Posted 16 May 2010 - 01:35 PM
Move over old-timers – the Next Big Things have arrived in the world of distance running.
Eye-catching performances from two young guns, Cassie Fien and Harry Summers, at yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon, presented by Colonial First State, gave thousands of runners and spectators a glimpse of the future.
And the future looks very bright indeed.
While 31-year-old Canberran and likely Commonwealth Games representative, Martin Dent, collected his third winner’s trophy, it was 19-year-old second placegetter Summers who impressed the running elite, with a daring display of racing.
In the women’s event, Queensland-born Fien, 24, blitzed her more experienced rivals to record an imposing victory in the fifth-fastest time of the 21.1km event’s 19-year history.
“Wow Sydney, that was awesome,” Fien exclaimed in a packed Hyde Park after her 71min 59s win.
“The buzz, the atmosphere, the people cheering you on, it was so good.”
A physical training instructor with the RAAF and currently based at Sale in Victoria, Fien is self-coached and powerfully-motivated to achieve greater heights with running.
Only days before her 13th birthday, Fien’s father and running coach, Kerry, was tragically killed when a truck hit the bicycle he was riding.
The loss of her Dad, which is “still so raw”, has fired her ambition to become a marathon runner for Australia.
”I’ve dreamed of representing Australia in the marathon since I was 12 and I want to do it by myself,” she said
“Dad was my coach but he was killed in 1999. When he was dying I told him I [would become a marathon runner], even though he couldn’t hear me.”
Fien, who was presented with the perpetual Kerryn McCann Trophy and a cheque for $5000, already has an excellent half marathon pedigree.
Last year she broke the late McCann’s race record in the Great Ocean Road 21.1km event and competed in the World Half Marathon Championships.
Yesterday Fien held out 2009 winner Melinda Vernon (74min 50s) by almost three minutes, with third placegetter Anna Thompson finishing in 75min 29s.
With a capacity field of 8,731 (from 10,500 entrants) enjoying perfect early morning conditions as they set off from St Mary’s Cathedral on their two-lap journey through the city streets, quick times were always likely.
Dent’s 64min 28s was his best for this event and an indicator of the form that has seen him run a 2h 13min marathon in February and almost certainly qualify for the Australian team in Delhi in October.
“I’ll find out later this week if I’m on the team; I’d be pretty devastated if I wasn’t,” Dent said.
Yesterday Dent was supported by his parents, Di and Cliff, with his wife Kathie holding the fort at home with two-year-old son Elye and new twins, Connor and Hayden.
“Yeah life is pretty busy – it’s basically work, training and family – but Kathie does a great job,” he said.
Summers, who collected $3000 for second place and a $1000 bonus for being the first runner aged 19 or under, was warmly praised by Dent.
“He’s an awesome talent. He’ll be running fast here for the next 10 years at least,” Dent said.
Summers, from Clovelly, is a former soccer player who took up running merely to keep fit in the off-season.
Now his goal is to be selected in the 2012 Olympic team for either the 5000m or 10,000m track events.
“This is my first half marathon so I’m very happy,” Summers said.
“I went out a bit crazy for the first 6km because I felt pretty good but the last 10 minutes, I felt pretty ordinary by then.”