Close Racing and Picture Perfect Conditions Highlight ASICS Runaway Hawke's Bay Marathon

18 May 2024
Close Racing and Picture Perfect Conditions Highlight ASICS Runaway Hawke's Bay Marathon

Fast racing, incredibly close finishes and picture-perfect conditions have highlighted Saturday’s 2024 ASICS Runaway Hawke’s Bay Marathon.

Almost 5,500 runners finished one of four distances at the 2024 event, tackling the ASICS Marathon, La Roche Posay Half Marathon, 10km and Kennedy Park Resort Kids Run.

The Elephant Hill Winery and Estate finish line came alive at the finish of the women’s marathon, with Ingrid Cree edging out Debbie Donald by the narrowest of margins.

The front two were separated by centimetres at the end of the 42.2km event, with Cree breaking the tape in 2:46:47, lowering the Hawke’s Bay Marathon course best time that she already owned, with Jasmine Finney rounding out the podium.

“I’m spent, I’m have very tired legs, it was really great having Debbie out there, the competition just spurs you on,” said Cree. “This is the third time I’ve won this and each time it’s come down to the last k where I’ve just pipped second place for first so thanks to Debbie for a great run.

“I thought I had nothing left but when you see first place just in front you just go for it,” she said.

Michael Voss was the man to beat all day in the men’s marathon, claiming victory in 2:25:25, almost 10 minutes clear of Hamish Elliott, with James Fletcher just behind in third.

“I didn’t really know what to expect coming in to this one, it’s been quite a heavy four weeks with the national half in Christchurch and then the Rotorua Marathon two weeks ago, I did this race two years ago and I really enjoyed it so I thought I’d come back again,” said Voss. “The weather turned it on, no regrets but it was hard work, especially that last 10km.

“I just cruised off with the leader and then found myself by myself at about 15k, thought I’d just hold 3:30s or so, I was just in no-mans land really, just myself and the lead bike and then we started catching the half marathon athletes, that always gives you a bit of a boost,” he said. “Winning feels pretty special especially a big event like this, there’s always good quality athletes that line up, I’m always stoked to get the win.”

Like the women’s marathon the men’s half marathon title was in the balance until the final moments, with Cameron Graves winning in 1:06:23, just three seconds clear of Jack Moody, with Ben George Gatting third.

“I’m stoked to take the win, this is my second time coming down, I got second place last year so today was all about coming out with a good run, soaking in the atmosphere and running my heart out,” said Graves. “I took the win, got to run with one of my good training buddies, Jack Moody, who got second place, from pretty much the start line to the finish tape we were together and just happy to be out here with all the other runners.”

“My race plan was just to go out at about 3:05, 3:06 per kilometre pace, the body didn’t feel too flash out there today but the conditions were perfect so still managed to average 3:08 per k and just held a steady pace from the start and Jack and I were together with a couple of k’s to go and we just knuckled down and pushed each other and see who came out on top,” he said.

Graves said that he enjoyed both the course and conditions that runners took to on Saturday morning.

“It’s my second time running here so I knew the course was nice and flat, the limestone trails are beautiful to run on, nice and compact so you get rolling, it’s pretty much just as fast as running on the tar seal, scenery wise it’s stunning, everywhere you look up it’s so scenic and beautiful,” he said.

Claire Hammett claimed top step of the podium in the women’s half marathon, with the British runner finishing in 1:20:57, almost four minutes in front of Maisie Kilner, with Sophie Whelan third.

“I’m feeling pretty good, I was pleased to have finished it because I was struggling a bit with sciatica in the weeks leading up to this, pleased to have finished and felt ok today, it was a really nice course, beautiful, I was running on my own for quite a lot of it which I quite enjoy,” said Hammett. “I went out a bit quick but I realised that I was the first woman which was nice and then I tried to maintain that, it was quite difficult on the gravel actually compared to the road but it was pretty which made up for it.”

While Hammett spent more of the time on her way to victory running solo she enjoyed the opportunity to take in scenery on offer at the ASICS Runaway Hawke’s Bay Marathon.

“The support was good, my favourite part was when you catch up to the walkers and they were all really supportive,” she said. “The course was beautiful, it was nice to go by the ocean and I really liked the inlets over the bridges even though there was a bit of a hill to get over each one, it breaks it up a bit which is nice and gets you closer to civilisation where there are some more people.”

The men’s 10km title was claimed by Matthew Arnold, ahead of Michael Sinclair and Jayden Austin, with the women’s race won by Paige Dobson, with Kat Morgan second and Lauren Gowland third.

While there was plenty of attention on those at the front of the races the Hawke’s Bay Marathon caters to runners and walkers of all ages and abilities, bringing people to the region the region from not only across New Zealand but much further afield.

Pamela Dickerson and Christine Matthews travelled to the event from Australia, with Dickerson taking on the half marathon and Matthews the 10km, with both set to become Runaway Series MVPs at November’s New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty Queenstown Marathon presented by ASICS.

“We had a great day, beautiful weather, a great start, good track and the finish has been spectacular, we came across from Sydney and Dubbo in Australia,” said Dickerson. “It’s stunning, we’re staying in Napier, it’s pristine and gorgeous, the air is clean and everyone is friendly.”

When we came across groups of supporters it was fantastic, you could hear the fun in their voices,” she said. This has been spectacular, very relaxing, we’ll most likely come back again.”

All four courses lead runners and walkers through a scenic tour of the region, along Napier’s beautiful waterfront, winding through Hawke’s Bay Cycle Trails and quiet country roads before finishing at the impressive Elephant Hill Winery and Estate for a food and wine festival.

Sat,17 May 2025