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Half Marathon Promises Fast Times

Half Marathon Promises Fast Times

Fast times and cut-throat racing will be the order of the day in Christchurch this Sunday as a collection of Kiwis take on contenders from Australia, Singapore and USA at the Christchurch Airport Half Marathon.

While the Full Marathon remains the feature event, this weekend’s Christchurch Airport Half Marathon is shaping up as the fastest 21.1k in New Zealand for several years. Both the men’s and women’s fields include former Christchurch winners alongside runner-up’s and first time contenders looking for their first win in the South Island’s premier marathon event.

International interest is high, with Australians Brady Threlfall and Australian Patrick Nispel, American Rick Workman and Singapore’s Ying Ren Mok all having credentials to contend for line honours.

Ying Ren Mok, Singapore’s record older over both the half marathon and full marathon, is remembered as the winner of the Christchurch Airport Marathon here in 2011, while Threlfall returns looking to improve on a close fifth place in the half marathon last year when just 23 seconds separated him from the win.

Auckland’s Aaron Pulford will be even more motivated than Brady Threlfall. He finished third in 2013, recording a personal best time of 66min 11secs, but had he been six seconds faster he would have stood on the top step of the podium.

Last year’s winner, Wellington’s Hamish Carson, is overseas chasing Commonwealth Games 1500m qualification. But in a deep field, young runners like Wellington’s Tim Hodge, Wanaka’s Oska Inkster-Baynes, Christchurch’s Callan Moody and Dunedinites Caden Shields and Peter Meffan are all national medallists who will be hunting for their first major win.

There will be much interest too in last year’s 10k winner, Dunedin’s Daniel Balchin, who is now based in Christchurch and taking his first serious tilt at the 21.1k distance. But the rookie most likely to run away with the spoils is Auckland’s Malcom Hicks.

The 25 year old is relatively untested over the half marathon but as a sub-four minute miler and reigning national champion over 5000m, cross country and 10k road he has an enviable mix of speed and strength. With a recent 13min 43sec 5000m and 29min 16sec 10,0000m, Hicks also has the best recent form.

One person who will be looking simply to repeat their form of a year ago is the women’s half marathon champion, Alex Williams.

The 33 year old was a surprise winner in 2013, outpacing recently crowned national marathon champion Sally Gibbs (Kati Kati) and 2012 Christchurch Half Marathon winner Lisa Robertson (Akld).

This year Williams faces a former winner of both the half and full marathon at Christchurch, in the ever-green Gabby O’Rourke.

The Wellington school teacher won the Christchurch Half Marathon in 1998 and 1999 and the Full Marathon in 1994. While that was some two decades ago, the 47 year old remains very competitive with second place in 2012’s Full Marathon and third in 2011’s Half Marathon, when she actually beat fifth placed Williams.

Their rematch will make for interesting watching, with Williams having the faster recent half marathon time of 1hr 16min 25sec when winning last year, not to mention winning the 2013 national half marathon title.

Scheduled for Sunday 1st June, entries for the 34th Christchurch Airport Marathon continue to climb back to pre-earthquake levels, with approximately 4500 runners and walkers from 13 countries expected to line up at the Christchurch Airport start line.

Entries for the 2014 Christchurch Airport Marathon are still open atwww.christchurchmarathon.co.nz, or at the Event Village at Orchard Road, Christchurch Airport on Saturday between 9am and 6pm.

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