A 5km handicap race featuring 14 of Tasmania’s best runners will act as a curtain-raiser to Sunday’s Stan Siejka Cycling Classic.
Olympian Milly Clark, Australian world championships representative Josh Harris and four-time Point to Pinnacle winner Dylan Evans headline the athletes confirmed for the afternoon race around Launceston’s CBD.
Rower-turned-triathlete Ali Foot, 2017-18 Tasmanian female distance runner of the year Abbey De la Motte and prominent Launceston runners Dave Thomas and Kate Pedley will also compete in what event director Rick Fontyn heralded as one of the best line-ups in recent memory.
“We have assembled what I think will be one of the strongest 5km handicap running races seen in the city of Launceston for many years,” Fontyn said.
“For that reason, we have revised our race day schedule to make this the race before the Stan Siejka Cycling Classic.
“(The race) should see a thrilling climax for fans, with the finish line at the crest of the famous Lawrence St hill.”
The 5km race has returned to the program this year after dropping off the run sheet several years ago.
Its return comes gilded with the next generation of Tasmanian runners, led by under-16 national cross country champion Sam Clifford and reigning Launceston Women’s 5km winner Summer Dingemanse.
Evans, who will shoot for a fifth consecutive Point to Pinnacle title in Hobart later this month, said he was excited to get a closer look at some of the state’s most promising youngsters.
“What’s good is that it’s got all the best juniors coming up, and they’re good juniors too,” Evans said.
“It’s a good field and because it’s handicapped that makes it more exciting for everyone - especially for the back-marker as you’re trying to chase everyone down.
“You think ‘I’m never going to catch them’ and then right at the end you start to reel everyone in and that adds good excitement.”
The high school teacher is likely to start alongside Thomas at the back end of the field, while Harris, who is recovering from a career-threatening foot injury, will pose an interesting problem for the handicapper.
Evans said he was looking forward to experiencing the Stan Siejka Classic’s famous atmosphere from the other side of the barriers.
“The environment’s so good and when the cycling goes round that peanut corner roundabout there’s so many people there yelling,” Evans said.
“And with all the local people and all of our friends there, they’re going to go off their heads.”
The 5km race has a prize pool of $550 and will get under way at 3.45pm, with the main event to follow at 4.45pm.