Fast, Flat and Beautiful Running Highlights the 2023 Hawke’s Bay Marathon
Ingrid Cree and Ben Gatting have taken out the 2023 New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty Hawke’s Bay Marathon titles as the seventh edition of the event made a welcome return.
After enduring a difficult start to the year following Cyclone Gabrielle, Hawke’s Bay today celebrated the return of the event which brought thousands of excited runners and their supporters to the region. All were in a joyous mood as they made their way through stunning cycle trails and quiet country roads on their way to the finish-line food and wine festival at Elephant Hill Winery & Estate.
Ingrid Cree made it back-to-back Hawke’s Bay Marathon titles, winning in 2:47:22 and bettering her own course best time set last year by more than two minutes. It was also a new personal best time for 40-year-old Cree.
She ran most of the race in second position but was able to reel in lead female Alice Mason and eventually overtook with just a few kilometres to spare.
“I feel amazing, I just ran my own race because I knew there were some quicker runners in there, Alice is an amazing runner and it just worked out in the end. My daughter said, ‘she’s one minute ahead mum go’ and I thought I’d give it a go and managed to get the win so it’s fantastic,” said Cree.
It was Cree’s second time running the Hawke’s Bay Marathon, who was drawn back to the event by the beauty and atmosphere of the course and finish-line.
“I think it’s the atmosphere that keeps drawing me back, my kids also do the fun run and so it’s the whole family vibe, it’s really social, everyone is here and everyone seems to stick around and enjoy the vibes,” she said. “It’s so beautiful, we got amazing weather today as well but it’s just stunning. Incredible the work that’s been done here to recover to even have the event here this year after all the floods, so beautiful course. Most scenic marathon that I’ve done.
“Support was fantastic. I don’t know what they said to the 10k and half marathon runners but they cheered us on, they all moved to the side so it was really easy to get past and just so much support from them. It was great seeing my family and kids along the course, it was fantastic.”
The men’s marathon race was won by Aucklander Ben Gatting in 2:27:51.
“I’m feeling really good, the race went to plan, beautiful course, stunning course, the crowd really gets behind it so you have support most of the way around which just keeps you geed up, really fizzed the whole time so yeah, just feeling awesome. Great race and a fantastic course,” said Gatting.
“The trails were in good nick, it was a quick course, just flat the whole way but not a lot of wind and that nice soft bike trail most of the way along with a bit of road so you’re kind of changing up,” he said. “It’s a fast scenic course which helps to keep your mind off the running sometimes, so yeah it’s a good day out there for a run I reckon.”
Having made his way to Hawke’s Bay from Auckland, Gatting said he was keen to make the most of his weekend away in the Bay with his group of friends.
“I’ve got a few more mates coming in doing the marathon so I’ll definitely be sticking around, I think probably a Good George beer or two and watch them come in and then probably a big feed tonight, that’ll be the plan,” he said. “We want to make the most of being in the Bay, in this beautiful spot, definitely go out for dinner and then stick around tomorrow and just make the most of it. There’s a big group of us here so we’re all frothing and obviously it’s put on a fantastic day for us so that’s awesome.”
The La Roche Posay Half Marathon titles were taken out by Harry Dixon (1:06:43) and Camille French (1:14:43) – both setting new course best times, French by an impressive four minutes.
French, a Tokyo 2020 Olympian, ticked off another goal on her way back to peak form after giving birth to her daughter last year. It was her first-time racing at the Hawke’s Bay Marathon.
“It’s good, I was pleased to get out there today. It was sort of a training run but also just to see where I’m at before I start some marathon-type training from here,” she said. “I was excited to get the course record and get my name on the board.
“The course is great, I definitely need to get my family down to do the race, it’s such a cool course. I love that it finishes here (Elephant Hill) and it’s nice and flat so it’s a good course to do if you haven’t done many halves,” she said.
Thousands of participants from all over New Zealand and further afield took part in the seventh edition of the Hawke’s Bay Marathon.
The event continues to be hugely important for the region. This year two thirds of participants travelled to Hawke’s Bay from outside the region, many who will stay for the weekend and spend time and money at local restaurants, bars, and tourist attractions.
Good friends Jo Cameron and Letitia Stevenson came from Wellington and Taranaki respectively, along with a group of mates, to enjoy a weekend away in the Bay together.
“We decided to come for the Hawke’s Bay Marathon for a girls weekend, the opportunity to hang out with my girls,” said Jo.
“We just thought we’d throw in a race in there in the middle of it,” added Letitia.
“It was beautiful, a really gorgeous setting and nice energy, a good crew, course was easy to follow, beautiful track and nice and flat but equally very hard toward the end – just starting to feel all the pain points. But it was nice because as you got toward the end all the crowds and supporters started to increase so that was quite timely,” said Jo.
The group of friends said their post-race plans included spending time at the finish-line food and wine festival before heading out for dinner to celebrate their achievements.
“We’ll be heading over to the food and wine festival now and we will be sampling some cider,” said Letitia. “We have dinner reservations tonight, so we’ll probably rest between now and then.
“We all drove over and we’re staying in a cool lodge in Havelock,” she added. “We’re heading home tomorrow but we’ll have brunch with the girls in the morning and then home.”
The Hawke’s Bay Marathon will return to its usual date in the calendar in 2024. Entries for next year’s event, taking place on Saturday 18 May 2024, open tomorrow morning.
2023 Hawke’s Bay Marathon Winners
NZ Sotheby’s International Realty Marathon
Ingrid Cree (Wellington) – 2:47:42 (course best)
Ben Gatting (Auckland) – 2:27:51
La Roche Posay Half Marathon
Camille French (Hamilton) – 1:14:43 (course best)
Harry Dixon (Palmerston North) – 1:06:43 (course best)
Havana Coffee 10km
Mark Webber (Wellington) – 34:37
Nisha Moorfield (Hamilton) – 39:59