IRISH-BORN mum Sinead Diver smashed Lisa Weightman’s Melbourne Marathon race record and showed the world that 40 is not too old when it comes to marathoning.
The 41-year, who only took up running eight years ago, was mobbed by her boys – Eddie 9 and Dara 5, as well as husband Colin – as she crossed the finish line in 2:25.19 to pick up a $20,000 record bonus on top of her $20,000 first place prize.
More than 30,000 runners took part in Victoria’s premier running festival and the elite got the benefits of completing the course before the wind picked up and the heat took its toll as temperatures soared into the mid twenties.
Diver had the benefit of a three-man pacing group for much of the way, but when two colleagues dropped off she had to ask emerging Victorian distance runner Jack Rayner, who only got off a plane from the Cardiff Commonwealth half marathon titles on Friday, to continue beyond 32km.
“He (Rayner) was an absolute legend, I wouldn’t have done it with him,” Diver said. “When we were heading up St Kilda Rd the wind was picking up and he just said no worries, I’ll go a bit further.
“By the time we reached 37km, he said ‘you are fine, you’re killing it, you don’t need me to help you’.”
As with Weightman in 2013, Diver picked up her tempo in the last 5km to smash her best time by more than six minutes and obliterate a number of significant records.
Her time was the fastest ever by an Australian on home soil and only three other Australian women have run faster overseas. It qualifies her for next year’s world titles in Doha, although the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 are more prominently in her mind with London next year her most likely route.
And then there were a litany of age records that come with being a “veteran”. She smashed the Australian over 40 record, missed out on the world age record by less than a minute, was the equal-oldest winner in race history and finished nearly 22 minutes ahead of second-placed female Rochelle Rodgers.
“It’s been by far my best year and I really wanted to cap it off with a huge marathon. To have all of the support here has been amazing,” she said.
“Because I started so late I don’t have a lot of kilometres in my legs and I think that makes a big difference.”
Coached by Tim Crosbie at Albert Park with the South Melbourne team, Diver has also been mentored by Nic Bideau and his Irish wife Sonia O’Sullivan this year.
It’s been an extraordinary rise for Diver, who moved to Australia from county Mayo on the west coast of Ireland on a working holiday in 2002 and still works in IT.
After her first child, she took part in a corporate day run around the Tan on a bit of a whim with her sister Grainne back in 2010 and she clocked an amazing 13.30. That saw her join the Crosbie Crew and since then it’s been a gradual rise through the ranks.
It proved an Aussie double with Rio Olympian Liam Adams, an Essendon athlete, the first across the line in 2:15.13, more than a minute clear of Kenyan Dominic Ondoro (2:16.55), who had won the race in 2013, the last time Adams had run Melbourne.
After making a break at the halfway point, Adams appeared to be cruising to victory before a toe injury slowed him in the final 5km.
“I was very happy with the pace early, but I paid for it a bit later when the nail on my little toe starting digging into my foot. I ended up limping home the final 2km,” Adams said.
“That’s why I kept looking around to see where Ondoro was.”