Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


First Rotorua Marathon Winner Returns For 60th Anniversary Edition

The inaugural winner of the Red Stag Rotorua Marathon Dave Heine is set to return for the 60th anniversary event on 4 May and hopes to participate in the Go Media 10km race.

The 82-year-old, who only very recently retired as a civil engineer, created history to win the 1965 Rotorua Marathon, clocking a time of 2:35:04 to win by a near two-and-a-half-minute margin from pre-event favourite Viv Donovan, the Waikato Marathon champion.

Completing a lap of the lake in an anti-clockwise fashion – today the race is clockwise – from a start point of the Remembrance Wall on Memorial Drive to finish on the Lakefront, Dave is immensely proud of his victory, although it did come as an unexpected shock.

Dave Heine. Photo credit: Marathon Photos

“I was more of a middle-distance runner, when my coach at that time said it would be good to run the Rotorua Marathon as a training run,” he says. “I felt pretty good all the way but for me to hit the front and win the race was a great surprise.”

Raised in Orakei in East Auckland, today he lives nearby in Mission Bay, Dave started his running journey as an Auckland Grammar School student. He later competed for the Onehunga Harrier Club – his mile PB was a very handy 4:04 - before he relocated to Rotorua as a young engineer with the Ministry of Works in the mid-1960s.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

Accustomed to an Arthur Lydiard-style 100-mile a week training regime – which included a heavy diet of hill training – he was a strong runner so when his Rotorua Amateur Athletic and Harrier Club coach at the time, Harry Hoddinott, suggested running in the first ever Rotorua Marathon, he was unfazed.

“As I always did a long run on a Sunday anyway and Rotorua was a great place to train, I didn’t think anything of running around the lake, it was a perfect run,” explains Dave.

Setting out in a field of 16 starters – twelve were to complete that inaugural event – Dave recalls running in a pair of canvas tennis shoes with a rubber sole while his nutritional strategy was non-existent.

“Nutrition was something I didn’t think about, and I can’t even remember taking a drink in the marathon, which is crazy when you think about it,” recalls Dave.

Catching and passing Viv Donavan from Whakatane in the latter stages, Dave was delighted to find himself in the lead to cross the line first. However, although he gave a post-race radio interview and was given a barometer as a post-race prize, he admits there was little fanfare following his victory.

“It almost felt like a local club run in that we just finished the race like mates with a pat on the back,” he adds.

Dave wound down his running career shortly after once he returned to Auckland to focus on his career as a civil engineer.

Ten years ago, he returned to walk the full marathon for the 50th anniversary Rotorua Marathon and was gobsmacked at how the event had grown from relatively humble beginnings.

“I can’t really believe it, it is amazing,” says Dave, a grandfather of two, who still runs regularly today. “Part of its appeal is it is one lap of the lake a very natural feature and a very attractive thing.

While navigating those hills on the back of the course represents another special challenge.”

David is delighted to return for the Go Media 10km some 60 years on from his pioneering success and is quietly humbled it continues to be referenced.

“It keeps coming up, and it is rather nice to be reminded of that time,” admits Dave. “I just remember the great camaraderie I enjoyed with my fellow club-mates at both the Rotorua Harrier club and Onehunga club, so many memories.”

So what advice would the maiden winner of the Rotorua Marathon give to all those competing in the 60th anniversary event?

“Just enjoy it,” says Dave. “I was amazed when I walked the marathon ten years ago the number of spectators, the drums. You could hardly walk or run a few hundred metres without someone offering their support. You just need to ride the wave of the spectators.”

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.