Jack Rayner and Andrew Coscoran duelled it out on Saturday night (Photo: @athleticsaustralia / X)

Saturday night was bittersweet for Australian Olympian Jack Rayner at Lakeside Stadium. 

Rayner was crowned the Australian 10,000m Champion for the third time in a row during the Zatopek: 10, however he finished the race in second. 

The Victorian hit the lead with 600 metres to go before Irishman Andrew Coscoran overtook Rayner on the back straight during the final lap. Rayner said post-race he felt mixed emotions.

“It’s a bittersweet three-peat,” he said.

“I would have liked to have won the actual race but I’m still happy with the Australian title.” 

Saturday night marked Rayner’s first loss on the Australian circuit this season, winning his last four races. He said despite the loss, the Zatopek: 10 formed a perfect steppingstone for the Paris Olympics next year. 

“The first half of the year was pretty crap for me,” he said.

“I went over to Europe and wasn’t able to race anywhere near my best which was a bit disheartening. Coming back to Australia and racing the Australia circuit with all the road races here was great.

“I’ve got a few wins under my belt again and gained some confidence back. So, it was a step in the right direction tonight.” 

Rayner finished the race with a time of 27:57:87, which is nearly a minute shy of the Paris 2024 Olympics qualifying time of 27 minutes. In a bid to qualify, the 27-year-old plans to run in a few more meets in Australia before going to America in March for their athletics season. 

“I’ll go over to the US in March, but for now it’ll just be training in Melbourne, before racing in the 5k over in Adelaide,” he said. 

“Then [I’ll train in] Falls Creek and then the mile back [in Melbourne] (the Maurie Plant Meet) after that.” 

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His training partner and winner of the Zatopek: 10, Andrew Coscoran, had one goal in the back of his mind for the event – breaking the Irish 10,000m record. 

Running a time of 27:56:37, Coscoran just missed out on the record, but obliterated his previous best time of 29:01:21 set in Belfast in 2020. Despite the discrepancy between the Irish record and the Olympian’s previous best, he said a strong training block made him confident of achieving his goal. However, a wet track played a factor in that plan. 

“I thought sub-28 [minutes] would be in the lens after I had a decent training camp in Falls Creek,” he said.

“I roughly had the Irish record in my head. It’s 27:39 so I wasn’t a million miles off that. 

“Weather player a role there. That’s why we were maybe a little slower.”

Standing tall against quality opposition in training partner Rayner and Tiernan, Coscoran remained humble when speaking about his two main competitors.

“They’re two legends of Australian distance. It’s absolute class to come down [from Ireland] and be able to run with such good runners,” he said.

“I trained with in Falls Creek with [Jack] for the last three weeks and he’s come over to Europe before to train with me in Spain, so I’ve got huge respect for Jack.

“That was the first time I raced Pat and he’s a tough competitor.”

Even after his efforts on Saturday night, the 27-year-old is planning on shortening his distance for the Paris Olympics. Coscoran reached the semi-finals of the 1500m in Tokyo, hoping to hone in on the distance just prior to the July start. 

“This year [I’m aiming for] the 5k. I think I definitely have it in the legs,” he said.

“I have the European [Championships] coming up which is six weeks before the Olympics … and there’s no rounds so it makes it a little easier on the body and then fully concentrate on the 1500m for the Olympics.” 

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