Australian National Marathon winners too tough to pick

Elite field packed with favorites

Picking the winner of this year's Australian Marathon National Championship is tough. Any one of 10 riders could win the national jersey when racing gets underway near Bendigo this Sunday, September 20.

Current World Solo 24-Hour Champion, Jason English is on top of the pile of favorites after he won the title in July. English has proven that the marathon distance suits him after winning the 100km Dirt Works in St Albans in May, also breaking the race record. James Williamson will be hot on English's heels and lays claim to the 2008 World 24-Hour Solo Championship title.

However, an in-form Ben Mather of Tasmania will add to the challenge. He recently won the King of the Mountains in the Grafton to Inverell race and also impressed with a victory at the Anaconda MTB Enduro in Alice Springs earlier this year.

Canberra's Shaun Lewis, who raced this year's Marathon World Championship, will race in the number one plate. Lewis claimed a respectable 78th place at worlds and could show some good form after racing in Europe.

Matthew Fleming is looking to his brother Joshua Fleming, an Olympian, for help support getting into the lead. Matthew won the BMC 100km event earlier this year and is chasing the elusive Australian national jersey.

Others to watch include Hamish Elliott, Nick Both, Adrian Jackson, and Tour De Timor winner, Neil Van der Ploeg.

By all accounts, the women's race winner will be even harder to pick with a wide range of talent in the line-up. The women's Tour De Timor, Tory Thomas, is also a favorite. She has won several national titles in the past including a marathon championship.

Jessica Douglas will get the number one plate after placing fourth at the World 24-Hour Solo Championships. However, the 2008 silver medallist, Katrien Van der Spiegel, may have a depth of experience to match the challenge, and cross country racer Jo Wall will have an advantage thanks to her local knowledge.

The national championship race will be run over 105km. Others may race 50km or 25km as part of the Golden Triangle Epic. Over 300 racers are expected for Sunday's competition.

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