Australian Institute of Sport national distance coach Dick Telford believes tomorrow's Adidas Burnie Ten will showcase some of the most spectacular and fastest middle-distance runners Australia has produced.
Coaching four race favourites including Victoria's Kate Anderson, Tasmania's Kylie Risk and Ethiopians Mizan Mehari and Sisay Bezabih, Telford has a good idea of what can be expected.
Anderson, 24, is the Burnie Ten defending champion and record holder of the event with a time of 32.02.
She is the Australian 5km record holder, won gold in the 5km at the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games and was also placed 11th in the 1997 5km world championships in Athens. Telford rates her performance in the worlds as her highest achievement.
``It puts her in the rare category of being one of very few runners in Australia that have ever made finals of world championship or Olympic event, in the 5 or the 10km,'' he said.
But when asked to compare Anderson to Risk, Telford finds it very difficult to separate them.
Having won a silver medallist in the 10km at the recent Commonwealth Games, Risk came second in the 1997 Burnie Ten and won both the 1996 and 1998 national cross country championships.
She is considered one of Tasmania's best ever middle distance runners. Telford said even if he could pick a favourite for the event between Risk and Anderson he wouldn't.
``No it's a very difficult one and it's something I wouldn't try to do,'' he said.
Telford said both women had different abilities and strengths.
He said even though Kate was a faster runner over a shorter distance and Kylie was better over the longer it was still difficult to choose between them.
``It's hard to know on this road race because Kate's got the record on the course but on the other hand Kylie's got loads of stamina...it will just be interesting to see between them who does what.''
Telford said another one to watch in the women's field would be Kerryn McCann of Woollongong, NSW.
McCann recently won Sydney's City to Surf event, was second in the 1998 National Cross Country Championships and also won the 1998 Sutherland to Surf. ``She really looks better than I've ever seen her before,'' he said.
This year's men's field is likely to be dominated by the two Ethiopians, Mehari and Bezabih. Both are studying at the AIS and are planning to gain Australian citizenship next year.
Telford said he is particularly impressed with Mehari's form this year. He said Mehari was clearly the faster runner while Sisay was coming through slowly but surely.
``Sisay's had some good runs but they're not in the spectacular category that Mizan is in.
``Sisay is certainly someone who is improving all the time and who'll be an excellent runner for Australia over the next few years. But Mizan is world-class already, despite his age, and he's certainly the one to beat down there.''
Telford said the conditions would also play an important role in the race.