IN the first ever rainy edition of the Bathurst Edgell Jog it only seemed appropriate that Irishman Kevin O’Brien claimed victory in weather which bore resemblance to the Emerald Isle.
After going toe-to-toe with Bathurst hope Brandon Martin throughout much of the running the Sydney resident started to pull clear over the final three kilometres to win in a time of 25 minutes and 37 seconds.
Martin crossed the line 20 seconds behind.
Bathurst’s Wes Gibson was third in 27:02.
O’Brien joked that the weather might have played into his hands for his first ever crack at Bathurst’s 7.5km annual fun run.
“I’ve never raced Bathurst before but I’m from Ireland originally so the weather this morning was like a summer day for us and that probably gave me a bit of an advantage against the Aussie lads who are used to the sun and the warmth,” he said.
“I was out in Dubbo a few weeks ago for the Stampede … and I’ve been out to Orange a few times. I love coming out here for these races. They’re always well supported, with good community spirit and the support along the whole route was excellent with people cheering out in the rain.”
O’Brien and Martin went over 100 metres clear of the field in the opening 2km and the pair began to keep a close eye on each other.
The visiting runner held a small lead over those opening kilometres but Martin almost pulled up alongside him at the halfway mark.
However, O’Brien began to slowly extend his lead along Rocket Street until it went out to over 150m.
Martin was able to keep that gap steady in the run up Russell Street towards the finish line but there was no cutting the margin back.
O’Brien enjoyed the battle with Kelso High’s Martin.
“He had a lot of support and a lot of people cheering for him the whole way so I tried to feed off that a little,” he said.
“On the very steep uphill that seemed to go on forever [on Esrom Street] I made a little move there, got a small gap on him and luckily just held him off until the end. He was strong all the way.”
O’Brien did a quick study of the course on Saturday and came up with a set of goals, mostly for challenging run up Esrom Street.
“I came yesterday and drove around the course last night. I was very keen to check out the big hill on Esrom Street because on the course profile on the website it looked pretty mean,” he said.
“I thought that if I could get to the top of that in okay shape then the rest of the course isn’t too bad, it’s mostly downhill.
“The last 400m was very tough. It’s all uphill. You turn left onto the finish … but you can see the finish line in the distance so it gives you a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel.”