History made at Australia's 10,000m National Championships
This just in - all future Zatopek meets will be held at Box Hill, after an incredible night of racing at the back-up venue on Saturday evening. Long renowned by insiders as one of the fastest tracks in Victoria, Box Hill held its end of the bargain, paving the way for Stewy McSweyn's sensational performance.
But first, the women's race and the chance to crown a new champion - Gen Gregson went in favourite but still had question marks around her staying power over the distance. Emily Brichacek and Andrea Seccafien could also lay claims - depending on how the race played out. Seccafien is a Canadian Olympian in the 5,000m and a training partner of Gregson.
The early pace in this one was relaxed, as no one wanted to take the lead. South Australian Tara Palm and local runner Tamara Quinn swapping off the front for the first half dozen laps.
It happens gradually at first, as one group loses touch, decoupling from the pack. From there, slowly but surely one runner at a time starts to lose one metre, then another, until we have one very clearly defined front group.
Abi Nordberg, Kiah Fry, Katie Gamble and Nera Jareb formed a strong second pack just back from the front group, while Natalie Rule held on to the leaders for the moment. Sarah Marvin, the second youngest athlete in the field, was also fighting to keep touch.
The lead pack of 8 split halfway in 16:57.19.
With 8 laps remaining it was down to 4. Brichacek still doing the work up the front, with Gregson, Seccafien, and the youngster Rose Davies all right there. The 19 year old Davies showing a huge amount of promise for the future.
Davies was finally dropped from the lead pack with 5.5 laps remaining, setting it up for a 3 way showdown to the finish between Brichacek, Gregson, and Seccafien.
At the bell it was Seccafien, Gregson, and Brichacek, with the latter dropped with 300m to go. Seccafien led around the back until Gregson drew level at the 100m mark and went on to win in 32:47.83. Seccafien second in 32:48.30, Brichacek third in 32:57.58.
This was looking like a very deep race on paper, but as we know very few races are run on paper. Patrick Tiernan, Stewy McSweyn, Harry Summers, Jack Bruce, all looked like chances here, with the most interesting battle being the one between McSweyn and MTC teammate Tiernan.
Brett Robinson and Jordy Williamsz were tasked with leading the early stages of the race; Robinson to pull out after 3,000m while Williamsz would take the leaders through halfway as close to 13:45 as possible.
By the time Robinson stepped off the track with 16 laps remaining, only McSweyn, Tiernan, and Harry Summers remained at the front.
By the time Williamsz stepped off the track, Summers had been gapped.
Tiernan and McSweyn passed halfway in 13:46.15 - just outside the Olympic standard of 27:28.00 and now without anyone pacing up front.
Tiernan and McSweyn started running into lap traffic just past halfway, their long loping strides seeming to cover the ground effortlessly. McSweyn was content to sit just off the heels of Tiernan on the outside of lane 1.
McSweyn executed the perfect race; he didn't see the wind until the bell rang, and then put in a blistering final 400m to set a new Australian record of 27:23.80 - securing his 3rd straight Zatopek title and an Olympic qualifier.
Post race, McSweyn paid tribute to Tiernan's run, and also exchanged words with the man he took the record off, Australian running royalty Ben St Lawrence.