As 2012 champ and Victorian cross country and road running wrecking ball Steve Kelly is not defending his title it leaves the door open for a 1st time winner to engrave his name into Victorian T&F history.
So we give you 3 guys we think have the credentials to win plus our smoky.
Favourite no. 1: Mitchel Brown
The Aths Essendon runner has been having another strong season racking up the victories
1st in the Vic 10k Road Champs, 1st in the National Cross Country Champs, 1st in the recent 10k at the Melbourne Marathon. He knows how to win and usually does. A 13:55 PB for the 5k shows he can get it done on the track too. But he doesn’t have the fastest 5k time in the field.
Favourite no. 2: Duer Yoa
That honour of 13:50 belongs to the Ballarat man who is another one putting out some quick times this year. Selected to represent Australia in the Chiba Ekiden relays on the 23rd of November he may have something to prove at this event and I feel that there may be a battle to the wire with Mitch Brown in the offering.
Favourite no. 3: Zak Patterson
The young up and comer had had a great junior career thus far. I’m picking him based on his time of 10:59 around the tan in September at the AV Tan Relays.
Generally I’ve found that once someone goes sub 11 mins at the tan, big things usually are in store around the corner. Zak might just deliver something big on Thursday.
Just as there are smokies in the womens race there are in the mens. And my pick is Jacob Birtwhistle. It’s no secret that the Tasmanian can run fast as a 30:04 at the Launceston 10 in June this year to beat names like Ashkettle, Dent and Dinneen would indicate. If he has a cracking night?….. well watch this space then.
A couple of things stand out, some pre race takeaways (PRT’s):
PRT 1: A number of the field falls in the 18-20 age bracket which is very encouraging for this distance. A number have also run in the u-20 de Castella 3k over the past 2 years.
PRT 2: The difference in personal bests between 6th fastest and 18th fastest is a mere 15 seconds over 13 guys. This tells me that even the 18th man in the field has a chance of a medal but the overall win should come from the above mentioned 4 men.