Returning to the streets of Sydney this Sunday, the world-famous City2Surf will feature an impressive lineup of Australian road racing talent set to battle it out for the 2023 titles.
In the women’s race, defending champion Leanne Pompeani will start as favourite to retain her crown and could challenge the women’s course record of 45:08 set in 2001 by Susie Power.
“I would love to get back-to-back wins. Last year I raced City2Surf not knowing what to expect. This year I’m going in with plenty of nerves, knowing I’m coming up against some tough competitors.
“Susie Power was an incredible athlete, and her race record will not be easy to break. Whatever happens on the day, the goal will be to run as fast as I can. I’m sure the other elite women will be bringing their A game and hopefully one of us can come close to that record,” said Pompeani.
Canberran Pompeani raced the City2Surf for the first-time last year, winning on debut in a time of 45:43 – less than 30 seconds behind Power’s record.
Heading into the 2023 race with experience of the iconic 14km course, Pompeani will be hoping her preparation for this year will stand her in good stead against a competitive women’s field.
“Training has been going well, I’ve just been trying to build on my fitness each week. I know the hills, up and down, are going to hurt at City2Surf this weekend, so now it is time to mentally prepare for that,” she said.
“After racing City2Surf last year, I knew I was going to come back. It’s like no road race I have ever experienced. The excitement, vibe, crowds and being such an iconic event where so many distance running legends have raced over the years, I want to be a part of it again this year.”
Hoping to challenge Pompeani for the title and better her third-place finish from last year is Sydney local Aynslee Van Graan.
“The competition at the City2Surf is fierce, and that's exactly what makes it so thrilling. I hope to be as competitive as last year and really challenge myself to be right up there with the frontrunners. While I'll definitely line up with the intent to push as hard as I can, the level of Australian road racing has been incredibly strong lately, and I'm just grateful to be racing alongside these talented athletes,” said Van Graan.
“Winning the City2Surf would be a tremendous honour. It's a big bucket list item for most runners in Australia, it's definitely on my list as well.”
Van Graan also made her City2Surf debut last year and despite a strong effort to finish in 47:05, the 27-year-old is hoping the extra work she’s put into training to help conquer the infamous Heartbreak Hill will achieve her an even faster time this year.
“I've been pushing myself hard to get ready for the City2Surf, and I really hope it pays off on race day. I've also been making an effort to include some hills in my long runs which I'm hoping will pay off too. Last year my Heartbreak Hill split was not as competitive as I would have liked, and I am hoping to be stronger up the hill this year.
“The whole atmosphere around the City2Surf is incredible, with the entire city of Sydney coming together to support the event. Last year, the support along the course was unreal, you can't help but feel pumped up throughout the race. It's a privilege to be part of such an iconic race that not only challenges us as runners but also makes a positive impact on the community. I'm excited to be back this year and hopefully for many more in the future,” she said.
Dual Olympian and five-time Commonwealth Games representative Eloise Wellings is another serious contender for the City2Surf title this weekend.
Already this year Wellings has claimed victory at the Sydney 10 and third at the Sydney Harbour 10km. Despite winning almost every Sydney-based race, the 40-year-old will be making her City2Surf debut and will be hoping she can write her name into the famous race’s history books.
The men’s race at this year’s City2Surf will likely be dominated by Sydney favourite Ed Goddard.
Last year’s runner up is desperate to take out the title over the 14km CBD to Bondi Beach course after securing the fastest overall times in the two years the City2Surf went virtual in 2020and 2021.
Goddard has displayed great form already this year, taking out wins in the HOKA Runaway Sydney Half Marathon and Sydney Harbour 10km.
“I’ve had a strong season on the roads this year and City2Surf remains the outlying race around Sydney which I haven’t won so it’s definitely the focus. I know the last few years Heartbreak Hill has been the place where the race has been won so that has the be my focus on race day,” said Goddard.
Being from Sydney, the City2Surf means a lot to Goddard who grew up watching the race.
“City2Surf is the most iconic race in Sydney by far, and Australia too, so it would be a childhood dream to win. Growing up and watching on TV each year was always a great experience, especially with the Hill and all the different parts of the course that make it such a spectacle.
“The rich history of the race makes it such a to-do thing. It would be the most spoken about running event and a lot of people build their running year around it. Being 14k it’s a great distance because it’s challenging, but it’s also a distance which can be trained for in less time than a marathon or half marathon,” he said. “I think the last thing is the fact when you’re running up Heartbreak Hill you can look out towards the city and see the world’s most beautiful harbour – there’s no better sight in any race around the world.”
Another Sydneysider, James Nipperess, will return to the City2Surf for the first time since 2019. His previous best finish at the event came in 2018 when he claimed third.
“I've been training well, I'm healthy and motivated and looking forward to a solid hit out,” said Nipperess. “It's a strong field this year, but I'll just focus on myself and what I can control. I'll try to keep being composed and then when it gets tough, I'll dig deep coming into Bondi. I'll be happy if I follow that plan and let the placing be what results from that.
“City2Surf is a must do because of the atmosphere of Sydney coming together for the world's biggest fun run and finishing at the iconic Bondi Beach. I'll then be having a beverage with my mates at the Beach Road,” he added.
Canberran Arron Spiessberger-Parker is another athlete set to challenge for a podium place at the 2023 City2Surf. He finished fourth last year and will be hoping he can elevate himself to a podium position this Sunday.
“I think my (podium) chances are pretty good this year, although I expect it to be a very competitive race,” said Spiessberger-Parker. “City2Surf is one of the biggest road races of the year and attracts really strong fields. It has a strong history and appeals to a wider audience outside of the running community.
“It would mean a great deal to win a race as iconic as the City2Surf. The race has been won by a lot of legends of the sport and it would mean a lot to have my name alongside theirs,” he said.
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