Top athlete back for Park2Park after frustration, injury
ONE of Ipswich's most successful runners is refreshed, refocused and ready to tackle the challenging hills in Sunday's annual Park2Park half marathon.
After a lengthy break following a stint in the United States, Glen Yarham has regained his desire to compete, driven by a group of younger athletes he wants to beat.
He lines up in Sunday's Park2Park half marathon buoyed by three pleasing victories.
Yarham's major success was winning the Queensland 10km Road Racing Championships, which doubled as the state 10km title, during the Gold Coast Marathon weekend earlier this month.
The former Ipswich and District Athletic Club member also came first in a 10km run in Caloundra and won his recent Somerset Rail Trail event.
However, just months ago, he was unsure about his athletics future.
Yarham, now 26, headed to the United States to study and train when he was 21.
But the Collingwood Park-based runner struggled with a tibia stress injury and suffered a loss of racing interest mainly due to frustration.
He tried to qualify for his final university event in China before graduating at Florida State University and completing his post-graduate education studies at University of Queensland.
"I ran for a couple of months early last year,'' he said. "It was like a last chance to make World University Games.
"I was getting in pretty good nick but unfortunately I got injured.
"I took a long break off after that and kind of focused on my career for a while.''
He worked at Ipswich Grammar School before switching to Bremer State High where he now teaches maths and science.
However, his hunger to compete again was revived while coaching younger athletes and reuniting with good friend Jaden Russ.
After resuming serious training for three months, the former cross country champion ran in Caloundra to test his progress.
After winning the 10km race there, he tackled the Gold Coast 10km event with surprising results.
"I didn't think I was going to win it to be quite honest,'' he said.
The modest teacher said he got "pretty lucky'' with some other high calibre runners withdrawing. But it was still a positive result for Yarham, on the highly competitive 40th annual Gold Coast Marathon program.
"I ran the under 20s a lot when I was a junior,'' he said. "But because I headed over to the States when I was 21, I hadn't actually won a Queensland open title before.
"I wasn't going into the race thinking that I was going to win it or anything like that.
"I used it to see how many training was going.''
A week later, he added to previous successes at the Somerset Rail Trail.
Now, he's keen to continue his progress at Sunday's Park2Park, where he's won the half marathon twice before.
"I'm looking to hopefully win it again this weekend,'' he said.
"I haven't run a half marathon in two, two and a half years, so it's going to be a bit of a shock to the body, particularly over the Limestone course.
"It's quite unforgiving that course.''
Sunday's annual Ipswich Hospital Foundation-backed Park2Park program starts at 6.30am with The City of Ipswich Half Marathon and Half Marathon Relay.
Other running and walking events at the popular community event follow from 8am on various courses in and around Limestone Park and Queen's Park.
Mentor role helps teacher
BUOYED by his recent successes and coaching, Glen Yarham is waiting to see what to target next.
"At the moment, I'm just happy to be back training, back enjoying it,'' he said, having returned after an extended break.
"I'm just building at the moment. Trying to stay reasonably consistent with my training and just doing the work.''
Bremer State High School teacher Yarham and good friend Jaden Russ spent time together in the US with similar goals.
But after a frustrating athletics period overseas, the Ipswich runner returned home and reunited with new coach Russ.
Yarham said teaming with him and working with students at Ipswich Grammar and BBC fuelled his competitive determination.
"Jaden knows me very well,'' the Queensland 10km titleholder said.
"He knows what works well, what doesn't work well for me and he has a lot of young kids, which is refreshing to be around.
"Some of those young boys are out there training with Jaden and it's kind of good. It makes me want to train again.
"I kind of don't want to get beat by the young boys.''
Yarham said with an age difference between Russ and some of the upcoming runners, he was invited to be a mentor at the squad. "He wanted me to help him out, communicate with some of those younger boys,'' the Ipswich teacher and elite athlete said.