For Sinead Diver, a stellar 2018 culminates with the Melbourne Marathon
Sinead Diver is riding a wave that doesn’t look like breaking any time soon. The Irish-born Australian has had a career year in 2018, breaking the tape four times this road season and setting PB’s from the 10k to the ½ marathon.
Her only ‘losses’ this year have come at the hands of world class competition; a second to Sara Hall at the Gold Coast ½ marathon (Diver ran a 1:09:53 for her first sub-70), and a 23rd place finish as Australia’s best placed runner at the World ½ Marathon Championships in Valencia in March.
It’s an incredible season; 4 wins, 4 PB’s, 4 course records, and the national title for the ½ marathon (1:09:20).
But as special as the season has been, these moments have all led to the 2018 Melbourne Marathon. It’s Diver’s 3rd time racing her (adopted) hometown marathon, twice finishing 2nd (2014 and 2016), and there’s no doubt she’s in the shape to go one better in 2018.
“I have a love-hate relationship with Melbourne Marathon. I debuted here in 2014 and had such a positive experience. However, I raced it again in 2016 and unfortunately things didn’t go to plan, and it ended up being one of my toughest races ever.
Melbourne is a fast course and it’s produced some world class times over the years. My only concern is the weather, as it can be very unpredictable. I’m hoping for a cool, calm day on Sunday as I’d really like to aim for a fast time, but if conditions aren’t favourable, my focus will switch to aiming for the win.”
If Diver feels any pressure lining up at the Melbourne Marathon, she’s not showing it. Legend of the sport Sonia O’Sullivan recently penned an article for the Irish Times claiming that she expects Diver to shave at least 1 minute and 38 seconds from her marathon PB and go sub 2:30.
"I generally race by feel and aim to sit on a pace that is comfortably hard. This race is a little different as I’ll have a pacer, so I need to give him an indication of pace beforehand. This isn’t set in stone though so I can let him know during the race if we need to adjust."
Fuelling Diver’s assault on the marathon will be the knowledge that she’s had a near flawless 2018 from both a racing and training perspective, stacking blocks of work on top of each other with no injuries since 2016.
“I’ve been very fortunate this year as I haven’t had any major injury concerns so I’ve been able to string a solid block of training together. This consistency has really helped me improve over the last few months.
My average weekly mileage sits around 130-140km and this increases to 180km when I’m in marathon training.”
Lining up beside Diver on the start line will be prodigious talent Jack Rayner. Rayner, the 22 year old who claimed the Gold Coast ½ marathon victory earlier in the year and who just days ago won the Commonwealth ½ marathon title in Cardiff, Wales, has seemingly mirrored most of Diver’s results in 2018 in winning any capital city road race in Australia.
“Sinead has had a phenomenal year so far running PB’s in almost every race she has done.
It’s really exciting to see what she can do next and I’m looking forward to playing a small part in that”.
Back at the Great Ocean Road 14k in May, windy conditions meant none of the elite males wanted to put their nose in the wind. This saw Diver running at the front of the race for large parts, shoulder-to-shoulder with Rayner. These were the first seeds in an eventual plan for Rayner to pace Diver at Melbourne Marathon.
“It’s awesome to have Jack pacing me. We’re in the same training group and we’ve raced so many races together this year, I’ve gotten to know him quite well. He’s a really great guy, very consistent and reliable so I know I can trust him on the day.”
There’s a certain freedom in knowing you’ve done the work when you’re stand on the starting line. Freedom to run your race free of doubt, free of fear, and comfortable with the memories of those final crucial sessions; the tough tempo effort, the hill reps, and the last long run.
Sinead Diver will line up at the Melbourne Marathon fuelled with the confidence from everything she’s achieved this year, and the hunger that drives her towards Tokyo 2020.
“My focus for 2019 will be geared around qualification for Tokyo 2020. Race choice is so important as the IAAF selection policy has changed. My plan is to race a fast and flat overseas marathon so that's another reason why it's nice to race Melbourne this year.”
By the time the winner crosses the line at the Melbourne Marathon we’ll either be celebrating the perfect end to Diver’s 2018 season, or marvelling at the challenger who manages to defeat her, because it will take something special.