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Return of the Champions

Return of the Champions

A healthy handful of past winners will go head to head at next week’s Christchurch Airport Marathon event.

Timaru’s Sam Wreford is the top dog among Kiwi marathoners of late. The 30 year old won last year’s Christchurch Airport Marathon in 2:17.30, then followed up with a 2:16.35 in Invercargill last November and more recently took out the Rotorua Marathon.

Wreford returns to the 2013 Christchurch Airport Marathon as the odds-on favourite, but standouts such as Dale Warrander and Phil Costley might have something to say about that.

Costley and Warrander both have best times around 2hrs 13min and have won more than 50 national titles between them. They have also been multiple winners in the Christchurch Airport Marathon, with Warrander having won the half marathon three times while Costley has won both the half and full marathon.

Costley would have faced Wreford at Rotorua three weeks ago, but was busy cleaning up flood damage to his Nelson home. The Nelson College teacher has won the Christchurch full marathon twice, in 1999 and 2004, and the half marathon in 2001 in 62min 41secs, which at the time was the fastest half marathon ever run by a New Zealander in New Zealand (the mark was broken the following year when Costley narrowly lost to Olympian Jonathan Wyatt).

More recently Costley has morphed into the country’s best veteran, winning veteran titles at the Christchurch half marathon and full marathon in 2010 and 2011. The 2010 performance set a veteran’s half marathon record of 66min 01secs and this year he’ll no doubt have his eye on Jack Foster’s veteran full marathon record of 2hrs 22min 48secs, which dates back to the very first Christchurch Marathon in 1981.

Much like Jack Foster before him, the 43 year old Costley is still a contender for overall honours in any race he starts. He won the Rotorua Marathon as recently as 2012 and was third in the Christchurch Airport Half Marathon in 2010 and second in the full marathon in 2011. So Sam Wreford will have no room for error.

A man who may have more motivation than either of them, however, is Dale Warrander.

Warrander has won every major marathon in New Zealand, except Christchurch, and at 2hrs 12min 58secs he has the fastest best time in the race and represented New Zealand at the Athens Olympics. A win at Christchurch would crown the 39 year old’s career and his form in recent years has been at least the equal of Wreford.

It was Warrander who Wreford beat to win last year’s Christchurch Airport Marathon, but that’s the only time the Timaru runner has beaten Gold Coast-based Kiwi. In 2011 Warrander won the Rotorua Marathon and the Christchurch half marathon. In 2010 he beat Wreford to win the Auckland Marathon, with both men running under 2hrs 20min.

So while Wreford has recent form on his side, Warrander and Costley have experience and faster best times over all distances. But all three know that the secret to winning over the classic 42.2k distance can be something of a lottery. To win you first have to beat your own body and mind.

Scheduled for Sunday 2nd June, entries for the 2013 Christchurch Airport Marathon are close to the pre-earthquake numbers of 2009 and 2010.

“In 2010 we had a record entry of 5800 participants,” says race director Chris Cox. “But then the earthquakes cut entries almost in half. So to be close to 5000 entries again only three years later is really heartening.”

Entries for the 2013 Christchurch Airport Marathon Event are still open. Race day is Sunday 2nd June. For details visit: www.christchurchmarathon.co.nz.


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