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Wellings chasing Willis as Australia’s most versatile women’s distance runner


By David Tarbotton

Sunday’s ASICS Half Marathon, part of the Gold Coast Airport marathon weekend, will be an opportunity for one of Australia’s most versatile distance runners, Eloise Wellings to improve her ranking.

In a recent analysis, by statistician David Tarbotton, of the five best performances by Australia’s leading women distance runners, Gold Coast Airport marathon ambassador, Benita Willis was revealed as the best all round distance runner in Australian history.

The highest ranked, still active athlete, is Sydney’s Eloise Wellings, who this weekend will contest just her third half marathon. As she races more and improves her ‘half’ best and eventually makes her marathon debut, she will progress up the list.

“I’m honoured to be on a list of such accomplished athletes,” Wellings said.

“For me, all of these girls above and below me on the list, have given and are still giving so much to the sport whether they are still competing or not. Obviously my goal is to just keep bettering myself and I believe I have a lot more to offer both on the track and especially on the roads.”

Wellings is currently preparing to represent Australia/Oceania on the 14th occasion at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing in August, where she will compete in the 5000m. She is Australia’s second fastest ever 3000m and 5000m runner.

Wellings hold list leader, Benita Willis in high esteem.

“I had the pleasure of training with Benita for some of her biggest and best races and the things I learned from her in those developing years have helped shape me as an athlete today. She really had it all, great turnover as a track runner- anyone running 30 something for a 10k on the track is just crazy good and then she had the endurance, the patience and the strength as a great marathoner as well – definitely something to aspire to.”

Willis is Australia’s only world cross country medallist and she placed top-eight on seven occasions. She is the Australian record holder for the 3000m, 5000m, 10,000m and marathon and competed for Australia on 23 occasions.

Second on the list is the late Kerryn McCann, from Wollongong. A dual Commonwealth Games marathon champion, she holds the national half marathon record. National 1500m record holder, Sarah Jamieson is rated third. Another athlete who is still active, is Madeleine Heiner, another Wollongong athlete.  Her achievement of 17 personal best over the last 16 months, indicates she is also set to rise up the list.

It is inevitable that Wellings will step out in the marathon.

“My plan is to just keep testing myself over the half marathon distance for the moment,” she said.

“I have no desire yet to run a marathon but I know it will come. But given that I want to stay on the track for next couple of years in the leadup to the Rio Olympics it might be a couple of years before I move to the marathon. But who knows, the focus is the world champs this year and then Olympics on the track next year and then maybe after that I’ll feel ready to go the distance!”

Australia’s best all round women’s distance runners

5984 points         Benita Willis (Q/V)

5800 points         Kerryn McCann (N)

5771 points         Sarah Jamieson (W/V)

5748 points        Lisa Martin (S)

5725 points         Eloise Wellings (N)

5691 points         Madeleine Heiner (N)

5671 points         Susie Power (V)

5628 points         Donna MacFarlane (T)

The Gold Coast Airport Marathon will be held this weekend, Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 July.

It is set to attract close to 27,000 participants of all ages and abilities across a number of events including the Gold Coast Airport Marathon, Wheelchair Marathon, ASICS Half Marathon, Wheelchair 15km, Southern Cross University 10km Run, Suncorp Bank 5.7km Challenge and 4km and 2km Junior Dash races.

To enter or for more information visit goldcoastmarathon.com.au