We’ll start with the women U-20 3000m race.
At a glance this is shaping up to be one of the best junior womens races in memory.
60% of the field (9 of the starting 15) have PB’s under 10 minutes with a further 4 just on 10 mins or a few seconds over.
So then; who’s going to win?
As far as I see it there are 3 women that demand our attention.
1: Courtney Powell: The Victorian runner has pedigree and form coming into this race as a 16:29 5k World Junior qualifier would point to. The slightly confounding thing is that her fastest 3k that I can find on record is only 9:51.
This has led me to conclude that she has not run the distance in a while as a 16:29 5k run from the front on a cold windy Melbourne night does not go into a 9:51 3k. So irrespective of the result, expect a big improvement from Courtney on that time come Thursday night.
2: Kate Spencer: The fastest woman in the field is NSW athlete Kate Spencer with a fresh 9:16 PB and 2nd place at the NSW 3000m championships. Astoundingly she had been in a car accident the week earlier!
3: Jenny Blundell: At the same championships as her NSW compatriot above she shaved a mere (joking there) 25 seconds off her 3k PB to finish 4th in 9:21. What I feel may work against Blundell in this race is she is more an 800/1500 type runner. So she has a great and exciting season to look forward to on the track in terms of those distances.
So it’s a shootout between Powell and Spencer for me for the title of best/most promising Australian junior female runner. I’ll call Powell just.
Some Pre Race Thoughts (PRT’s)
PRT 1: I’m not expecting a large number of personal bests in this race. I fell that the pace of the 9:20 and under girls will force the larger contingent of 9:40 -10:00 girls to work harder at the start of the race to keep up with them than is ideal for running PB’s resulting in a few blow-ups.
PRT 2: The fastest 3000m by an Australian junior? Just ahead by daylight, 8:44 by Donna Gould in 1984. Donna was a SA athlete and a dual Olympian and a dual Sportian. (Is that a word? It is now that I said it) The 3000m in L.A in 1984 and the Cycling Road Race in Seoul in 1988.
PRT 3: The fastest 3000m Benita Johnson ran as a junior? Just 9:16! And she went on to be arguably Australia’s greatest ever female distance runner. That should be a bright beacon of inspiration to all the girls in the Ondieki on Thursday.