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