Four-time Olympian Steve Moneghetti, patron of the upcoming
Great Ocean Road International Marathon, believes the iconic race
has shed its "Mt.Everest-stylemental barrier" and is now a
realistic goal for most aspiring distance runners.
"When it was first held back in 2005, it was like climbing
Mt.Everest," Moneghetti said of the 45.3km spectacular trek from
Lorne to Apollo Bay, an undulating twisting-turning route which is
3.1kms longer than the standard marathon distance.
"Most of the competitors were initially interested in their time
for the actual marathon distance and then pressed on to Apollo Bay
as best they could to complete the course.
"That's changed. It's now an established event and people
have it on their bucket list as something they want to do, many of
them every year.
It's no longer a novelty, it's now its own unique race and
should not be compared with other marathons."
The incredible Moneghetti, who will celebrate his
50th birthday in September, will embark upon a gruelling
campaign at the six-event Great Ocean Road Real Estate-sponsored
distance running festival over the weekend of May 19 - 20.
He will contest the Mizuno 6km Apollo Bay-Marengo dash on the
Saturday morning, then line up in the Geelong Advertiser 14km
Apollo Bay-Paradise run in the afternoon, an event he won in course
record time in 2006.
On Saturday evening, he will be the guest-of-honor at the TAC
Pasta Night in Lorne, then contest the Fagg's Mitre 10 23km
half-marathon from Kennett River to Apollo Bay on the Sunday
For only the second time in the eight years, Moneghetti will
skip the 45.3km marathon, a decision that has little to do with the
fact that the event will boast the strongest line-up of African
stars in its eight-year history.
The immensely-popular Moneghetti has nothing to hide.
During his outstanding career as a "serious" athlete, he contested
22 marathons at the highest level, with a personal best time of 2
hours 8 minutes 16 seconds in winning Berlin in 1990.
He finished third in the world championship in thens n 1997 and
earned gold, silver and bronze medals at three Commonwealth Games.
Thrice he set world records for the half-marathon with a best time
of 60 minutes 6 seconds.
His most satisfying result in four Olympic marathons was fifth
place in Seoulin 1988, and in his last major international marathon
he ran into 10th place at the Sydney Games in 2000.
Since his "retirement," he has participated in 19 more
marathons, including six along the Great Ocean Road, but skips
along at his own pace, running up alongside surprised ordinary
competitors, giving encouragement and advice.
He is justly revered among the athletics fraternity, but admits
to disappointment that the formidable and traditional 6.5km Apollo
Bay to Marriner's Lookout hike has been cut from the Great Ocean
Road Marathon festival program this year.
Moneghetti set the course record of 19mins 54 secs in 1987 and
88 when it was a highlight of the amazing Great Otway Classic, a
three-day teams event conducted over the Queen's Birthday weekend
from 1980 -95.
"My course record is there for posterity, but before I take off
for Marengo this year I might have a minute's silence, just quietly
by myself," he lamented.
"Although I don't know why. My legs used to be smashed on the
Sunday morning after going up and down Marriner's.
"The changes in the format are great, including the new Kids'
Gallop. It's a big family weekend now. Everybody leaves their
inhibitions behind and professional careers and money when they
head down to Apollo Bay for the marathon weekend."
While Moneghetti will revel in the atmosphere of a Great Ocean
Roadwhich will be closed to traffic while the marathon and
half-marathon are in progress on Sunday, May 20, for many the
spoils of victory and personal conquest are high on their
Four Kenyans and an Ethiopian will spearhead the largest African
raid on the marathon since it was first held in 2005.
The record number of top-level Africans in the race include two
previous winners, Kenyans Charles Muturi (2009) and last year's
victor James Kipkelwon who set a course record of 2hours 27minutes
Kenyan Daniel Mweli, who finished second last year in 2.31.01
after dropping off the fierce early pace, will also return for
another tilt at the marathon.
Up-and-coming Ethiopian Sisay Kisaye, who has a personal best
half-marathon time of 62minutes, will help ensure a cracking tempo
over the first 22kms to Kennett River.
Kisaye, 21, will join versatile Kenyan Nathan Kariuki, 29, as
first-timers in the event which will start at 8am on Sunday, May
20, at the Lorne Hotel.
Marathon director John Craven said that, given reasonable
conditions, Kipkelwon's course record seemed certain to be
"This is by far the best line-up of Africans the Great Ocean
Road Marathon has been privileged to accommodate," Craven said.
"We will witness a world class race in breathtaking scenery on
aGreat Ocean Roadwhich will be free of regular traffic."
Craven said the two new events - the 6km flat run from Apollo
Bay to Marengo and back and the 1.5km Tifosi Eyewear Kids' Gallop
in the Apollo Bay township - would kick off the festival on
Saturday, May 19.
The Kids' Gallop, initiated to honour marathon founder Les
Noseda who died last year, will raise funds for the Apollo Bay
The two other Saturday events will be the 14km TAC Wheelchair
Athletes' Challenge fromApolloBaytoParadiseand back, and the
Geelong Advertiser run over the same course.
Craven said the marathon festival hoped to reach the 4000
entries barrier for the first time.
Entries close May 7. The marathon festival is supported by
Participants can enter online at www.greatoceanroadmarathon.com.au