KELLY Ruddick says it feels surreal – she has staked her spot in the IAAF World Race Walking Cup.
Broken ribs limited her preparations to just six weeks, but when it came to race day Ruddick found enough to win the Australia and Oceania women’s 20-kilometre walk crown in Hobart.
The Ballarat Harrier crossed the line in one hour, 34 minutes, 44 seconds yesterday, almost three minutes ahead of her closest rival, Tasmanian Stephanie Stigwood.
Ballarat’s Rachel Tallent claimed bronze in 1:38.38.
It was the second time Ruddick had raced clear under the world cup qualifying time of 1:36 – she first did so with a massive personal best time in Launceston in September.
Ruddick said the race was very tactical, a style she was not used to racing in most Victorian meets.
So, Ruddick did what she normally did – stuck to her own race.
“There were five of us out in front early, we’re all vying for a spot in the team, but I found the pace a bit slow. I’m used to racing the clock and my own ability,” Ruddick said.
“It was a little bit uncomfortable, so I decided to break free.
“For me (racing her own race), it worked well.
“Now I have some international races coming up and I’ll have to get used to a group – the races will be faster and I’m hoping the group pack will help me to a good time.”
Ruddick formed a duel for the lead with South Australian Tanya Holliday from the 10-kilometre mark.
A bold move put Ruddick in front three kilometres from the line and with about one to go, Ruddick looked back to find Holliday had been disqualified.
Ruddick had enjoyed the challenge and quickly regrouped to keep powering strong to the finish.
She was thrilled to have her partner and four children cheering her on.
The Brett Vallance-coached athlete will travel to Mexico in a fortnight to gain more international exposure and altitude training in Chihuahua.