Beaming smiles and whoops of delight were the order of the day at the Air New Zealand Hawke’s Bay Marathon, in particular at the stunning finish line at Sileni Estates Winery, with runners in the 10km race, New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty Half Marathon and Air New Zealand Marathon overcoming some tricky conditions to be welcomed home by waiting family and friends.
With some small changes to the course due to the heavy rain of the previous 36 hours, times will be bracketed in the record books when compared to last year, but there were some impressive performers, notably Sam Wreford in the men’s marathon, and Chris Sanson and Laura Nagel in the Sotheby’s International Realty Half, all of whom smashed the times set in last year’s inaugural event.
Timaru based Wreford wasn’t so much racing the others, as his own watch, in a hugely impressive performance that saw him clock 2:27:08, eclipsing the 2016 time of James Parsons by just over eight minutes.
“I have been doing marathons for a few years now under the coaching of Barry Magee, a Lydiard trained athletes so today’s conditions were fine. The idea today was a solid tempo time trial, that was the goal today, we will target something a bit faster perhaps in July.
“It was slippery in places, at times it was more cross country but that suited my background and I loved it. I am looking at maybe the Gold Coast Marathon and will look to run fast there, we will see how the next few weeks go.
“I loved it, it was beautiful running out there from Marine Parade, through the countryside and amongst the vineyards, just fantastic, I loved it.”
Former triathlete Will O’Connor was delighted with his runner-up finish, powering through in the second half of the race to claim second on a day when he was experimenting with a run/walk strategy that had a few people confused.
“I had a plan, I raced last year and the last 10km can be brutal. I got the other guys at 4k to go and put a surge on so obviously paced it way better and came home second. I put it out there on social media about the walk run and got a few messages saying ‘this guy is an idiot’. When I came to the first aid station at 5k, I was third but I started walking and suddenly everyone stopped clapping and started asking if I was alright – I just nodded and said yeah, don’t worry about me!”
Marisa Ruhter improved on her third place from last year to come home first in the Air New Zealand Women’s Marathon, in the process taking over 15 minutes off her 2016 time.
“That is awesome. The headwind picked up in the second half of the race and I think the second half today would have been slower for everyone, I was hoping for a better time but the conditions have dictated otherwise today.”
Appropriately for an event sponsored by Air New Zealand, Ruhter is an aircraft engineer, working as a Field Service Representative for Boeing. The American is based in Auckland but it was the local delicacies top of mind soon after finishing.
“I am taking a break now, right now I am off to sample some of the great wine and food here in Hawke’s Bay.”
Chris Sanson was an impressive winner of the New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty Half Marathon. The Manawatu athlete made a late call to switch from the full marathon given the conditions and the fact he had won the Rotorua Marathon just a week ago.
“It was really good out there, that was a fast finish, a sprint with 200m to go and get the job done. I am normally a front runner and don’t like to have company and I tried to get away but he held strong and I thought man, I might be second today, he is such a good runner. But I waited for the sprint and got him, that was cool.”
Just as impressive was the women’s winner, with Laura Nagel taking almost five minutes off the record time set last year in coming home in 1:21:09, a time made all the more impressive given it was her first attempt at the distance.
“That was good, it was kind of like cross country season with a bit of mud near the start and with a bit of a head wind most of the way, I am happy with how that went. Today was just about coming away with the win, I have been away in the Philippines for a couple of weeks and didn’t do much running and have only been back training for a couple of weeks so it was really a case of seeing how it went.”
Behind the winners but still high on their achievements were many stories of runners and walkers who were ticking off their own objectives and goals on the day, not the least of which was Wellington’s Matt Toole.
Toole is booked in for a Kidney transplant surgery in July and is using running to stay as fit and healthy as he can prior to the surgery. Toole completed the 10km today in 1:21:28 in an inspirational performance.
“That was a bit of a struggle, the body is not as good as it was. The mind is there and I just had to keep telling myself to put my head down and go every time I stopped. I just put some good music on and put my head down and kept going. It was a bit chilly this morning and I didn’t get much sleep last night, I was a bit anxious, but I am so glad I have done this.
“Surgery is on July 5, so we are six weeks out and I want to keep running and to into the surgery with that attitude, just taking things one day at a time.”
Multiple World and Olympic rowing champion Mahe Drysdale was another competing, but not in the full marathon as he had hoped, with injuries restricting his day to the 10km.
“This weekend is about family, we are all here and enjoying the event and the region. I am about to get back into serious training again so it is nice to be out here taking part in an event like this, with the family here and involved. It has been a good family day and a chance to run with the kids in their race and hand out some medals, so it has been good fun.”
Despite those cooler than anticipated conditions, there were rave reviews for the event, in particular the ‘Air New Zealand Final Mile’ celebration, as a party atmosphere was created to bring participants over the line.
The wine and food festival at Sileni Estates was also well attended, with everyone enjoying a sampling of some of the wonderful food and refreshments on offer from the world class wine and food producing Hawke’s Bay region.
Air New Zealand Hawke’s Bay International Marathon
Full Results CLICK HERE
Air New Zealand Marathon
1 Samuel Wreford, Timaru, 2:27:08
2 Will O’Connor, Manawatu, 2:45:52
3 Luke Hurring, Auckland, 2:48:36
1 Marisa Ruhter, Auckland, 3:04:05
2 Michelle Law, Wellington, 3:16:48
3 Wing Hay Heidi Yu, Hong Kong, 3:17:33
1 Joff Hulbert, 5:07:26
2 Simon Law, 5:59:35
3 Stephen Houltham, 6:28:22
1 Christine Maxwell, 5:27:41
2 Madeleine Howard, 5:59:36
New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty Half Marathon
1 Chris Sanson, Manawatu, 1:12:14
2 Dan Wallis, UK based Kiwi (Napier), 1:12:29
3 Ryan McAlister, Blenheim, 1:14:50
1 Laura Nagel, Napier, 1:21:09
2 Hillory Wallis, Australia, 1:25:44
3 Grace Ritchie, Hamilton, 1:26:35
1 Derren Hutchinson, 2:26:45
2 Rand Huso, 2:50:06
3 Peter Semmens, 2:54:25
1 Robyn Wolfsbauer, 2:36:08
2= Jules Benton, 2:43:11
2= Bridget Jakicevich, 2:43:11
1 Aaron Jackson, Auckland, 35:51
2 Cameron Keast, UK (Bay of Plenty), 37:40
3 Mathijs Wetzels, Hamilton, 38:10
1 Amber Morrison, Havelock North, 41:18
2 Anna Kean, Wellington, 41:27
3 Maggie Pedersen, Napier, 42:43
1 Craig Thompson, 1:23:30
2 Brendan Jackson, 1:27:06
3 Ross Cammick, 1:28:20
1 Tamsin Brown, 1:01:10
2 Patricia Martin, 1:08:17
3 Lizzie Dickson, 1:17:01