McSweyn, Hall win Tan track races

John Salvado
Middle distance runners Linden Hall and Stewart McSweyn celebrate winning at The Tan in Melbourne

It was a very long way from the bright lights of the Diamond League.

But on a beautiful, sunny morning in Melbourne, with most of the sporting world still in limbo due to COVID-19, it was something.

Something real.

A proper race around the celebrated 3.827km Tan track, organised by leading Australian running coach Nic Bideau.

National 10,000m record holder Stewart McSweyn was a commanding winner of the men's event, although his time of 10 minutes and 12 seconds was a frustrating four seconds shy of the Tan record set 14 years ago by Craig Mottram.

Linden Hall won the women's race in 12:08.

In any normal year, the cream of Australian distance running would be in Europe right now for the prestigious Diamond League meets.

But with international travel on hold for the foreseeable future and the Tokyo Olympics pushed back to 2021, this year has been anything but normal.

"Being an athlete you miss that competitiveness so it was good to have a hard hit-out," said McSweyn, who finished four seconds clear of training partner Jack Rayner.

"It was nice getting a bit of normality.

"I knew I wasn't at my best; I had a break and it was just about getting back to fitness.

"I just wanted to do something close to racing."

Hall - the Australian 1500m record holder - has not completely ruled out the prospect of restrictions being lifted enough to allow for international competition later in the year.

"It would be a really slim chance but I feel like if I pretend there's some hope it's a bit more motivating," said the 28-year-old, who went through a wide gamut of emotions after the Olympics were postponed.

"Initially it was relief because there was a lot of anxiety about what was going to happen.

"Then after I got over that it was like 'god, what am I doing with my life?'

"And then I kept getting reminders for all the flights I had booked and it was like 'way to rub it in Google calendar'.

"I'm trying not to plan too far ahead at this stage."

For the well-connected Bideau - whose stable of runners includes McSweyn and Rayner - organising Friday's event was a no-brainer.

"We can't sit on our hands waiting for the people who run the sport to do it," he said.

"These guys have an Olympic Games next year and we can't have months and months of training without knowing where you are at.

"As soon as you tell them something like this is on, the next three weeks of training is better.

"It's like at school, when there's no test you don't do your homework."