Dale Warrander claimed a historic victory, racing into the Events Centre at the Government Gardens to secure his fifth win in the iconic event. Warrander now has the outright most number of wins surpassing the great Jack Foster who collected the winner’s cup four times during the 1970s.
“Jack Foster is a guy I look up to and he was tragically killed in 2004 and I pay my win to him today,” said Warrander.
Scott Winton, twice previous winner, made Warrander work hard for the win, which doubled as the New Zealand championship to also give Warrander his fourth New Zealand title.
Winton made a break on the start of the tough uphill slog at the back of the Lake around the 16km mark. Coming off the hill Winton had a 47 second led over Warrander. On the long straights past the airport Warrander slowly started to cut into Winton’s advantage and with 5km remaining had caught him.
His finishing time was 2h 23m 1s, 1m 51s ahead of Winton with Japanese visitor Masashi Shirotake taking third in 2h 26m 9s. Running his first marathon Dougal Thorburn of Dunedin was fourth 2h 28m 34s, with Luke Hurring fifth 2h 29m 26s.
The 37 year old said that he always respects Winton. “He’s a good runner always strong over the marathon, he’s got experience and he’s the one I was worried about when this race started and I knew Scotty would be the one to beat,” said Warrander.
“When Scott took off I couldn’t cover his move, I didn’t feel like I was ready to go and I let him go and I was just hoping that it paned out like last year and I was able to come through strong in the second half which fortunately I was able to do – I struggled the last 2km but I knew I had it in the bag,” he added.
Warrander said that he is running as well as he was six or seven years ago and has given him the heart to go on and try and make it to the London Olympic Games next year. “I’m back to the Gold Coast and do some good training over winter, I want to have a crack at qualifying for the Olympics,” said Warrander, who does the bulk of his training with Mike Shelley, tenth in the recent London Marathon in 2h 11m 38s.
“I’ll look for a fast marathon at the end of the year, possibly Chicago in October or Fukuoka in December. If I do Chicago I’ll do the Auckland half marathon and if I do Fukuoka I’ll bypass Auckland,” said Warrander.
Winton said that he gave the race his best shot. "I felt really good in a group up to 13km. Someone clipped my heel so I thought I'd just get away just to see how the other guys were feeling and to see where Dale was and to see if people would respond. But obviously Dale is a good runner and closed me down," said Winton.
Johanna Ottosson of Rotorua repeated her win of last year, coming through over the second half to beat Victoria Beck of Dunedin. Ottosson put nearly eight minutes on Beck to win in 2h 48m 28s. Sally Gibbs of Katikati (W45-49) was third in 2h 59m 22s.
“My god that was very, very painful, I was carrying a bit of an injury,” said Ottosson. “My quads were killing me as I haven’t done much road work following an inflamed tendon in the ankle.But I kept focussing on the incredible feeling from last year and what it feels like to finish first,” she added.
Beck said that she had really good preparation leading up to the race but had a medical scare last Wednesday. “I fainted quite badly in training, but the doctor cleared me to compete today,” said Beck.
Two age group records were set Warrander in the 35-39 age group with his 2h 23m 1s and Ray Urbahn of Red Beach Auckland with an outstanding 4h 46m 7s in the M80 plus group. This time by the 81 year old Urbahn broke Stan Gawler’s record set last year of 5h 3m 24s.
Urbahn who was second last year in 5h 4m 28s, was not happy in being beaten last year that he returned determined to win and break Gawler’s record. He also ran faster than Gawler’s NZ masters M80 record of 5h 1m 14s. In the New Plymouth mountain to surf marathon in March Urbahn ran 4h 39m 0s. Urbahn trains every day and once a week goes out for a three to four hour run. He also uses Red Beach to train regularly running up and down the beach six times in one session. The world’s best marathon by an 81 year is 3h 47m 4s set by Gordon Porteous of Scotland in 1995.
Aaron Pulford of Thames won the associated half marathon in 1h 7m 41s, five minutes ahead of Jonny McKee of Pakuranga. The women’s half went to Emily Solsberg of Wellington in 1h 28m 4s.