Australian runners have been doing us proud for decades so we decided to put together an article celebrating their successes! We're not sure if there is a medal hanger big enough for the athletes listed below!
We kick off with cancer survivor Janette Murray-Wakelin and her partner Alan Murray, two raw-food fanatics who in 2013 ran 15,782km in 365 marathons around the country. The 60+ years young couple ran a 366th marathon on January 1st, 2014, and in doing so set a Guinness Book of World Records mark for most consecutive races!
(Image source: http://www.runningrawaroundaustralia.com)
Cliff Young was a potato farmer from Beech Forest, who at 61 years old, won the very first Sydney to Melbourne Ultramarathon in 1983. After attempting to break the world record of 1,000 miles in 11 days the previous year, Young had to drop out after 500 miles when his only crew member fell sick. That didn't slow the senior down, however, as he began training for the now defunct Ultramarathon. Donning gumboots, he told the press he spent 2-3 days before the race rounding up sheep. At a distance of 875km, Mr. Young ran at a slow and steady pace, even as others slept, finishing a full 10 hours ahead of his competition and taking home first place. His motivation? Picturing those sheep and him running in gumboots! The next year, the harrowed champion received the Medal of Order of Australia and even had a 1,000km race named and after him. Mr. Young passed away in 2003 at age 81, but not before a memorial in the form of a gumboot, a street and a park being named after the local distance runner. He is said to have run 10,000km in his competitive career.
(Image source: The Australian)
In 2004 at the World Cross Country Championships, Benita Johnson from Mackay, Queensland, won gold in the long distance race. Having competed in 4 Olympic games, she also competed twice for the country in the Commonwealth games and won a variety of other medals for her efforts. Her accomplishments include a team bronze at the 2006 and 2008 IAAF World Cross Country Championships and winning the Berlin Half Marathon in 2007. Her training partner, Craig Mottram, is known best for the 2005 World Championships in Athletics in Helsinki where he became the first non-African born racer to medal when he took home bronze in the 5000m competition.
(Image source: clancycoaching.com.au)
Steve Moneghetti dominated marathons in the 1980's and 1990's. With a bronze finish in the 1986 Edinburgh marathon, Moneghetti went on to represent the country in four Olympics, with his best finish fifth in the 1988 Seoul Games. However, he left quite a mark on individual races during the 1990's, including a silver in the 1990 Auckland, a gold in the 1992 Victoria dash and another bronze in the 1998 Kuala Lumpur relay. Moneghetti stopped racing for the homeland in 2000, but pops up occasionally in sprints around the country, including in 2010 where he set a time record at the Park2Park 10 km race in Queensland.
(Image source: news.com.au)
Robert de Castella set a world record for out-and-back courses in 1981 when he won the 1981 Fukuoka Marathon with a time of just 2:08:18. De Castella would go onto win the 1982 Commonwealth Games gold in Brisbane as well as at the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki before repeating the Commonwealth feat again at the 1986 Games in Edinburgh. Deeks, as he's known around the country, failed to finish the 1987 World Athletics Championships marathon and by 1993 he had retired from competitive racing. In 2014, de Castella was awarded the Officer of the Order of Australia and is now famed for running Deeks Health Foods, specializing in grain and gluten-free foods. Deeks held the record for the fastest marathon run in Australia for 32 years until Kenyan, Silah Limo, shaved four seconds off of it at the Gold Coast Marathon earlier this year.
(Image source: www.runnerstribe.com)
Finally, though he may not of medaled, or even finished competitively, a special shout-out to one of our favourite racers: Jacob French. In 2010, French ran the RunMelbourne Half Marathon in a Stormtrooper costume, and while his experience was memorable, it's what happened next that is great. To raise money and awareness for the Starlight Children’s Foundation, which provides sick kids in hospitals with entertainment, French walked 3,100km across Australia in the same outfit. Not only did the man go through 7 pairs of shoes and shed 26 pounds, but he raised $100,000 for the charity as well. Good on ya Jacob!
(Image source: Paul Kane, Getty Images)
There were so many inspirational stories that we would have loved to share but we ran out of space! Share your favourite stories of Australian runners below!