14 July 2019
History making Street Relays win for Illawong women
It was a day of records on the streets of the Ourimbah campus of the University Newcastle on Saturday where the Athletics NSW Street Relays, incorporating the 70th NSW Road Relays, were held in gusty weather conditions. Illawong Revesby Athletics Club won their first ever women’s open road relay title, while in the men’s race Sydney University won their first title in the race for 14 years and just second in the 70-year history of the race.
The breakthrough win for Illawong was achieved with no open athletes, three teenagers and a masters athlete, however they are some of the very best in their ages. Each leg was two laps of the 2km loop.
Former national 5000m champion, Belinda Martin led the team off clocking the fastest split of the day, 13:31, and she would 30 minutes later anchor her masters team with an amazing 13:32 split. In the open team, Martin passed the baton to Alexandra Field, 13, who extended the team’s lead over Sydney University by six seconds. Field, who is also a talented triathlete, clocked 13:54, the fourth fastest time of the day. Alexia Kalamvokis, also aged 13, ran on the third leg and added another 36 seconds to the lead. The anchor duties fell to junior international Tiahna Woodger. Fresh from her bronze medal in the under-18 3000m at the Oceania Championships, Woodger was untroubled adding 36 seconds to the lead, bring the team home for gold.
Illawong Revesby clocked 56:06 minutes for the win with defending champion, chasing a fourth straight win, Sydney University in second with 57:32, ahead of Newcastle region in third clocking 62:00 minutes.
Illawong’s win was not just the first in the 42-year history of the women’s Road Relay race, but also the first in any relay or individual state road/XC state title.
Fastest splits – 4km
Belinda Martin ILL 13:31
Beth Croft SYU 13:39
Izzy Thornton-Bott UTN 13:52
Alexandra Field ILL 13:54
Sarah Marvin SYU 14:00
Ella Heeney ASW 14:01
The men’s open race was a comfortable win for Sydney University, however it took a little while for them to get on top of the competition. On the opening leg Joe Burgess and Newcastle Flyer’s teenage star Luke Young were together at the end of the 4km leg with each recording 11:59 minutes. Half-miler Jess Maxwell took over for Newcastle, while for Uni, they drafted coach Ben Liddy who was a handy replacement clocking 12:08. It took until the second lap for Liddy to take the lead, eventually passing the baton to third leg runner Martin Cooper 21 seconds ahead of the new second placed team – Randwick Botany. Sydney Uni’s Harrison Wade smashed out the fastest time of the day (11:48) on the anchor as Uni won in a time of 48:20 from Randwick-Botany 49:16 and Newcastle Flyers 49:29.
Prior to Sydney University’s win in the men’s open race, Randwick Botany had won 11 titles from 2006 to 2016, then in 2017 UTS Norths won, in 2018 Bankstown and now in 2019 Sydney University – highlighting the last four titles have swapped between some of the winter powerhouses. Uni’s previous win had been in 2005, a classic race in Wollongong where Uni defeated Randwick Botany by just one second. The Uni team and splits were: Brad Croker 12:11, Tom Richardson 12:30, David Byrne 11:32 and Russell Dessaix-Chin 11:27 for a time of 47:40.
Randwick Botany’s team was Bradley Woods 11:48, Tim McGrath 12:54, Jeremy Roff 11:23 and Jeff Hunt 11:36 – time 47:41.
Fastest splits – 4km
Harrison Wade SYU 11:48
Luke Young NEW 11:59
Joe Burgess SYU 11:59
Leo Peterson UTN 12:01
Vincent Donnadieu SYU 12:04
Ben Liddy SYU 12:08
Stefan Music RBH 12:08
David Tarbotton for Athletics NSW
Image: Illawong open women’s team – Belinda Martin, Alexandra Field, Alexia Kalamvokis & Tiahna Woodger (images courtesy David Tarbotton)