CHASING the perfect start to the Paralympic year, Kurt Fearnley got exactly what he wanted when he created history and surged to yet another Oz Day 10km Road Race crown in Sydney on Saturday.
The momentous win saw the Carcoar athlete become the first man in the event’s 19-year history to win it four times. Before the race, only Fearnley and one of his childhood heroes, Paul Wiggins, had won on three occasions.
But Fearnley ensured he moved past his idol when he outshone the world-class field to take the honours in a time of 20 minutes and 32 seconds, equalling the course record he set last January.
In front of his many family and friends there in support at The Rocks, Fearnley said the win was particularly pleasing because of the amount of pressure he was feeling on his way to the start line.
“It’s great to get off to a winning start in a Paralympic year. After last year’s results I really wanted to make sure I didn’t start flat,” he said.
“It was very pleasing, I was really nervous about this one. It’s the start of a massive year, a Paralympic year, and everybody seems to be coming out of the woodwork so it was nice to be able to win it for the fourth time.”
Fearnley also acknowledged his place in the record book, saying it was an honour to be recognised alongside Wiggins who was a multiple world champion in varying disciplines.
“Paul Wiggins is someone I have always thought of as a legend and it’s great to be up there with him.”
The former CSU student made his first move after just four kilometres on the testing course at The Rocks and stayed away until the seven kilometre mark.
He was then caught by a pack of three who stayed with him until one kilometre to race.
From there, Fearnley showed the immense class that took him to 10 wins from 11 marathons last year as he powered home to earn the spoils.
He took his fourth title from Japan’s Masazumi Soejima who finished strongly to take second.
“It was hard work. I always knew it was going to be tough,” Fearnley said.
“It didn’t feel fast. I was a bit surprised with the time [the course record], but I wasn’t thinking about it at all.
“I would have been happy if I finished in a hour, all that mattered was that I stayed in front.”
Fearnley will now have a three month lay-off from racing to step up preparations for his Paralympic campaign.
His next race will be the London marathon in April.