10 Most Memorable Melbourne Marathons #2

The countdown of the top 10 most memorable Melbourne races continues with our panel of experts selecting last year’s event at No.2 when Sinead Diver broke the women’s course record in the marathon.

No.2

The Year: 2018

The Winners: Liam Adams (Vic) 2:15.03, Sinead Diver (Vic) 2:25.19

The Race

IRISH-BORN mum Sinead Diver smashed Lisa Weightman’s race record and showed the world that 40 is not too old when it comes to marathons.

The 41-year, who only took up running eight years earlier, was mobbed by her boys – Eddie 9 and Dara 5, as well as husband Colin – as she crossed the finish line in 2:25.19 to pick up a $20,000 bonus on top of her $20,000 first place prize.

More than 30,000 runners took part across the five events and the elite got the benefits of completing the course before the wind picked up and the heat took its toll as temperatures soared into the mid twenties.

Diver had the benefit of a three-man pacing group for much of the way, but when two colleagues dropped off she had to ask young Victorian distance runner Jack Rayner, who only got off a plane from Cardiff two days earlier, to continue beyond 32km.

“He (Rayner) was an absolute legend, I wouldn’t have done it without him,” Diver said. “When we were heading up St Kilda Rd the wind was picking up and he just said ‘no worries, I’ll go a bit further’.

“By the time we reached 37km, he said ‘you are fine, you’re killing it, you don’t need me to help you’.”

As with Weightman in 2013, Diver picked up her tempo in the last 5km to smash her best time by more than six minutes and obliterate a number of significant records.

Her time was the fastest ever by an Australian on home soil and only three other Australian women have run faster overseas. She smashed the Australian over 40 record, missed out on the world age record by less than a minute, was the equal-oldest winner in race history and finished nearly 22 minutes ahead of second-placed female Rochelle Rodgers – the biggest winning margin in race history.

“It’s been by far my best year and I really wanted to cap it off with a huge marathon. To have all of the support here has been amazing,” she said.

“Because I started so late I don’t have a lot of kilometres in my legs and I think that makes a big difference.”

Coached by Tim Crosbie at Albert Park, Diver has also been mentored by Nic Bideau and his Irish wife Sonia O’Sullivan, a former world champion.

The win capped an extraordinary rise for Diver, who moved to Australia from county Mayo on the west coast of Ireland on a working holiday in 2002 and still works in Information Technology.

After her first child, she took part in a corporate day run around the Tan on a bit of a whim with her sister Grainne back in 2010 and she clocked an amazing 13.30. Crosbie spotted her and she joined his South Melbourne group and kept improving.  

It was a great day for local runners with Rio Olympian Liam Adams, an Essendon athlete, the first across the line in 2:15.13, more than a minute clear of Kenyan Dominic Ondoro (2:16.55), who had won the race in 2013, the last time Adams had run Melbourne.

After making a break at the halfway point, Adams appeared to be cruising to victory before a toe injury slowed him in the final 5km.

“I was very happy with the pace early, but I paid for it a bit later when the nail on my little toe starting digging into my foot. I ended up limping home the final 2km,” Adams said.

“That’s why I kept looking around to see where Ondoro was.”

Adelaide’s Michael Roeger, an arm amputee, stepped up to the marathon and smashed the world record for the T46 ambulant category. He finished sixth place overall in 2:23.31.

Box Hill’s John Meagher, who was fifth in 2:19.20 back in 1993, broke Ron Peters’ over 55 Australian record when he clocked 2:37.14. Peters set the record in 2009 when he ran 2:37.27.

Regular NSW visitor Tracie Edmondson broke Sandy Beach’s over 50 age record when she clocked 3:05.57 to finish ninth female overall.

The Sri Lankan Airlines half marathon sold out and the 9968 finishers made it the largest half marathon in Australia.

Rio Olympian Brett Robinson won his second consecutive Melbourne half title in 64.15, while Sunshine Coast’s Mel Panayiotou, a Glasgow Comm Games rep, claimed the women’s title in 75.17.

Why it was memorable

Mona says: “Sinead Diver delivering with a super time and proving that age is no barrier.”

Turney says: “How good was Sinead Diver’s run and to do it as a mum of two at 41.”

Muirden says: “Adams and Diver got through before the weather turned, but the race bounced back to life across all events.”

Our panellists:

Steve Moneghetti – Berlin and Commonwealth Games Marathon winner, Balllarat running icon, Comm Games Chef de Mission and regular Melbourne Marathon TV commentator

Jackie Cook (nee Turney) – two-time race winner (1981 and 1987) and coach of many Melbourne Marathon entrants

Chris Muirden – race historian, regular entrant and former course director

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