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Coleman and Mori lead the Tigers roar at Albert Park, writes James Sullivan.

Richmond Harriers put in an improved showing this morning at the Albert Park 10km Road Race in South Melbourne. In the men’s event, four tiger athletes ranked in the top 100, with James Coleman the first home in 32:02.4 to finish in 22nd place overall. The steeplechase specialist, who is currently on an athletics scholarship with the University of North Texas in the USA, edged out serial club leader Joji Mori, who finished two places further back, with a clocking of 32:13.2.

“I sort of stuck in with a few bunches during the race and that helped me get through towards the end” said Mori, a five-time Richmond club champion. “There were two different bunches that sort of broke up half way through. That was the way to run the race, to pretty much hang on to people and try get to the end.”

Simon Austen put in a strong performance to finish 72nd in 34:17.3, while relative newcomer Tyson Kingston, continued his impressive progress with a personal best mark of 35:03.2 to finish in 97th.

“My plan was to go out at three and a half minute pace and see if I could hold it” remarked a delighted Kingston afterwards. “For the first 5km I was tagging along behind Simon Austen and we were tracking alright. The last 5km I dropped off a little bit. He got about 30 seconds ahead of me in the end, but all in all I was pretty happy.”

The race began outside Lakeside Stadium, involved two out-and-back laps, before finishing inside the home of Victorian track and field. However, despite the flat nature of the course, conditions still posed a challenge for Kingston.

“The track was quite flat and going back out towards the turnaround point you had a bit of a tailwind, but it was pretty hard tracking back, which you had to do twice. I tried to keep in with a pack and sit behind some tall guys which provided some protection from the wind.”

Richmond Harriers, which last month celebrated its centenary, has been struggling to be competitive during the Athletics Victoria XCR13 season to date due to low numbers, but this morning’s performances indicate that things are moving in the right direction.

“It’s better than it has been for a few weeks” commented Paul Beavais, who was the fifth harrier home with a time of 37:10.8 for 170th place overall. “Obviously it could be better if we could get everyone out on the right day, but it’s often impossible to do that.”

“This race has been the best all year” added Kingston. “Each race we’ve sort of had three strong runners and we’ve had three guys who are maybe racing in the masters but have had to drop into the seniors to fill the numbers. Having James Coleman back for this race was excellent. We had quite a deep team today”.

There was also success in the women’s race as Briony Shaw finished with a highly encouraging clocking of 37:50.9 to finish in 20th place. Shaw, who holds the club junior records for 1500m, 3000m, 5000m and Half Marathon, has recently made a comeback to the sport after a brief absence, and this performance augers well ahead of the remainder of the winter season.

However, despite the improved showing, Joji Mori acknowledged the need to get more juniors into the club.

“Obviously the big help is having juniors. I don’t necessarily mean teenagers and kids, but it’s more like the 18 year olds, 19 year olds, those who are just out of school, looking to find a hobby. Running is a good one and at that age if you start running then you can become a pretty good distance runner. A club like Richmond would do well getting that kind of age group involved.”

Another issue hampering the club of late has been the loss of prominent athletes to higher profile clubs. “Sometimes there are circumstances you can’t do anything about” conceded Beavais. “Occasionally you question why people have to leave and go to another club, but that’s just the way it is.”

The Albert Park 10km Road Race is part of Athletics Victoria’s ten event long winter XCR13 season, which draws athletes from all over the state to races over a variety of distances, on both the road and cross-country. The men’s race was taken out by Mitchel Brown of Athletics Essendon, in a time of 29:52.2, while Moscow bound Nikki Chapple from Box Hill was a comfortable victor in the women’s event, clocking 32:41.1.

 

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