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Bridging finance for elites

B&E Hobart Run the Bridge, February 14 

There is something about Tasmania and 10km road races. Back in the 80s the Burnie10 was the main race – an unofficial national championship - with all the best runners whether it be Mona, Lloydy or Ondieki heading to the coastal town to run.

Then in the past decade the Launy 10 has emerged as a race that encourages the nation’s elite runners to test themselves out on a flat, fast course and pays considerable prizemoney.

But it now has a rival with the B&E Hobart Run the Bridge this year upping the ante and boasting a field that would rival Zatopek night and a similar $3000 purse for the winner.

According to Epic Events and Marketing owner and race director Richard Welsh, the men’s field alone has 15 sub-30minute 10k runners.

“I guess strategically there’s a bit of a battle to put on a great 10k across the nation and to continue to be at the top you have to invest to maintain that premier event status,” Welsh said.

“Many coaches and managers have been great supporters such as Nic Bideau, Dick Telford, Adam Didyk, Ken Hall and Craig Mottram all getting behind it, so we’ve assembled our best field ever this year.

“There’s still a few key athletes that we’ll announce later this week, but we’ve got  some pretty big names already with Michael Shelley, Craig Mottram and Jess Trengove running and some handy internationals with England’s Andy Vernon, Japan’s Yoshita Iwamizu and Great Britain’s Charlotte Purdue – who all have been training at Falls Creek with Bideau’s squad."

Since last week Welsh has added regular winner Liam Adams, Amsterdam marathon podium star Milly Cark and his biggest coup - Zatopek champion Eloise Wellings.

Wellings is coming off a PB half marathon of 69min29sec last week in Marugame, Japan.

“I pulled up well from my race in Japan on Sunday, so I’m good to go and excited to race in Hobart,” Wellings said.  

The Bridge Run was originally started in 2010 when three triathletes (t3 events) won permission to stage a race that starts on the Clarence side of Hobart and passes all of Hobart’s iconic spots. Welsh initially handled the elite athletes for them, but in 2015 bought ownership outright.

“When the guys set up the race their intention was to take in all the iconic spots of Hobart with a start at Bellerive Oval, the Tasman Bridge and a finish through town past Sullivan’s Cove, Waterman’s dock and Salamanca,” Welsh said.

“We are incredibly lucky that we can access two lanes of the Tasman Bridge. The department of state growth say that the Tasman Bridge is the busiest piece of infrastructure in Tasmania. When the Chinese president came last year they closed a lane for him and this year there’s a lane closed for a cycle event (Ride the Night), but other than that it’s a no-go zone for events.”  

While race numbers across the nation slowed in 2015, Welsh has been pleased to see an increase for his event with more than 2000 entries already and with the expected late flurry, he hopes to surpass the 2014 record of 2851 entries.

This year Welsh will trial a new concept with the elite men handicapped to start 4min 12sec behind the elite women and a bonus $1000 on offer for the winner.

“It’s a concept I’ve been brewing for a while,” Welsh said. “I was up at the GC marathon sitting with some athletes spitballing and a few said it would be awesome to race in what is like a battle of the sexes. We’ve based the handicaps on our race records – which are Liam Adams (2014 - 29.03) and Lisa Weightman  (2012 – 33.15), so it should be pretty close at the finish.”

One of those Welsh was chin-wagging with was Wellings, who now shapes as the likely winner of the battle.

“It’s exciting and I love the concept of battle of the sexes.  Starting in front of the main field will mean we’re just running as fast as we can the whole time and it will take the tactics out of it,” Wellings said.

Entries are still open until Friday 12th February at www.hobartrunthebridge.com.au