Sunday Star Times
A super-fit couple are hoping to run into the record books by becoming the first couple to win one of New Zealand's most prestigious marathons.
But Jess and Ben Ruthe won't just be competing against the thousands of runners lining up at the Rotorua Marathon on May 2.
Their personal rivalry has also helped spur both of them on through gruelling training regimes.
The couple, both aged 35, have two young kids and fit in running roughly 100km weekly around raising their family and work.
Ben says they train very differently. "She does everything by the book," he quips.
Longer training runs, physiotherapy and yoga are all part of the training regime, and Jess eats healthy food "all the time".
Ben said he trains less frequently "but more intensely" and eats a "typical Kiwi male diet".
He credits Jess with keeping him motivated.
"Without Jess there is no way I would still be competitive. She provides the foundation that enables me and encourages me to compete," he said.
Jess says running is more about enjoyment nowadays and having time out to herself. She credits running for helping her to recover from post natal depression after having their first child six years ago.
"Running gives balance in my life," she says.
Ben has a faster personal best marathon time, but says Jess has trained harder for this race.
And he's backing her to claim top spot.
Plus, she's got "winning genes" on her side. Her dad Trevor Wright won the Rotorua Marathon in 1984 (time 2:19:48), while her mum Rosemary Wright has twice placed second in this event (her best time was 2:48:16 in 1985).
Ben, the director of an insurance brokering business, says he backs his wife, the director of sport at Tauranga Girls College, to triumph on race day.
"If I was a betting man I would put money on Jess before me. But anything can happen on the day with a marathon and anyone in the top five could win. "However, other women will have to run well to beat Jess - she's really talented and her training is just so disciplined," he said.
Jess's vote however is on Ben because he's so "competitive" and "mentally tough".
Rotorua Marathon spokesman Mark Brent says if Jess and Ben come home first man and woman they will be the first couple to do this in this marathon's history books.
While if Jess clocks the win, this would mean the first time a father and daughter have won their event.
Meanwhile, the Tauranga couple's running history is impressive. And so too is Jess' parents extensive running feats.
Jess was the second woman home in the Rotorua Marathon last year and has a personal best of 2 hours 39 minutes.
Ben won the Auckland Marathon - which has the country's biggest field - in 2008 and came second also in that marathon in 2007. His best marathon time is 2:20 in the Gold Coast Marathon in 2007 when he placed second.
Jess' father Trevor Wright 's quickest marathon time is 2.12.28 (1983 in London). He's also represented England at the Commonwealth Games.
While Jess' mum, Rosemary Wright, has won gold in the 800m at the 1970 Commonwealth games running for Scotland.
Story by Rachel Grunwell
Source Sunday Star Times