Gen Gregson rules The Tan

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When there are no races, Gen Gregson goes time trialling

How are you adapting to the cancellation of races? And the new guidelines around exercising with your training partners? For most of us, it’s an inconvenience. Now, imagine you’re an Olympian, World Championships representative, and Australian Record holder. How would it impact you then?

For Gen Gregson, continuing to have goals is an important part of coping. One of those small and fun goals is taking down the fastest ever time at Melbourne’s home of running - The Tan. If you live in Melbourne or even if you’ve just visited, you’ve been for a run at The Tan. The 3.825km track (this is the distance listed on posts around The Tan, but GPS’ differ - don’t @ me) offers a bit of everything - long straight sections, a punishing hill, and a steady descent, all on mixed terrain.

At the starting point, and at the halfway point, two digital clocks list the 10 fastest ever times for men and women, with Craig Mottram (10:08 in 2006) famously holding the men’s crown and Sarah Jamieson (11:57 in 2006) owning the women’s. That is, until today.

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Pacer Sarah Billings
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Gregson with her coach Nic Bideau

Gen Gregson, Australia’s national record holder in the steeple, and our 10,000m National Champion, today lowered the fastest time to 11:54, after setting off with her Melbourne Track Club teammates Sinead Diver and Sarah Billings.

Billings took her teammates to the top of the famous Anderson Street Hill, before jogging back to the finish. The trio logged the first kilometre in 3:09, the second kilometre in 3:07, and the third in 3:05 (according to Gregson her GPS was acting up on the lap, so don’t treat these kilometre splits as gospel - the actual lap was timed by stopwatch at the start/finish).

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Billings leads the group toward the bottom of Anderson Street
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Ryan Gregson, Australia’s 1500m record holder (and more importantly to this story, Gen’s husband) was on a bike with some time updates as Gen approached the 3km mark.

As Gregson came into view of the finish with the time sitting around 11:30, her coach Nic Bideau yelled out updates every ten seconds.

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After what felt like an eternity waiting for those final 100m, Gregson crossed the line in 11:54, some 3 seconds faster than the previous time. Her first reaction? “That was so much harder than I was expecting it to be!”

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All of us have become accustomed over the past several weeks to taking the small bits of positive news where you can - for Gen that means finally having an answer to a common question in the Melbourne running scene.

“I didn’t grow up in Melbourne, so I’ve had to learn all about The Tan and I get asked so often what my fastest time is - I’d never actually done a fast lap until today, so at least now I can tell people ‘you see the time on the leaderboard - I went faster than that!'”

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As much fun as it is to run a hot lap around The Tan, Gregson seems to have already shifted her mindset to the prospect of an Olympics in 2021. As Nic Bideau looked on, Gen was full of faith in her coach.

“We (MTC) have the best coach in the world so I know that whenever the Olympics are on he will have us ready to go and we’ll be thankful that we got an extra 52 weeks; we’ll be even fitter.”

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