25 May 2004

A strong field of athletes will be out to make history when they line up for the 20th annual University of Queensland Great Court Race on Wednesday, May 26.

The fields for the finals of the 636-metre dash around the sandstone cloisters of the University`s picturesque Great Court were decided after a series of heats held last week. The event is based on the Cambridge University Race, as featured in the film Chariots of Fire.

The challenge for competitors is to finish before the University bell tolls 12 times to be assured of a race record.

In the men’s race Behavioural Science student Werner Botha, one of the top ten 800m runners in Australia is set to challenge the 14 year old race record.

In the women’s a drama charged final looms with less than a second separating the fastest three qualifiers.

A wheelchair sprint race is a special feature this year with Paralympian world record sprinter Geoff Trappett out to raise awareness of the Paralympics this year in Athens.

Botha, selected to the Australian team for the World Junior Championships in July, will be challenged strongly by Youth Olympics bronze medallist Alistair Ross and 1500m specialist Anthony Craig.

The current race record is 1.26.40 set in 1988 by four-time victor Simon Still.

800m specialist Daina Surka will attempt to defend her 2003 title ahead of long distance runners Amber Peckston and Alice McDonald who both qualified less than a second behind her.

Second year Pharmacy student Peckston placed third in 2003 and will benefit from the experience in her second final.

Star hurdler John Burstow is out to show his speed to win in the 70m-handicapped sprint race, which will again be run as a prelude to the Great Court Race.

The winner of the open men`s and open women`s Great Court Race events will receive $300 cash from UQ SPORT, with trophies and prizes for the minor placegetters and relay teams. Sprint winners will receive $100 and prizes.

The Great Court Race festivities will begin at 1pm with the sprint race finals, followed by the men’s and women’s Inter College Relay, then the open women`s final at 1.30pm and the open men`s final at 1.40pm.

Note to news/pictorial editors: Media parking will be available beyond the boom gate at Mansfield Place (adjacent to the Great Court).

For more information contact Kelly Chapman on 3365 6041 or 0412 066 466