Monday, August 01, 2005

Emma Murray: Fastest Enigma in the South

I was listening to ABC 666 radio last Monday morning. Tim Gavel was chatting about the weekend's sport. I was hoping for something memorable like 'Queanbeyan's Mark Webber has won the German Grand Prix' or 'Grant Hackett has broken Ian Thorpe's 800 metre world record'.

What Tim said made me stop work and listen: "... and in France, Canberra's Emma Murray has won the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships". Wow! How brilliant is that! "By 18 minutes from Austria's Marion Kapuscinski". Eighteen minutes. It's the Six Foot Track all over again, but this is the World Championship!

I found out later in the day that Emma had defeated some very well credentialed athletes. Such as Isabelle Guillot who has been World Mountain Running Champion on four occasions and Chantal Dallenbach, the French marathon record holder with 2:28:27 in 2002. That same year Dallenbach also ran 32:51 for 10km and 71:33 for the half marathon.

Emma is the definitive 'unknown runner' who has stunned the world's best mountain runners on one of the toughest courses in the French Pyrenees. The Marathon du Vignemale climbed 2000 metres over the first 21 kilometres. For those who have run the Six Foot Track that's over twice the climb from the Cox's River to the Pluviometer but on a very rocky track rather than a smooth dirt road.

Emma has no traditional running background such as cross country runs, track races or fun runs. She was a bush walker who developed into an orienteer and 6/12/24 hour rogainer. She only joined an athletics club this year. The first 'traditional' race I remember her doing was the 2004 Brindabella Classic which she won easily at an average pace of 5 minutes per kilometre. After that performance I predicted Emma would win the 2005 Six Foot Track 45km Marathon with 'daylight' coming second. This happened.

I was thinking about Emma's amazing performance again on Saturday when I was running up the only significant hill on the Bush Capital 16km bush run. This hill climbed a meagre 152 metres over 3 kilometres. I even walked a couple of times on the steep rocky parts. If this hill had climbed to twice that height it would have been the same grade as on the Marathon du Vignemale. Then you would have to keep on going for another 18 kilometres! It makes me tired just thinking about it.


Blogger Carolyne said...

I too, couldn't help but think about Emma during the "hillock" on Saturday. It pales by every comparison.

8:38 am  
Blogger Friar said...

Congrats to Emma.

She also performed well in the Mt Tennant Run.

4:41 pm  
Blogger michael donnelly said...

Hi Ewen,

Thanks for the comment and unfortunately Tiff is still injured and could be out for awhile. Hope all is well.


3:38 pm  

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