Stephen Day of Wellington Scottish ran a personal best marathon by five minutes of 2:32:04 to win the New Zealand marathon title at the Gazley Volkswagen Wellington Marathon on Sunday, while Alice Mason from Cambridge took out the women’s crown.

The 41-year-old Day finished second in the race to American runner Dan Lowry who ran a race record of 2:22:43 breaking Dougal Thorburn’s 2013 record of 2:25:33.

The Japanese pair of Kosuke Hamada and Wellington based Hirotaka Tanimoto led early and by half way Lowry had caught Tanimoto and was going away.

Sam McCutcheon finished third and second in the national championship in 2:33:13, with Chris Hartshorn fourth in 2:36:37 and Chris Wharam fifth in 2:36:53. Hamada finished sixth and Tanimoto 16th.

With Hartshorn contesting his Masters age grade, third place in the championship went to Chris Wharam, also from Wellington Scottish, making it a trifecta for the club.

Day said that he switched his entry from the half to the full marathon earlier in the week because he wanted to be part of the winning Wellington Scottish team at the championships.

“So I ran the race feeling quite relaxed because I had not been targeting it for a long time,” said Day.

“I got into a nice group at the start with a couple of club mates. I was feeling bouncy so just picked it up a notch on the second half. As we turned into the wind for the last 8km I started to pick people off – first Kosuke Hamada, and then Hiro, and I got Sam with a bit less than 2km to go. I felt smooth and comfortable over that second half. Kept waiting for the wall but it never came.

“Obviously some of the top guys are targeting other races, or ran the half instead, or weren’t eligible for the title today, so I had quite a bit of luck picking up the title. But I’m rapt with the way I ran – it’s always nice to finish a race strong and roll over a few runners towards the finish. And I got my goal of being in the winning team too!” he added.

When Day ran his first marathon his aim was to beat Arthur Lydiard’s personal best of 2:39:05. He did this with 2:38:24 for fourth place in Rotorua in 2012. He achieved it again in the 2013 Auckland marathon running 2:37:00 for tenth.

Lydiard won the national title twice in 1953 and 1955.

“It’s pretty cool this time to now match Lydiard by picking up a marathon title, not to mention all the other amazing runners who also share that title, it’s a buzz,” said Day.

Alice Mason won the national women’s title in 2:48:36, three minutes outside her best set on the Gold Coast last July. Mason also set a race record eclipsing Australian Sara Burgess’ time in 2012 by four seconds.

Sally Gibbs (54) who led Mason by a minute at half way was second in 2:53:49 with Katherine Morgan crossing the line in third in 3:00:40. Gibbs holds the New Zealand masters 50-54 marathon record of 2:42:59 set in 2013.

Morgan was competing in her masters grade, so third place in the New Zealand Championship went to Bella Bloomfield from Otago in 3:05.56

The race was run in perfect conditions around the Wellington Harbour waterfront.

Senior Men: 1 Stephen Day (Wellington Scottish) 2:32:04, 2 Sam McCutcheon (Wellington Scottish) 2:33:13, 3 Chris Wharam (Wellington Scottish) 2:36:53.

Senior Women: 1 Alice Mason (Cambridge) 2:48:36, 2 Sally Gibbs (Tauranga) 2:53:49, 3 Bella Bloomfield  (Hill City) 3:05:56.

Masters Men 35-49: 1 Chris Hartshorn (Wellington Scottish) 2:36:37, 2 Matt Parsonage (Lake City) 2:38:44, Romain Mirosa (Hill City) 2:39:11.

Masters Men 50+: 1 Robbie Barnes (Marlborough) 2:51:47, 2 Paul Hewitson (Wellington Harriers) 2:57:36, 3 Graeme Butcher (Masterton) 3:12:59

Masters Women 35+: 1 Katherine Morgan (Auckland City) 3:00:40. 2 Lisa Brignull (Sumner) 3:06:43, 3 Annie Jerling (Masterton) 3:58:18.

Men’s Team: 1 Wellington Scottish 10:18:47.

Women’s Team: 1 Auckland YMCA Marathon 12:40:59

Athletics New Zealand