What a Weekend! 2021 NMMF a Winner


This weekend, the Nike Melbourne Marathon Festival returned for its 43rd edition with over 28,000 registered participants – marking a monumental milestone for the city and the running community alike.

Victoria’s Brett Robinson won the men’s Nike Melbourne Marathon with a time of 2:14:33, receiving $20,000 in prize money. Robinson had a tight tussle with 2016 winner, Tom Do Canto, and first-time marathoner, Ed Goddard, with the trio still locked together at 38km. But Robinson, who lives less than 500m from the MCG, used plenty of crowd support to sneak away eight seconds clear of Do Canto.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever won a marathon, so it’s definitely really special for me. It was just fantastic to be back racing and to have friends and family watching. My dad Tony flew in from Canberra last night to watch,” said Robinson.

Winner of the women’s Nike Melbourne Marathon was 2016 Rio Olympian, Milly Clark, from Tasmania, who tackled the 42.195km course with a personal time of 2:26:59, nabbing the coveted $20,000 cash prize.

Her main competition, Eloise Wellings, also secured a personal best with an incredible time of 2:29.19, and was followed closely by Marnie Ponton, who smashed her PB at 2:31:54.

“It was weird to get back into a big race again and great that it actually happened,” Clark said. “I was so nervous. I’d had some really strange dreams about the race the past few nights. Sometimes I won it, sometimes I came last, sometimes I didn’t finish. It was nice how reality turned out.”

Representing Western Athletics, Jack Rayner was neck-and-neck with Olympic 10km runner David McNeill – the pair clocking 1:02:30 and 1:02:33 respectively – the fastest time set by Australians at Melbourne.

Olympic 5000m runner, Izzi Batt-Doyle, clocked 1:10:16 to win the Nike Half Marathon, which eclipsed Lisa Weightman’s 2015 course record by 43 seconds. She was followed closely by Australian cross country silver medallist, Leanne Pompeani, who came in at 1:10:40 and former Melbourne Marathon winner, Olympian and two-time Commonwealth Games Bronze medallist, Jess Stenson at 1:12:46.

Festival Director, Marcus Gale, commented: “We’re absolutely thrilled to get Melbourne up and running again with the biggest marathon event in Australia since the pandemic began. The energy out on course and inside the MCG today was electric for tens of thousands of runners and spectators. This weekend’s Nike Melbourne Marathon Festival is a remarkable step forward for live events, and an exciting milestone that our city is back.”.

“This year’s participants have raised in excess of $1,200,000 and counting for over 162 deserving charities and causes across the country including our official charity partner, the Cerebral Palsy Education Centre and associate charities JMB Foundation, Australian Red Cross, the Heart Foundation, and Very Special Kids.”

Vice President and General Manager, Nike Australia, Ashley Reade commented:“Nike feel privileged to partner with such a historic running event and to welcome back running in a big way. From 3kms to 42kms over the weekend of events, it was fantastic to bring the community together and feel the energy from runners through to those cheering from the sidelines. We hope Nike Melbourne Marathon Festival can continue to be a celebration of runners of every level and can inspire the next generation of athletes.”

The Festival saw some of the city’s biggest names taking part in the event including Lord Mayor, Sally Capp, former Miss Universe Australia, Olivia Molly Rogers, and former AFL players Dylan Buckley and Daniel Gorringe.

The event was also significant for Andrew Prestney, father of the late Josh Prestney who was the youngest police officer killed in the Eastern Freeway crash last year. Andrew ran the Nike Melbourne Marathon in memory of his son who was as a multiple Ironman competitor and completed several half marathons at the Festival. Andrew kept his son’s police cap in hand throughout the entire distance.

A number of colourful participants also took part in the event, including a runner dressed as a Viking, and a woman celebrating her 81st birthday by running the Nike Half Marathon.

The day was particularly momentous for the event’s five ‘Spartan Legends’, who repped their eye-catching yellow Spartan singlets and completed their 43rd consecutive Melbourne Marathon. Following in their footsteps were the hundreds of participants running their tenth Melbourne Marathon, who today became recognised as Spartans.

Spartan Ian Gainey joined the event hall of fame becoming the first ever wheelchair entrant to complete 30 Melbourne Marathons. At the age of two, Ian contracted poliomyelitis and was left with paraplegia in both his lower limbs. While some people might think this would slow him down, it has only propelled him on his athletic endeavours. His sporting highlights also include two Paralympics (London 1984 and Seoul 1988), a 10,000-metre World Record in the 1986 London World Wheelchair Games, and countless Australian events. 

Not all the action took place on the running course; the young and young heart brought the energy and supported every runner at a crucial stage of the course, spurring them on with banging beats from local live bands in the Nike Cheer Zone. Those who couldn’t make it out on course didn’t miss a moment of the race day, thanks to the live stream coverage and official Melbourne Marathon Festival app.

Runners looking for their next big challenge after the NIKE Melbourne Marathon Festival will not want to miss out on Australia’s most stunning running event, The Great Ocean Road Running Festival taking place 14-15 May 2022. Early Bird entries are now open at greatoceanroadrunfest.com.au

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