A quintet of Australian Flame from last month’s IAAF World Championships will duel at the Mitchell Street Mile in Darwin (NT) this Sunday, in what has been dubbed the best field for a road race in Northern Territory history.
A joint project between Athletics NT and the Northern Territory Government, entry lists confirm the start of Australian 1500m record holder Ryan Gregson (Vic) and two-time Olympian Collis Birmingham (Vic) in the men’s race, while steeplechasers Genevieve LaCaze (Vic) and Madeleine Heiner (NSW) will start against 1500m specialist Melissa Duncan in the women’s event.
Genevieve La Caze
Genevieve LaCaze
“I love racing on the road as it offers much more variety than the track. The Mitchell Street Mile has a very strong line up with Australia’s best to run so that makes it a prestigious event to win,” Gregson said.
The race was launched last year, with elite race victory going to distance great Craig Mottram and cross country specialist Bridey Delaney, as more than 3500 spectators lined the main street of Darwin to witness the action.
This year’s event has been expanded to include a kids, masters and fancy dress race, as well as an event for defence and service personnel. A crowd of more than 5000 people is expected, with the prize money on offer surpassing $35,000, including $7500 for the winner of the elite men’s and women’s races.
Gregson will also have to contend with last year’s second place-getter Philo Saunders (ACT), plus the in-form Josh Wright (NSW) and Nick Toohey (Qld­).
“The prize money for this race is the biggest for any race that I’ve ever done in Australia. The aim is always to win, but a bit more is on the line with such a big purse,” Gregson added.
The women’s race will be a close encounter, with LaCaze, Heiner and Duncan all coming off solid performances at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing (CHN). They will be joined on the start line by Japanese national 800m champion Ruriko Kubo (JPN)
“This type of race is a great way for our group of professional athletes to finish off the season as we have been racing on the track all year in highly competitive and stressful meets,” LaCaze said.
“Road miles are always a lot of fun to race and with it being in Australia racing a domestic field will be a much more enjoyable atmosphere for us all.”
The Northern Territory Government has invested $120,000 in the event and has been instrumental in the establishment and growth of this premier mile road race, which is part of the Festivals NT program of arts, sporting and cultural events..
“We’re very pleased to again jointly stage this fantastic event, which is also a day of fun and participation for all ages and abilities,” Gary Higgins, Northern Territory Minister for Sport and Recreation, said.
“It is also a great opportunity to highlight the Northern Territory as a top class sporting destination and we’re very pleased to host some of Australia’s best runners.”
Ryan Gregson (Vic)
Collis Birmingham (Vic)
Josh Wright (NSW)
Nick Toohey (QLD)
Philo Saunders (ACT)
Michael Ryde (NT)
Darren Peacock (NT)
Tony Craig (NT)
Genevieve Lacaze (Vic)
Melissa Duncan (Vic)
Madeline Heiner (NSW)
Ruriko Kubo (JPN)
Pippa Featherstone (NT)
Andrea Foot (NT)
Joanne Stananrd (NT)
Lisa Allen (NT)
WHAT: Mitchell Street Mile
WHERE: Darwin, Northern Territory
WHEN3:30pm (ACST), Sunday 20 September
PRIZEMONEY: $35,000 total prize pool, including $7,500 first place