28 September 2023 – From Bathurst to Budapest and now to Riga, Australia’s top distance athletes continue their hunt for global medals at their third major championships of 2023, as they take on the inaugural World Athletics Road Running Championships this Sunday.
Against the backdrop of the Latvian capital, six athletes will be crowned world champion of the roads at the world premiere event, with more than 300 of the best runners competing in the disciplines of road mile, 5km and half marathon.
Team Australia will bring a mix of experienced and up-and-coming talent to Latvia, with 13 of the nation’s strongest distance stars determined to leave an indelible mark on the landmark championships.
Off the back of one of her best seasons to date, Jessica Hull (NSW) is in contention to add another global medal to her collection in the road mile after starting her year with mixed relay bronze at the World Athletics Cross Country Championships in Bathurst and continuing with Oceania records in the 3000m and track mile.
“When we looked at World Cross Country through to the World Championships in Budapest and then with World Road Running at the end of the tunnel, we saw three opportunities to perform in a championship this year,” Hull said.
“Always having Riga as the goal posts at the end of the season has kept me excited and the momentum going. I haven’t felt like I am ready to be done yet and we have used this year to learn how have such a long season – finding out how to do enough to hold fitness and not losing fitness by the day.”
Eager to mix it with the best in her shot at the very first medals on offer in the event, Hull will be up against some of her fiercest competitors she’s faced all year, including Kenyan great Faith Kipyegon who made headlines this year with her 1500m world record, as well as world titles in the 1500m and 5000m in Budapest.
“Looking at the entry lists and seeing that Kenya and Ethiopia are sending their best, and people like Nozomi Tanaka are going to be there; it’s pretty cool to see countries supporting this event. It’s the first time the Road Mile and the 5km have been included, and you need the superstars of the sport for World Athletics to turn around and keep it going,” Hull said.
While Hull will be pushed by her international counterparts, the Australian lineup for the mile will also include senior debutant Sarah Billings (VIC), while 2023 World Athletics Championships representative Matthew Ramsden (WA) and Jack Anstey (NSW) don the green and gold in the Men’s event.
Also making a bid for the first global medals over the shorter distances, King Island product Stewart McSweyn (TAS) gets ready to take on the 5km event alongside compatriot Morgan McDonald (NSW).
The Oceania 3000m record holder has shown great form in 2023 despite battling injury and he’ll be looking to end the year on a high as he returns to race the distance on the roads for the first time since 2017. Claiming the Australian 2000m record last month, McSweyn will now be knock down another of distance legend Craig Mottram’s national claims as he looks to close in on the 13:20 mark.
With only three races under his belt this year, McDonald is ready to announce himself on the road scene, while World Athletics Championships representative Lauren Ryan (VIC) takes on the Women’s event, and Caitlin Adams (SA) makes her return to the green and gold having contested the World Athletics Cross Country Championships earlier this year.
Five more athletes will feature in the Australian team, as Olympian Isobel Batt-Doyle (SA) backs up in the half marathon just over a month after completing double the distance in Budapest, alongside teammates Sinead Noonan (WA) and Tara Palm (SA). With US$30,000 on offer for the first male and female athlete across the line, the trio will work together over the distance, with team placings decided by the aggregate of each country’s first three athletes to cross the line. Australian road runners Ed Goddard (NSW) and Tim Vincent (QLD) will race prominently for the men.
Athletics Australia General Manager, Andrew Faichney said he looks forward to seeing these athletes shine in what will be the culmination of a year’s worth of work.
“This year has been a season like no other for our elite athletes across all disciplines, and there is no reason that this contingent of 13 distance runners can’t continue on this success in Riga,” Faichney said.
“While the fields at this inaugural event will be white-hot, this group have a proven track record of success and I am confident that their start in these championships will give them the extra boost of motivation and confidence going into the all-important Olympic year.”
The 2023 World Athletics Road Running Championships will be broadcast live and free via the World Athletics Inside Track platform. To register for an Inside Track account, click here.
Australian Team for the World Athletics Road Running Championships in Riga, Latvia
30 September – 1 October
1 Mile – Matthew Ramsden (WA), Jack Anstey (NSW)
5km – Stewart McSweyn (TAS), Morgan McDonald (NSW)
Half Marathon – Ed Goddard (NSW), Tim Vincent (QLD)
1 Mile – Jessica Hull (NSW), Sarah Billings (VIC)
5km – Lauren Ryan (VIC), Caitlin Adams (SA)
Half Marathon – Isobel Batt-Doyle (SA), Sinead Noonan (WA), Tara Palm (SA)
*NB: Riley Cocks (SA) was initially selected for the World Athletics Road Running Championships in the Half Marathon but has since withdrawn.