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Voss Joins Select Group With Back-to-back Rotorua Marathon Titles

2021 Rotorua Marathon winner Michael Voss.

Home favourite Michael Voss became only the fourth man in history to claim back-to-back Rotorua Marathon victories as he ignited the 57th edition of the iconic race by storming to an emphatic win in 2:29:30.

Through intermittent showers, the Lake City AC athlete hit the front within the opening kilometre and by halfway had opened up a three-minute advantage on his nearest challengers, before further extending his advantage in the second half of the race to claim a memorable win.

In clinching victory, Voss joined Jack Foster (1972-73), Paul Ballinger (1988-89) and Dale Warrander (2004-05) and (2010-11) as the only men to achieve the feat of successfully defending the Rotorua Marathon title.

Behind, in a tight tussle for the minor podium, 42-year-old Greg Darbyshire set a PB of 2:34:19 to grab second ahead of his fellow Aucklander Ewan Sinclair (2:34:37).

Yet this was Voss’ day and the 24-year-old Rotorua-based builder was elated to have retained his title.

“I’m really stoked with the win,” he said.

“The crowd coming down that finishing chute was unreal, it makes all the late night training and hard work worth it.

“From the first kilometre I found myself in front and then I just time-trialled it, hoping to hold 3:30 kilometres the whole way. I started to get a calf niggle at 30km but thankfully that came right and I stayed pretty strong to bring it home.

“It feels special to join that small group of men to have won back-to-back Rotorua Marathon titles. Those guys are way ahead of me time-wise but my coach, Kim Stevenson, always tells me the history of the race with the likes of Jack Foster and Paul Ballinger. It is awesome to be a part of that legacy.”

Mum-of-two Ingrid Cree added her name to the roll call of women’s Rotorua Marathon champions to clinch the biggest win of her career so far.

The 38-year-old Wellington-based athlete finished third at last year’s event and improved on that performance, stopping the clock in 2:54:11.

“It is a dream come true to win such an iconic and historic marathon,” said Cree, who set a marathon PB of 2:53:30 to place third in Christchurch last month.

“I grew up in Ohope Beach and I remember doing school relays around the lake of 5km and 10km wondering how anyone could run a full marathon. It has always been an event I’ve admired. More recently, I knew it was an event I was capable of winning and to do so is an amazing and incredible feeling.”

Cree is largely self-coached but receives some guidance from husband Elliot, who this weekend was running in the Westland South Island Ultra Marathon. She acknowledged it was a daunting challenge to run Rotorua only a few weeks after completing the Christchurch Marathon.

But she timed her effort to perfection on the day.

“I paced the race a lot better today than I did last year. I had two great guys running at a similar pace to me and it was great to be able to chat with them in the first half of the race before I got really stuck into it in the second half.

“It was such a great feeling running down that finishing chute, although thank goodness there was no one behind me because I didn’t have much of a sprint finish left.”

Rotorua-based Sue Crowley, 51, enjoyed an excellent run to dip below the three-hour mark and record 2:59:19 for second. Auckland-based Anna Williams (3:11:21) rounded out the podium finishers.

Earlier in the day, around 4,000 participants – the highest number since the historic 50th edition seven years ago – set out in a light drizzle to take on either the full marathon, Red Stag Timber half marathon, Go Media 10km or 5.5km distances.

In the Red Stag Timber half marathon, Sjors Corporaal upgraded on his second-place finish last year to take victory in the men’s race. The 43-year-old Galatea-based athlete stopped the clock in 1:12:29.

The women’s half-marathon victor was Katie Wyrill (Auckland), who completed the 21.1km distance in 1:32:01.

Among the finishers today included The Hits radio presenters Mike Puru and Anika Moa, who completed the Red Stag Timber half marathon in 2:19:19 and 2:57:38 respectively, and colleague Stacey Morrison, who took 1:15:33 to finish the 10km.

Puru, who survived a dog attack, nasty spider bite and dental surgery in his preparation, was delighted with his performance.

“My mission was to beat 2:23 and I just did it, so maybe next year I’ll go under two hours,” he said.

“The first 11km through the Redwoods nearly killed me but I found my groove after that. It is such a great event, you meet so many random people on the side giving you support. To compete at the Rotorua Marathon is something you can do for you and that is why I love it.”

Iain Macdonald (34:56) from Tauranga grabbed top men’s spot in the Go Media 10km with New Zealand U-20 5000m champion Hannah Gapes (Rotorua) claiming an eye-catching victory in the women’s race, registering an impressive 36:17.

The 5.5km run/walk honours went to Ashton Guitry (Tokoroa), who recorded 22:53 in the men’s race, while Bronwen Rees-Jones of Cambridge recorded 22:58 to take victory in the women’s division.

For all the results from the 2021 Rotorua Marathon please click here.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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