Roff to make 5000m debut at Victorian championships

Commonwealth Games 1500m finalist Jeremy Roff will venture south to Melbourne to run his first 5000m race in what will be the final ever Victorian championship over the distance conducted at Melbourne's Olympic Park.

The 27-year-old New South Welshman, who has a personal best of 3:34.39 over the metric mile - the 8th fastest ever by an Australian - will test the waters over the twelve and a half lap distance with a view to adding it to his competition schedule come the domestic season proper.

With the IAAF recently announcing swift A-qualifying standards for the 2011 world championships of 3:35.00 (1500m) and 13:20.00 (5000m), Australia's top middle distance runners such as Roff are likely to keep their qualifying options as broad as possible, with the real possibility that no athletes will achieve the A-qualifying standards in any distance event during the domestic season.

A fortnight ago Roff clocked 8:02.56 to finish second at the NSW 3000m championships, faltering over the final 600m as training partner James Nipperess took victory. At the time Nipperess said of Roff's performance "that he obviously didn't feel as good as he has been training." Whether or not it is an indication of what Roff's current training form might deliver, Nipperess won the 5000m track race for traveling reserves at the Chiba Ekiden on Tuesday in difficult conditions in a time of 14:00.

Roff won't have the race all to himself, with Melbourne based Kiwi and defending champion Jason Woolhouse toeing the start line. In last year's race Woolhouse, who has a personal best of 13:35.71, set in 2008, out sprinted Liam Adams to claim the title in 13:56.86. Of the other international and interstate runners, Kiwi miler Brett Tingay, Sandown 10km runner-up Chris Hartley, and the enigmatic Russell Dessaix-Chin are all expected to be in the mix, whilst 2008 champion Andrew White, Ben Toomey and Toby Rayner are at the top of the local contingent.

Inside Athletics will be providing editorial and pictorial coverage of the Victorian 5000m championships.

Photo by Chris Lew.

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