KELLY Ruddick has smashed a personal best to capture her first Australian race walking title in Launceston – and posted an Olympic A-qualifying time in the process.
Team offers to travel have already started coming in to Ruddick, and on a weekend when she almost gave into general tiredness and stayed home in Ballarat.
Once Ruddick settled on course it was a different story.
The Ballarat Harrier chopped three-and-a-half minutes off her previous 20-kilometre best yesterday for a winning time of one hour, 33 minutes, 15 seconds in the Australian Race Walking Championships.
Ruddick has finished clear inside the qualifier of 1:36:00 for the IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Taicing next May.
Emerging Australian walker Rachel Tallent (Ballarat YCW) captured silver in 1:36:06.
Ruddick turned 40 this year, making her twice the age of her younger Ballarat rival, and was shocked to have raced so fast.
“I’m shocked. Once I got in front, I just wanted to be able to ring everyone and say I had won a national title – that kept me going,” Ruddick said.
“I’ve won a national title and am the fastest in Australia this year in 10 and 20 kilometres...I never dreamt it.”
Tallent, fresh back from the Summer Universiade in Russia, set the pace with Ruddick in the opening 6km.
About 8km in, Ruddick started to feel strong and mentally focused on building from that point.
Ruddick said that between work, at Ballarat Health Services, chasing after her four children and home renovations she did not train as much as she wanted each week.
But it was about making the most of every opportunity and every race.
“My kids are my inspiration and keep me going,” Ruddick said.
“The whole time, I wanted to ring them and tell them what I was about to achieve.
“I want to show people you can do anything, no matter what your age.”
Ruddick must finish top-three in the Oceania Race Walking Championships in Hobart early next year to help seal a World Cup spot.
Ballarat’s Sarah Brennan finished fifth in the open women’s 20km in a time of 1:52:04.
Athletics Ballarat Racewalking Club sisters Alanna and Jemma Peart also competed in Launceston yesterday.
Alanna finished second in the under-12 girls’ 2000m with a time of 11 minutes, 23 seconds.
Jemma was sixth in the under-14 girls’ 3000m in 16: 57.