horsham, Bendigo, Shepparton, Seymour, Maryborough, Ballarat, Geelong, Melbourne, Wodonga, Wangaratta, Traralgon, and Bairnsdale.
We look forward to welcoming you back next weekend for AV Shield round 8 at Williamstown, Casey Fields, Ballarat, and Bendigo.

Have a pleasant and safe weekend.

Regards
The AV Team