10/02/2019   Adelaide (AUS): Perseus Karlstrom and Sandra Arenas won the Oceania Open

With the large international contingent of walkers coming off the AIS based Supernova camp in Canberra last month, the 20km fields were large and of high quality. Overall, 14 women and 34 men had entered the Oceania and Australian Open 20km Summer Championships, along with 13 young walkers (7 men and 6 women) in the U20 10km Championships.

Conditions were perfect (cool and overcast) for the 7AM start time in the North Adelaide Parklands and the cloud cover stayed in place for the duration of the race, ensuring perfect conditions. I noted that at the end of the race, the temperature was still only reading 16C.
20km men
Australian Dane Bird-Smith, in his first race for some time, strode to the lead, confidently building up to a lead that had extended to 30 seconds by the 6km mark, reached in 24:30. Behind him, a large chasing pack had headed out at a more sedate pace, some 30 secs behind. 
Soon after thed 6km mark, Evan Dunfee (CAN) and Perseus Karlstrom (SWE) decided the lead was big enough, increasing their pace and gradually drawing away from the large group as they started the long chase.
Dane passed the 10km mark in 40:49, his lead now reduced to around 20 secs to Perseus, Evan having dropped back. By 12km, the gap was down to 15 secs and by 16km, it was Perseus in front. From there, he stormed home to what turned out to be a comfortable 30 sec win, his third in a row in this championship. 
Victory to Perseus Karlstrom (SWE) in 1:20.05
Second place to Dane Bird-Smith (AUS) in 1:20:52
Third place to Eider Arevalo (COL) in 1:21:26
20km women
The women's race developed in a much different way, with the main contenders all heading out together - Jemima Montag (AUS) and Katie Hayward (AUS), Brigita Virbalytre (LTU) and Sandra Arenas (COL) all close together for most of the race. Brigita was the first to drop off and it soon developed into a 3 way race for the medals. Perhaps surprisingly, it was Jemima who lost contact first, soon after the 16km mark. It was now a battle between the 18 year old Katie and the 25 year old Sandra. Unsurprisingly, it was Sandra who broke clear in the final 3km, going on to win with xx. 

Katie, who held on well to finish second, not only won the Oceania and Australian Championships but she shattered the Australian U20 record with her time of 1:29:25. This make her the third fastest Australian ever, (behind Jane Saville and Claire Tallent). She is now one of 8 Australian women to have bettered 90 minutes for the 20km walk.
Victory to Sandra Lorerna Arenas (COL) in 1:28:49
Second place to Katie Hayward (AUS) in 1:29:25
Third place to Jemima Montag (AUS) in 1:30:51

1 - 1:27.44 Jane Saville  05/11/1974 4 Naumburg,Germany 02/05/2004 age 29
2 - 1:28.53 Claire Tallent 06/07/1981 5 Taicang, China 30/03/2012 age 30
3 - 1:29:25 Katie Hayward 23/07/2000 2 Adelaide, AUS 10/02/2019 age 18
4 - 1:29.33 Regan Lamble 14/10/1991 12 Rome, Italy (WC) 07-05-2016 age 24
5 - 1:29.36 Kerry Saxby-Junna 02/06/1961 2 Naumburg,Germany 30/04/2000 age 38
6 - 1:29.44 Cheryl Webb 03/10/1976 1 Melbourne 07/03/2009 age 32
7 - 1:29.49 Beki Smith (nee Lee) 25/11/1986 15 Rome, Italy (WC) 07-05-2016 age 29
8 - 1:29.56 Tanya Holliday 21/09/1988 16 Rome, Italy (WC) 07-05-2016 age 27
Tim Erickson - AUS
(All photos by Australia Twitter)




(from IAAF web site by Len Jonhson)


Perseus Karlstrom and Sandra Lorena Arenas took the line honours in the Adelaide leg of the IAAF Race Walking Challenge on Sunday (10), closing strongly for comfortable victories in the men’s and women’s 20km, respectively.

But there were consolation prizes aplenty for the local hopes, too, with Dane Bird-Smith and Katie Hayward virtually clinching selection for the IAAF Doha 2019 World championships in taking out the Australian national and Oceania titles in second place in their respective races.

There were also hopeful signs of a return to full fitness and form from London 2012 50km Olympic champion Jared Tallent who completed the race “pain free”, the first race he has finished in almost two full years.


Karstrom extends his “down under” streak


Sweden’s Karlstrom is a frequent visitor to Australian and obviously enjoys his time here. In winning on Sunday in 1:20:05, he made it two wins on the trot in the Adelaide challenge event and extended an undefeated streak ‘down under’ which dates back to early 2016.

Karlstrom did not have it all his own way, however, not taking the lead until just before the 16km point.

Bird-Smith, the Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist, made his intentions clear from the first of ten 2km loops along the River Torrens on the edge of Adelaide’s central city district. His lead had gone out to 30 seconds after three laps and was still at 20 seconds as he went through half-way in around 40:50 with Karlstrom and Canada’s Evan Dunfee together in pursuit.

Lap by lap Karlstrom closed in on the Australian, A deficit of 15 seconds at 12km, shrunk to eight at 14 and with two laps to go the Swede had moved into a narrow lead. Whatever he felt about this change of circumstance, Bird-Smith was conscious he also had consolation prizes on offer.

“I wasn’t too fussed as ‘Percy’ (Karlstrom) came past,” Bird-Smith told Athletics Australia after the race. “I was a bit like there isn’t much point in trying to chase him down, I figured I would just get through the race and be the first Aussie home and I got a world qualifier – so job done, I’m very happy.”

Bird-Smith was still able to close the race faster than he had started out, crossing the line in 1:20:52. Eider Arevalo, Colombia’s London 2017 world champion, came home third in 1:21:36, ahead of Lithuania’s Marius Ziukas, Dunfee and Ever Palma of Mexico.

Bird-Smith also took out both the Oceania and Australian titles at 20km, the former ahead of Rhydian Cowley and New Zealand’s Quentin Rew and the latter from Cowley and Tyler Jones.

There was also good news from Jared Tallent who got through the race in 20th place in 1:27:37, a little slower than his target time of 1:26, but achieved with minimum discomfort.

“It was a positive race. (It’s) a good base to build on,” said Tallent. “Forty-three minutes at 10km, slower second half, but overall I’m happy to be back in a race and pain-free.”


Arenas wins; Hayward graduates to senior competition in style.


Arenas looked the class of the women’s race on paper, and she proved to be as formidable as expected on the road.

Again, two Australian controlled much of the early pace – Commonwealth champion Jemima Montag and last year’s fifth placegetter in the World U20 championships 10,000m, Katie Hayward.

More surprisingly, it was Hayward, who does not turn 19 until 23 July this year, who was equally as aggressive as her (slightly) older Australian rival (who turns 21 next week).

When it counted, however, the statistic that counted for most was Arenas’s fifth place at the 2017 World Championships. The 26-year-old Colombian took over with a lap to go and went on to win in 1:28:49, from Hayward (1:29:25) and Montag (1:30:51).

Hayward also took out the Oceania and Australian titles, with Montag and 50km specialist Claire Tallent, who finished fifth, taking the minor medals. Lithuania’s Brigita Virbalyte-Dimsiene finished fourth and New Zealand’s Alana Barber was one place out of the Oceania medals in sixth.

It was Hayward’s debut 20km, and took her straight away to third-fastest Australian woman in the event. Her 1:29:25 is the equal fourth-fastest Australian performance all-time, behind Jane Saville’s national record 1:27:44, Claire Tallent’s 1:28:53. Saville also has performances of 1:29:05 and 1:29:25, equal to Hayward’s Adelaide time.

With Hayward and Montag both at the nascent stages of their senior careers, and Tallent finding a new event at 50km, Australian women’s race walking is suddenly on an upward trajectory again.


Len Johnson for the IAAF




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