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Heather Turland

Heather Turland
Medal record
Women's athletics
Representing  Australia
Commonwealth Games
Gold medal – first place 1998 Kuala Lumpur Marathon

Heather Turland (born 27 April 1960) is an Australian former long-distance runner who competed in road running events. Her greatest achievement was a gold medal in the marathon at the 1998 Commonwealth Games. Her personal best for that distance is 2:34:10 hours.

She was a recreational runner until 1993, by which point she had had four children and was over thirty. She ran at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in 1994 and 1996, reaching eighth place at the latter race. She made her marathon debut in 1996 in Frankfurt, coming third in a lifetime best. She went on to represent Australia over that distance at the World Championships in Athletics, coming 20th in 1997 but failing to finish in 1999. Through her 1998 Commonwealth Games victory, she became the oldest Australian to compete in the event's athletics programme.


Early life

Born and raised in Southern Highlands, New South Wales, she came from a large family of 6 children and lived on a dairy farm. She did not run competitively in her youth and left education to begin a hairdressing apprenticeship. She married Garry Turland and the pair had their first child in June 1982.[1] The two settled into a family life in Bowral on Mount Gibraltar, going on to have four children in the space of six years, with their last being born in Feb 1988.[2]

Turland always love to keep fit running or swimming It remained simply a hobby into her early thirties. The 1993 City2Surf made Turland reassess this situation, as with no training regime she ended fifth in the high level women's race. Her husband encouraged her to take the sport seriously and contacted the Australian Institute of Sport for some basic training advice.[2]

First international races

Turland established herself among Australia's elite runners in 1994. First she won the Sydney Half Marathon, beating Commonwealth Games medallist Tani Ruckle and gaining sponsorship from Puma as a result.[2] She then went on to take the national title over the half marathon distance. This brought her international selection for the first time and she managed to finish 49th out of 88 runners at the 1994 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships (second among Australians, behind Susan Mahony).[3] She returned to the City to Surf race in August and topped the podium.[4] She competed in races in Asia, Europe and North America the following year and by the time she entered the 1996 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships she was a much improved runner.[2] There, she finished in a time of 72:46 minutes for ninth place (later upgraded to eighth due to Cristina Burca's doping ban).[5] She also won both the Australian half marathon title and City to Surf for a second time in 1996.[4][6]

The 1996 Frankfurt Marathon was the venue for her debut over the classic marathon distance.[2] The 36-year-old was nervous about her ability to cover the distance, but her husband insisted she had the strength for a good performance. Her time of 2:34:10 hours was enough for third place in the elite level marathon and was an Olympic qualifying time.[2] At the start of the next year she won the Sydney Half Marathon and was selected to run the marathon for Australia at the 1997 World Championships in Athletics. A foot injury hampered her preparations but she returned to fitness in time for the event in Athens. In her second ever outing for the distance she placed 20th at the World Championship marathon.[7] At the end of the year she represented Australia at the Chiba Ekiden and also set a personal best in the 10,000 metres track distance with 33:28.40 minutes for fourth at the Zatopek 10,000.[8]

Commonwealth title

The start of 1998 did not bode well for Turland. While on her way to compete at the 1998 IAAF World Cross Country Championships she was hit by a motorcycle in Rome and injured. Despite her leg being in plaster for a month, she managed to return to action a few months later. The peak of her career came at the 1998 Commonwealth Games held in September in Kuala Lumpur. She was the oldest ever picked for the Australian athletics team at the event.[9] Turland competed in the marathon and took victory with a run of 2:41:24 hours – winning her first international medal at the age of 38. She led an Australian 1–2 finish, as Lisa Dick was runner-up some 20 seconds behind.[10] This made her the second Australian to win the title, after Lisa Martin who won the first two titles over the distance. Turland was given "The Don" at the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Awards for her performance – the highest honour given by the organisation.[11] The Nagano Marathon was her first marathon of 1999 and she ran the second fastest time of her career (2:36:26 hours) to finish fifth at the race and earned selection for the 1999 World Championships in Athletics. That July she equalled her half marathon personal best at the Townsville Running Festival.[8] At the World Championships she could not match her previous performances and was among the first to drop out of the marathon race, soon after crossing the halfway mark.[12]

The last major win of her career came at the 2002 Sydney Marathon, where she topped the podium at the age of 42 to take the Australian national title over the distance.[13] After retirement, she continued to run recreationally and entered the 2009 City to Surf in the mother/son category with Cade (her youngest).[14]

Personal bests

International competition record

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
1994 World Half Marathon Championships Oslo, Norway 49th Half marathon 1:14:17
1996 World Half Marathon Championships Palma de Mallorca, Spain 8th Half marathon 1:12:46
1997 World Championships Athens, Greece 20th Marathon 2:42:12
1998 Commonwealth Games Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 1st Marathon 2:41.24
1999 World Championships Seville, Spain Marathon DNF


  1. ^ Heather Turland . Ovations. Retrieved on 16 July 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Kunkler, Amanda (5 July 1997). Heather Turland – A Balanced Life. Illawarra Mercury. Retrieved on 16 July 2014.
  3. ^ Heather TURLAND (NSW). Australian Athletics. Retrieved on 16 July 2014.
  4. ^ a b City to Surf 14 km. Association of Road Racing Statisticians. Retrieved on 16 July 2014.
  5. ^ AIMS NEWSLETTER – A MONTHLY REVIEW FROM THE ASSOCIATION OF INTERNATIONAL MARATHONS AND ROAD RACES, No.165, November 1999, Association of International Marathons and Distance Races, November 1999, retrieved 5 September 2013
  6. ^ National Road Champions for Australia. Association of Road Racing Statisticians. Retrieved on 16 July 2014.
  7. ^ Heather Turland – 1st Aussie in Marathon. Sydney Morning Herald (9 August 1997). Retrieved on 16 July 2014.
  8. ^ a b Heather Turland. Tilastopaja. Retrieved on 16 July 2014.
  9. ^ Moqhali is the marathon man . BBC Sport (20 September 1998). Retrieved on 18 July 2014.
  10. ^ Harper, Tony (20 September 1998). Jarrett breaks through for hurdles win. Canoe Slam. Retrieved on 16 July 2014.
  11. ^ The Don Award. Australia Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved on 18 July 2014.
  12. ^ Official Results – MARATHON – Women – Final. IAAF. Retrieved on 18 July 2014.
  13. ^ National Marathon Champions for Australia. Association of Road Racing Statisticians. Retrieved on 18 July 2014.
  14. ^ Huxley, John (8 August 2009). Lure proves overpowering for marathon mum Turland. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved on 18 July 2014.
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Heather Turland
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