Steve Moneghetti Interview

February 20, 2014 0

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Steve Moneghetti is one of Australia’s all-time great marathon runners. He is in good company, with the likes of countrymen Ron Clarke and Rob de Castella however, Mona did win his share of international medals, including gold during the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games.

It seems he has a special connection to the games as he also earned a bronze in the 1986 Edinburgh Games and silver during the 1990 Auckland edition, both in the marathon distance. He also won a bronze during the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games 10,000 metre event. Since then he has twice been named Chef de Mission including for the 2014 Glasgow Games, as well as Athlete’s Village Mayor.

Moneghetti competed in four Olympic Games including the 1988 Seoul, 1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sidney games. He won a bronze in the 1997 IAAF World Track and Field Championships marathon that took place in Athens, Greece.

Moneghetti is a father of four and is a personal development consultant with the Ministry of Education. He is also chair of the Victorian Review into Physical and Sport Education in Schools.

Personal bests:

5000m – 13:25.77

10000m – 27:47.69

Half-marathon – 1:00:06

Marathon – 2:08:16

Christopher Kelsall: Are you getting much running in these days?

Steve Moneghetti: Yes, I still get out every day and get 100km per week most weeks with a session or two with a group here in Ballarat.

CK: At what age did you recognise that you have some good talent as a runner?

SM: I began running at age 14 but wasn’t that good initially, but when I started winning state titles here in Victoria I thought I had some ability and then when I won the unde-20 national cross country title, I actually started to believe I could be world class as a senior distance runner.

CK: Do any of your four kids show interest in endurance sports?

SM: Not the older two girls (19 & 17 years old) but our 13 year old boy has the same build, stride and temperament as me but we are just letting him run for the school at the moment and our youngest daughter, Olivia, made it to the State Primary School Cross Country Championships last year where she got absolutely smashed but it was a great effort for her (she is the quiet achiever in the family and is our most competitive sibling, which will serve art-353-moneghetti-200x0her well).

CK: For the movie you acted in, the Reverse Runner, how much backward sprinting did you have to do in training to play the part? How does one research the “sport”?

SM: None, they were kind to me; my challenge was getting into the essence of the role of past hero falling on hard times…..art imitating life really!

CK: Surely you had to seek outside inspiration? Do you possess any interest in further acting?

SM: If I had sought inspiration it would have been to give acting a miss, no offers are coming my way in a hurry. To be honest, I love what I do and enjoy the reality that life provides and I don’t need other media to explore that.

CK: Are you aware that runners around the world train using Mona-Fartlek? For how many weeks would you use this workout, leading up to a key race?

SM: Yes, and I am truly honoured by the fact that it has become world recognised. I did it every Tuesday night of the year unless I was a week out from a race when I would do 13 minutes of it to freshen up a bit – I am a creature of habit. I still do it occasionally on a Tuesday night around my beloved Lake Wendouree track.

CK: Apparently, you are for the second time in a row, the Chef de Mission for Team Australia for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Do you relish the leadership roles?

SM: Not really but I owe the Commonwealth Games for providing me with me start so if I can offer any assistance at all to the Oz Team then I am up for it.

CK: Moments before the 1994 Commonwealth Games marathon Rob de Castella was describing the course as “right up Steve’s alley” and “better for a strength runner”. You ended up winning by three minutes. Did you specifically prepare for courses or are you inherently a strength runner?

SM: It was as much the cool weather as the course I reckon but I was in great shape in 1994. My strength came to the fore as we went through half-way in around 67:30 and then I ran the second half in 64:15 and no one in the Commonwealth was going to beat me that day. I normally ran at least the last 10km of a course so I knew where to make my move or cover a move by another runner, it was one way of removing the uncertainty in a marathon as there was always something to deal with, so a good course knowledge allowed me to tick that box and focus on another issue that may arise.

CK: The Victoria course also did not lend itself to fast times did it?

SM: To be honest, Chris, I don’t actually remember much about the course as all I was focussed on was the other competitors. It was all about winning or placing irrespective of the time but I will say that if you run around 64 minutes for the second half of a championship marathon then you are going to be very, very competitive!

CK: Would you consider the Victoria Commonwealth Games the first of the games to become smaller, a more developmental meet for international athletes?

SM: I think that was evolving even as far back as Edinburgh in 1986 as there was a Kenyan boycott there. But I would have to say that the distance races and particularly the marathons were certainly not developmental….a check of the winners in the 70s, 80’s and 90s certainly proves that. Now?….well…hmmm.

CK: You had a couple of great world cross country championships finishing as high as sixth and fourth place. What was the difference in 1992 and 1989 when you finished that high?

SM: The course was a quagmire in ‘89 in and snowed under in ‘92 so my strength showed out over those tough courses.

CK: Your bests from 5000 metres to the marathon seem fairly even however, your times do appear to improve as you move up. Would you suggest that you got the most out of yourself at the shorter distances?

SM: Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could run 13:25 for 5km as I have no speed. So focussing on that with my coach certainly allowed me to run faster over the longer stuff, it was a means to an end really!

CK: At 51 years of age, you apparently won a marathon that is named after you. You finished in the time of 3:16. Any itch to train with some seriousness to see how fast you can go? The world 55 age-group record is 2:25:56 and 60-plus is 2:36:30, as I am sure you know.

SM: I was up there running the event and found myself up with the leaders so it was a slight embarrassment to actually end up winning. I ran 71.30 for a half-marathon and 31:30 for a 10km in November last year so I reckon I could run a 2.30 marathon and about 67 minute for a half if I had to but at 51 years of age and having been running since I was 14 years old I take every day I get a run in as a bonus…..no pressure.

CK: Off of one session and 100kms per week, I imagine you are leaving world age-group records on the table.

SM: Yes, mate I compete against myself and if someone says I just broke a record then so be it………I still wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t run as well as I wanted to. As the saying goes, once a competitive person, always a competitive person. So I will probably take that with me to the grave.

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