When Australian Olympian Liam Adams crossed the finish line at Maribyrnong parkrun on February 29, he didn’t know he’d just reclaimed the parkrun Australia record.
As part of his training for an upcoming marathon at Lake Biwa in Japan – which he planned to use as a Tokyo Olympic qualifier – his training plan called for a “fast 4km effort” so he thought parkrun would be the ideal spot to execute his plan.
“I held the record for a while, then Riley Cocks broke it in December last year in South Australia. That morning at Maribyrnong though, I didn’t think I’d got it, I still thought Riley’s time was quicker. Someone came up and told me I had the record a bit later,” Liam said.
Liam said he liked to use parkrun as part of his marathon preparation and through January with the smoke and oppressive heat, he recorded some impressive times at Penrith Lakes parkrun.
While setting parkrun records is a great achievement and one Liam said he was very proud of, qualifying for his second Olympics has been his main focus for the past six months – and Lake Biwa last weekend was where he set out to do it.
Last year, he had his first crack at qualifying at the Gold Coast Marathon and despite running a PB of 2:11.36, he missed the qualifying time by a few seconds.
“It was very windy conditions and I had to run solo the whole way. The running gods were against me,” Liam said.
A few months later, Liam tried to qualify again at the Berlin Marathon.
“I got a chest infection which I still had race day. But I’d paid all this money to go so I thought I’d give it a crack. By about 30km, the wheels fell off and I started coughing heavily. Had to pull out at about 34km.”
Liam took a few weeks away from running at the end of 2019 to try and get his mind and body right, though he didn’t get any reprieve from his job as an apprentice electrician.
“I was getting smashed with work. I was doing 60 hour weeks but only managing 60km per week,” Liam said.
By December, Liam finally cracked a 100km week then in January, he properly started training for the Lake Biwa Marathon. Then the fires and the smoke hit.
“It pushed everything back and I was concerned I wasn’t going to get prepared for Lake Biwa. I had to cancel a few sessions,” he said.
Liam said there had been pressure for Lake Biwa Marathon to cancel, due to the threat of the coronavirus.
“Tokyo had cancelled, Paris too and a few others postponed. Nagoya had their mass participation cancelled. On the day, Lake Biwa implemented rules for the locals to not come on course and watch live on TV. We still had lots of support though,” he said.
While Liam managed to get himself fit enough to race to secure a qualifying time – quicker than 2:11.30 – travel issues nearly put a stop to all of that.
“I was delayed out of Melbourne which made me miss my international flight from Sydney. I then had 10 hours at Sydney Airport. That pushed back again because of maintenance issues. My flight was then redirected to Tokyo instead of Osaka. I then missed my connecting flight to Osaka. I don’t travel well anyway on long flights as my back can play and I was panicking the whole way,” Liam said.
When Liam finally landed in Japan on the Friday evening of March 6, he had just 38 hours until race time – which he said was far from ideal.
Liam said his ongoing issues to qualify for the Olympics continued right up until the start gun at Lake Biwa – which didn’t go off.
“The predicted weather was set to be ideal but it was 10 degrees with heavy rain and strong winds. Then, the gun didn’t go off, so we sat on the start line for 15 minutes. My back stiffened up. I lost my whole warm,” he said.
Liam found a discarded poncho and made the decision to race in it for the first few kilometres, which he said proved to be the right decision.
Despite it catching in the wind, he said it kept him warm and allowed him to find his rhythm.
He crossed the line in a personal best and Olympic qualifying time of 2:10.48. He is so far, the fastest Australian male qualifier.
“I had hoped to go a little bit faster to give myself more of a qualifying buffer, but I think in the conditions I’m still pretty happy.
Liam said in the lead up to Tokyo, he would use parkun for more hit outs.
“parkrun is amazing. It’s such a great concept and getting so many people active. I think it’s doing a world of good for the sport of running in general. I will go down and support it as often as I can,” he said.
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