Jack Rayner has written his name into history with a win in the inaugural Commonwealth Half Marathon Championships held in Cardiff over night.
Australia appeared on the podium in every event with Celia Sullohern winning silver in the women’s event and the Australian teams second in the men’s and women’s sections.
With a personal best of 63:12 minutes and facing competition from three sub 61-minute Kenyans, Rayner was an outside medal hope.
“I went into the race with no expectations,” Rayner said.
“My coach (Nic Bideau) told me to go with the front pack and stick on for as long as possible and kick down in the last 1km. Which is exactly what I did.”
Rayner passed 10km in a super quick 28:47 sitting in the lead pack of four athletes – Fred Musobo UGA, Timothy Tororitich UGA and defending champion and race record holder, Kenya’s John Lotiang.
Between 10km and 15km the pace quickened, Rayner himself clocking 4:39.
“There were a few surges throughout the race so as long as I kept contact the pace would ease up in parts.”
The next 5km was a challenge for Rayner as he slowed to 4:47 for the 5km split and at the 20km mark had dropped three seconds behind Musobo.
“Going into the last 4km was the hardest part but with the huge crowds on the street it made it a little easier.”
But over the last 1.1km Rayner kicked home, clocking 2:55 minutes, well ahead of Toroitich (3:02), Musobo (3:03) and Lotiang (3:13).
Rayner hit the finish line in a breakthrough time of 61:01, seven seconds ahead of Musobo, and 16 ahead of Toroitich.
“It’s definitely the biggest race of my career so far,” said Rayner who sliced 2:11 minutes from his previous best.
He also shot up the Australian all-time list from 24th to fifth. It was the fastest time by an Australian for five years and only Collis Birmingham has run quicker in the last 18 years.