IT was very much a case of the Canberra raiders at Albury’s Nail Can Hill Run yesterday.
Canberra runner Michael Roeger was the first across the line of the revamped 11.3km course in a time of 39 minutes 15 seconds, just nine seconds in front of fellow Canberran John Winsbury.
Roeger’s training partner, Brad White, was third in a time of 39.37, after also finishing third last year.
All three Canberra runners ran as a group for the majority of the race but it was Roeger, who made the final of the 1500m at the Beijing Paralympics last year, who finished stronger in the home stretch to the new finish line at Bonnie Doon Park.
“First time out here, I’m really happy with my run,” Roeger said.
“I had a walk of the course yesterday, it’s a tough course but I was happy to be able to make a bit of a break in the last 2km.
“It’s a very tough course, especially the first 4km, I don’t think I’ve ever run a race like that before, there was a group of us that broke away and worked together on the main hill.
“I waited until about the 1800m mark and I felt good, so I made a break because I knew the last bit was all downhill and it paid off in the end.
“I’ve had a big week, I’ve run more than 100km, so to get a win with no taper or anything like that is a real bonus ahead of the summer season.
“I’ll be back again next year and hopefully I can get it again.”
Winsbury, who also finished second to seven-time winner Jeremey Horne in 2004 in his only other appearance in the race, said his preparations for several longer races later in the year meant he couldn’t keep up with Roeger over the closing stages.
“It was excellent racing for pretty much the whole race,” Winsbury said.
“There were three of us that race together and I certainly felt a bit heavier, given I’ve been in training for the Christchurch marathon.
“The race was a good indicator of where I’m at but I seem to be a bit of a bridesmaid in this race, I’ve run twice now and finished second both times.
“But it’s a great course, especially the new part, it seems designed to hurt a bit more towards the end, that little bit of extra hill at the end makes it tougher.
“I just couldn’t stay with Michael at the end, I couldn’t quite get my legs to tick over any faster and I just couldn’t quite reel him in.”
Female winner Tarli Bird, in her debut Nail Can Hill race, was a comfortable winner in a time of 45.44, well outside the record of 43.53, set by Kate Siebold-Crosby last year.
Colleen Middleton finished second in 47.15, with eight-time winner Julie Gollan-Foard a further three minutes back in 50.15.
Bird said she was surprised but happy with her time, considering it was her first time running the course.
“I was really happy with my run, it went a lot quicker than I thought it would,” Bird said.
“In the first couple of kilometres, I wanted to get out early and get a break on everyone.
“I knew if I went out hard early, the last part is downhill ... (and) the weather was fantastic.”