GLEN Yarham’s first beer on Saturday night tasted very sweet.
The Ipswich athlete claimed the Australian under-20 cross country title in Canberra on Saturday, having sworn off the drink for three months in the lead-up.
After finishing eighth last season, the 19-year-old went into this year’s race with high expectations, following his 41st place finish at the world under-20 championships in Spain in March and second in the Queensland open cross country titles in June.
“I was aiming for the win,” Yarham said. “I knew I was a good chance, depending on how I ran the race.”
The race wasn’t run as planned, with Yarham having to chase the leaders earlier than he would have liked.
He was grateful for it afterwards, however, as he broke his personal best over 8km by an astonishing 29 seconds.
“I was actually going to sit back,” he said. “It was a really windy day so I wanted to let others do the work.
“But in the first kilometre, Josh Johnson took off really quickly so I had to make a move earlier than I would have liked.”
Yarham crossed the line in 24 minutes and three seconds, after joking to his friend he would break 24 minutes.
The Ipswich and District Athletics Club runner put the result down to “my coach Pat Clohessy and the training I’ve done”.
“Six months of hard training and a good start set up a quick time for the run. Coming into the finish line and seeing the clock tick over 24 minutes I was absolutely stoked.”
Yarham is determined to continue on his winning form, starting with the Bridge to Brisbane 5km race on September 11.
“It’s been kind of a breakthrough year,” he said. “There’s been a lot of opportunity for me.
“Athletics Australia now supports me a bit. Nike have given me a fair bit of running gear and are really supporting me, as are Ipswich City Council with some grants.”
Yarham will join Athletics Australia for a training camp in Victoria’s high country in November and hopes to win the Zatopek under 20 10km race in Melbourne in December.
“The last two blokes to have won it in the past two years have picked up sponsors and travelled to Europe,” he said. “Hopefully I can keep opening up opportunities.”