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Blair and Mullens set to defend Australian marathon titles

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Peta Mullens

Peta Mullens
(Image credit: Russell Baker)
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Andy Blair wins the opening stage in Alice Springs

Andy Blair wins the opening stage in Alice Springs
(Image credit: ChrisOrd / Rapid Ascent)
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Jenny Fay

Jenny Fay
(Image credit: Russell Baker)
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Andrew Blair finishing in the top four to add more points to his overall standing in the National Series.

Andrew Blair finishing in the top four to add more points to his overall standing in the National Series.
(Image credit: Chris Fox Photography / www.photosbychris.com.au)
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Peta Mullens

Peta Mullens
(Image credit: Russell Baker)
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Jodie Willett in third in the elite women's race

Jodie Willett in third in the elite women's race
(Image credit: Russell Baker)

Australia's premier mountain bike marathon riders will venture to Australia's tropics when the 2013 Australian Marathon National Championships happen on Sunday. The championships will be held in Atherton, Queensland on April 21 with reigning national champions Andrew Blair and Peta Mullens set to light up the picturesque tablelands.

"There are probably up to 10 guys that can win the championships," Blair said. "It's definitely the hardest race of the year with the deepest field out of any marathon in Australia."

Blair recently took out the Capital Punishment marathon in Canberra following six weeks off the bike due to a serious injury.

"I broke my scapula (shoulder blade) which sidelined me for the [cross country] national championships, one of my big goals for the year. Because I missed them, it has meant all I have been thinking about is trying to make (my injury) right," he said.

In the women's race, defending champion Mullens will bring her recent Cape Epic experience in South Africa to the fore when she takes on strong competition in Jodie Willett and Irish national Jenny Fay.

"I think my climbing form is there on the back of the Cape Epic," Mullens said. "I feel like I've come a long way technically in the last year to the point where I don't feel that I have a weakness people can target in a marathon race."

"If I'm incident-free and have good legs, I think I'll be standing on top of the podium on Sunday," Mullens said.

The Victorian heads into the championships fresh from winning the Wombat 100 marathon last weekend which followed a dominant victory at the cross country Australian Championships in February.

"I have a season goal of being a triple national champion this year across cross country, marathon and cyclo-cross, so the pressure is on," Mullens said.