Commonwealth marathon champion Michael Shelley will be aiming for a place in the history books when he makes his debut in the Bupa Great South Run on 26 October by becoming the first Australian man to win the IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
Fellow Queenslander Benita Johnson won the elite women’s race in 2004, the year she took the world cross-country title in Brussels, but no male Australian athlete has managed to prevail in the 25-year history of the Portsmouth race.
“Ten miles is a great little distance to race,” said Shelley. “It’s in between the 10km and the half marathon, so you can really push yourself. I’m looking forward to the ten mile challenge. It should be a great event.
“I love running in these mass participation races. I enjoy listening to the experiences of people who run for charities and other reasons. It’s just as exciting for them as it is on the elite side.”
Shelley became the first non-African winner of the Commonwealth men’s marathon title for 20 years when he overhauled Kenya’s Stephen Chemlany towards the end of a gripping 26.2 mile race in Glasgow in August, setting a PB of 2:11:15.
The 31-year-old returned to the scene of his Commonwealth triumph earlier this month, finishing fifth in the Great Scottish Run half marathon in Glasgow. It was his first race against Haile Gebrselassie, who dropped out after three miles, and Shelley is hoping that the great Ethiopian recovers from his asthmatic problems to join him in the Great South Run.
“I’ve always been in awe of Haile,” said Shelley. “Growing up in Australia, I watched all of those world records he ran, and that great battle he had with Paul Tergat at the Sydney Olympics.
“He’s the greatest of all time. It was an absolute honour just to meet him in Glasgow.”
The line-up for the elite men's field at the 2014 Bupa Great South Run also includes European 10,000m silver medallist Andy Vernon. European 10,000m champion Jo Pavey, who was due to head the field in the women's race, has unfortunately had to withdraw through injury.
Organisers for the IAAF