Blair McWhirter and Alice Mason were the overall winners at the Rotorua Marathon claiming the 2018 New Zealand marathon titles raced on Saturday around Lake Rotorua.
McWhirter from the Sumner Running Club in Christchurch went to the front of the race from the outset with young Lake City runner Michael Voss (21) and they were joined by Voss’ clubmate Sjors Corporaal (40) by the 10km mark.
The three leaders ran together through the hills and past the half way mark, sharing turns at the front for another 17 km in perfect conditions.
At 27km McWhirter, a 35 year old teacher, applied the pressure coming off the last of the hills and the group split up with Corporaal not able to respond and Voss running into trouble.
McWhirter who has a personal best of 2:22.38 set 12 months earlier at the London Marathon, continued to stretch his lead over the final 10km and came home in winning time of 2:29:00, almost six minutes clear of Corporaal.
The Whakatane farmer finished in 2:34:58 for second place while fast finishing Mick Keating from Auckland reeled in the faltering Voss to claim third place in 2:35:23. Voss eventually faded to seventh in his first marathon.
With the marathon doubling as the New Zealand Championships for 2018, the first three finishers all win their first New Zealand championship medals.
The women’s marathon saw pre-race favourite Alice Mason from Cambridge and marathon debutante Olivia Burne from Auckland run together for the first 20km, before defending NZ marathon champion Mason managed to get away from Burne and continued to gradually increase her lead.
The 30 year old doctor from Cambridge finished in the very good time of 2:46:44 for the tough Rotorua course, over six minutes ahead of Burne who was running her first marathon.
Mason was very pleased with her time, just outside her personal best set on a fast course in Japan six months ago.
Burne, from Auckland finished in 2:53:18, with fellow Aucklander Kate Loye finishing strongly to take third place in 2:58:28.
Mason and Burne took gold and silver in the 2018 NZ Marathon Championships while Wellington’s Letha Witham finished in fourth place to claim the bronze medal for the NZ Championships.
Jono Jackson and Lisa Cross were the winners in the Half Marathon on the new course offered at Rotorua this year.
Jackson from Auckland took out the men’s race in 1:13:18 from Kunaal Rajpal in 1:19:13 and Daniel Jones (1:19:30).
Fellow Aucklander Cross won the women’s half marathon with a time of 1:21:42 from Mel Aitken 1:26:45 and Erin Furness 1:38:32.
Courtesy of Athletics NZ