Claire Tallent heads into unchartered territory this Sunday, as the sole woman competing at the Australian 50km Race Walking Championships at Fawkner Park in Melbourne.
“It’s been a real challenge trying to weight up whether to do the 50km here or not,” the 2010 Commonwealth silver medallist and two-time Olympian said.
The event now included for the world championships, Tallent has to roll the dice to compete at the endurance event and then qualify for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games where she is hopeful of earning a spot in the 20km.
“My motivation is to compete in the 50km walk at the 2018 IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships in May and potentially see if I can get a podium finish there. I didn’t want to go into that competition having not ever competed in the 50km distance,” Tallent explained. “It’s a real balancing act weighing up whether to do this in December or post-Commonwealth Games and qualify early.
“The women’s have only ever had the 20km, but in my training, I think my strength was always my endurance, and I was perhaps always better suited to that event,” Tallent said. “Now that it’s an official event and it’s on the international calendar, I was keen to give it a go and see what I could do.”
Tallent will line up alongside 2016 Australian 50km walk champion Matthew Griggs and Rio Olympian Brendon Reading, as well as former Swedish national 50km champion Perseus Karlström and Poland’s Damian Blocki.
Adding to Tallent’s challenge is the fact that the Australian 50km Race Walking Championships comes just a week after a whirlwind trip to Monaco with husband Jared for the IAAF Awards. The pair spent just under two days in the Principality before returning to Adelaide.
“It’s not ideal but having a six-month-old in the house, I’m used to having a lack of sleep,” Tallent mused. “You do the best you can.”
The 50km event will get underway at 0700 (Melbourne time) with the field of five on course for an hour before the 20km starters begin their event.
“That’s just more people to pass or to latch on to, or just to watch or keep pace with. We just have to stick out the first hour, and then there’s plenty of people on the course,” said Tallent.
Also battling through the remnants of any jet lag will be 2016’s 20km winner at the event, London Olympian Regan Lamble. The 26-year-old has just returned from a training camp at altitude in Colombia with fellow competitors Quentin Rew (New Zealand), and Jemima Montag (Vic) who will be racing in the open event for the first time having impressed in the junior ranks.
“This weekend’s going to be more of a good opportunity to see how fit I am and where I’m at going into summer,” said Lamble. “I think Sunday will be quite competitive. We have the official trial in February, but this is an important race. This is probably going to be one time we’ll all race each other before then so it will be quite a good indicator of who’s in good shape for next year and who’s in contention.”
Rio Olympian Rhydian Cowley will also attempt the 20km, as will 2012 Olympian Beki Smith.
Despite warnings of flash flooding forecast for Melbourne over the weekend, Tallent is optimistic about some fast times.
“I know it’s forecast for a bit of rain as well which has yielded some great times in the past when it’s rained there,” she said. “Hopefully, a broad range of people post some qualifiers, and it should be a great day.”
7:00AM - Men's Australian 50km Race Walk Championship
7:00AM - Women's Australian 50km Race Walk Championship
8:00AM - Men's Open Invitational 20km Race Walk
8:00AM - Women's Open Invitational 20km Race Walk
9:00AM - Men's Under 20 Invitational 10km Race Walk
9:00AM - Women's Under 20 Invitational 10km Race Walk
10:00AM - Men's Under 18 Invitational 5km Race Walk
10:00AM - Women's Under 18 Invitational 5km Race Walk
For start lists as of 27.11.17 please click here.