Launceston Olympian Milly Clark smashes half-marathon mark in Hobart

BENCHMARK: A relaxed Milly Clark feels assured of her Olympic preparation after a superb Cadbury Marathon run in Hobart on Sunday. Picture: Paul Scambler
BENCHMARK: A relaxed Milly Clark feels assured of her Olympic preparation after a superb Cadbury Marathon run in Hobart on Sunday. Picture: Paul Scambler

Milly Clark has cautiously taken a further step towards the Tokyo Olympics.

Cautious on not only the injury front, but the nod of Australian Olympic selectors.

That was cast aside when on Sunday the Launceston dietician broke the Cadbury half-marathon record.

The 30-year-old was the first female - and the ninth competitor - on the 21.1km Hobart course across the line in a time of 1:13.04.

Clark was nearly four minutes ahead of second-placed Launceston doctor Karinna Fyfe, who was still fresh from a Point-to-Pinnacle victory over the similar distance.

"It wasn't a personal best overall, but it was a personal best on that course by around two minutes," she said.

"I have done the distance a few times and I have always been well off the record.

"This year I wanted to get out there and get it done after trying so many times."

Four times Clark has raced the half-marathon distance at last count, not including the 5km and 10km races over the past seven trips south.

The 2016 Olympian, who was Australia's fastest female and 18th overall in the Rio marathon, also made a stark admission months out from a possible 2020 Games berth.

"I have never done the full marathon [in Hobart]," she said, "and I don't think I ever will because running up that hill once is enough."

More so on the mend from another injury setback.

SUCCESS: Clark hitting the tape the first female to finish the Cadbury half-marathon. Picture: Martin Chambers

SUCCESS: Clark hitting the tape the first female to finish the Cadbury half-marathon. Picture: Martin Chambers

In 2018, Clark had nursed a troublesome foot that continually flared up in training.

This time it was a torn calf.

But the Hobart run was the ideal start for her Tokyo bid.

"I had intended on going to Houston this week, but I only tore my calf about five weeks ago," Clark said. "So I have had three weeks of interrupted training.

"I just didn't think I was quite fit to go and complete the full distance just yet.

"That's why I wanted to do this half-marathon, test my fitness, see where I am at and how I've pulled up from it."

So far so good, but the test will be April. Despite recording a personal best of 2:28.08 at the Gold Coast Marathon, there is no guarantee that Clark has booked a ticket for back-to-back Olympics.

That time shaved nearly a minute of the PB and was 82 seconds inside the Olympic qualifying. But confirmation is out of Clark's control still.

"It's a long and stressful wait - it's probably my worst four months of the year," she said.

"It makes it really hard to know for sure. But you have to plan like you're going and if I don't go, yeah, it will be a huge disappointment."

This story Milly Clarke is biding time for an Olympic ticket first appeared on The Examiner.