ATHLETES from Bendigo Region smashed times and featured highly in overall and age group placings in Sunday's running of the Nike Marathon, Nike Half Marathon and Sri Lankan Airlines 10km at the Melbourne Marathon festival.
Bendigo Harriers' clubmates Brady Threlfall and Jill Wilkie starred in the 42.2km marathon.
Threlfall clocked two hours 20.40 minutes to be eighth overall and fourth in the 30-34 years class.
The three-hour barrier was broken by Wilkie for the first time as she ran 2:56.09 to be in the running for a new Australian record for the 55-plus division.
The record is yet to be verified.
"It was an amazing day," Wilkie said.
"What stood out for me was the amazing camaraderie, not only by runners on the course, but support from friends, strangers, and family.
"I couldn't have done it without them, and of course without by my hubby and kids."
The lead-up to the marathon included plenty of training for Echuca-based Threlfall and Bendigo Bats team-mate Nathan Stoate.
A time of 2:21.53 put Stoate in 12th place in the standings and runner-up for the 20-24 age group.
Moama's Archie Reid ran the half-marathon (21.1km) in 1:06.38 to be eighth in a field of 4976 men.
The young gun from South Bendigo AC was third in the 20-24 years age group.
University's Brian McGinley finished strongly to be 10th in the 21.1km duel in 1:07.51.
A recent recruit for Uni Pride, Nikki Lesberg cut her personal best by 2 1/2 minutes as she ran the 10km in 36.30 to be fifth overall and first in the 30-34 class.
Personal bests were achieved by many Bendigo athletes in the ideal conditions.
More than 11,000 competed across various distances.
The festival is usually held in October, but was cancelled in 2020 and postponed until last Sunday because of COVID.
Threlfall was rapt with the result.
"I was really happy with how I executed the race plan," he said.
"The second half was only 11 seconds slower than the first, despite some hills," Threlfall said of the climbs between the 35km and 39km marks.
"It was great to be back in a mass participation event. Huge thanks to all the organisers who helped it go ahead."
Stoate was in the second pack throughout the race until the tough latter stages.
"I just worked with Brady and a few other guys in the pack.
"We all took turns of leading a couple of kms each. I was happy to hang on with solid splits towards the end," Stoate said of a huge personal best time.
Stephen Van Rees slashed his PB by five minutes to be 43rd in 2:37.38.
In the half-marathon, Reid was on pace for a PB until the 15km mark.
"I started to struggle up the last few hills.
"I was happy to come away with third in my age group."
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Reid's training focus now switches to next month's Zatopek 10.
Injury meant Bendigo Uni's gun distance runner Andy Buchanan did not compete, while illness forced Nathan Meade out of the marathon.
Bendigo Harriers' Jamie Cook set a personal best earlier in the year, but hip tightness forced him out before the 20km mark of Sunday's race.
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