Office workers, Olympic hopefuls return to the Tan

Stewy McSweyn wants to come back and break the Tan record. Mark Purvis just wants to come back and race the Tan again.

The release from lockdown is delivering a return to normal routines and for many Melburnians that routine includes a run of the Tan.

Next year on Anzac Day Eve the first of what is hoped to be an annual race around the Tan will be staged offering the biggest prizemoney in Australia for a race of its type.

Linden Hall, left, and Stewart McSweyn pictured at an unofficial race along the Tan earlier this year. Credit:Justin McManus

There will also be an open field race on the day, backed by an insurance company AIA Vitality and the City of Melbourne, which is designed to raise awareness of mental health and encourage the return to life back in the city.

Earlier this year McSweyn, the multiple Australian record-holder, raced around the Tan against other athletes who had lost their chances to compete at the Olympics, in Europe or domestically.

He was not in peak shape but won, of course, and did so running the second-fastest time ever around Melbourne's famous track, coming in four seconds behind Craig Mottram's long-held record of 10 minutes and eight seconds.

Now he wants to race again and break the record.

"I would love to do it again, it's a great track. Hopefully I will be in a bit better shape than last time and I can give it another crack," McSweyn said.

"I would know how to run it a bit better next time too, I think I went out a bit hard for the first half last time."

As office workers return to the city so, too, are runners returning to the Tan as Melbourne re-awakens from lockdown and resumes the habits of office life.

Purvis is a runner with the 250-strong Midday Milers club of largely city office workers that run the famous 3.827km track around the Botanic Gardens at lunchtimes. He will enter for the open race.

"One of the biggest things we runners have lost is racing … and there is a big social component of racing and running," Purvis said.

"A lot of our members work in the city and would run the Tan every day and they haven't been able to during lockdown so people are very eager to get back to the Tan."

The elite men's and women's fields will be capped at 50 entries with the selection criteria based off Athletics Australia rankings. Due to the narrow course runners will start in waves

The open run, with a field expected to be capped at several thousand, is aimed at the many social runners who jog along the Tan frequently but never race and would love to pit themselves against others in competition to see how they go.

The winners of the men's and women's race are expected to pocket $5000 each. There are bonuses for breaking the record time.

It is the highest prize pool for an out-of-stadium race of this distance.

Gen Gregson this year set a new record for the women's run when she ran 11:54.

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