THE dominance of the Victorian Athletic League's open 1600m event by central Victorian athletes this season continued at Wangaratta last weekend.
In the midst of a career-best VAL season, Glenn McMillan notched up his second victory over the mile, starting off 125m to win in a time 4:09.877, about three-and-a-half seconds ahead of Terence Carter (4:13.165), with Liam Hanrahan (4:16.558) in third.
Bendigo's Ingrid Woodward, who won the previous week's open 1600m at the St Albans Gift finished eighth in 4:21.826 off 335m, after copping a 20m penalty for her victory.
It was McMillan's second open 1600m win this season following his victory at the Waverley Gift before Christmas when he pipped Woodward on the post.
His two wins have contributed to six in total by central Victorian athletes in the event this year.
Bendigo's Michael Preece, who won the John Coleman Mile at Hastings earlier this month, boasts two wins, while Woodward and Shepparton-based Andrew Sait have won one apiece.
Both McMillan, who is Echuca-based, but originally hails from Maryborough, and Sait are regular competitors in Bendigo during the cross country season.
The 29-year-old McMillan further represents the Bendigo Bats in the Athletics Victoria XCR Series, but runs for Shepparton during the summer.
He is stoked with how his 2021-22 VAL season is progressing.
"Having two wins and breaking two minutes for 800m has been good," he said.
"If the season ended today, I'd be really happy. I've done pretty much everything I've wanted to do.
"The only thing I have to do is break four minutes for 1600m and that's the ideal season completed."
Just like his overall season, McMillan could not have been any happier with how last weekend's race panned out.
"I couldn't have asked for Saturday's race to go any better than it did - it played out really well for me," he said.
"I pretty much worked with the group I was in, but with two laps to go, I made a bit of move to get away from the pack I was in.
"At that point, Terence Carter was about 20m ahead of me, so the goal was to chase him down over the next lap.
"It worked well, but I was probably about 30m off the lead with a lap to go, which doesn't happen too often in pro-running - it's usually a bit closer than that.
"But I put in a good spurt between 400m and 300m and after that I was pretty sure I had it in the bag.
"It's nice to just be able to enjoy the last couple of moments of a mile knowing you have it under control."
If the season ended today, I'd be really happy. I've done pretty much everything I've wanted to do.- Glenn McMillan
McMillan said it was great to see the central Victorians continuing to dominate over the mile.
He believed the fact regional athletes had been spared the longer and harsher lockdowns endured by their metropolitan counterparts last year had certainly played a part in their strong performances on the track.
"I feel we have all just had really good training periods throughout lockdown and had that ability to go out and consistently complete our sessions and get our runs in and not have to miss out on too much," he said.
"Compared with some of the people I know in Melbourne, they have been affected and been in close contact and had to isolate for up to two weeks at a time.
"For a distance runner, it's great to have that couple of months of more consistent training behind us.
"We've probably been luckier up here in Bendigo and central Vic."
A school teacher, McMillan is busily preparing in between runs and training for the start of another school year at St Mary's Primary School in Echuca.
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