Above: Phil Costley (left) and Sam Dobson like the taste of their medals at the Rotorua Marathon. Photo by Alan McDonald Macspeedfoto.
Sam Dobson and Naoko Tsuchiya both played the waiting game and came through over closing stages to win the men's and women's titles at the Lion Foundation Rotorua Marathon on Saturday.
Dobson (29) from Auckland was first across the line in the iconic event in 2:29:04, 27 seconds ahead of three times winner Phil Costley with Jono Jackson in third place, another 55 seconds back.
Making the best of the perfect conditions, a lead group of five athletes including all the pre-race favourites Dobson, Costley, Jackson, along with Chris Sanson and Ben Ruthe broke away right from the start taking turns at the front and went through the half way point in 1:17:25.
Costley was the first to drop off the pace on the hills at the back of the course, but the cagey 45 year old was simply conserving energy and got back with the leaders soon after.
Ben Ruthe was the first to fold, dropping off around the 30km mark, then Sanson found the pace too tough. Dobson had enough strength at the end, edging ahead of Jackson and Costley to win in a personal best time, a good achievement on the challenging course. Jackson's time for third was also a personal best.
Jess Ruthe started off at a very quick pace, going through the half way mark in 1:22:35, five minutes ahead of the next fastest female runners, but a calf injury with 10 km to go ruined her hopes.
Tsuchiya, third in the 2008 Rotorua Marathon and previously three-times winner of the Sydney Marathon and Erin Furness, winner of the 2013 Rotorua event took the lead and fought out the final kilometres before the Japanese runner edged ahead and went on to win in 2:53:24, almost two minutes ahead of Furness.
Katie Wyrill from Auckland finished under the three hour barrier for third place.
Tim Stewart (Hamilton) won a very close RECT half marathon in 1:08:28, eight seconds ahead of eighteen year old Michael Voss from Rotorua with Josh Maisey (Auckland) third another six seconds back. All three ran personal best times for the distance.
Lisa Robertson won the women's half marathon in 1:15:34 from fellow Aucklander Alice Mason and Serena Hammond (Thames).
Over 5,700 runners and walkers took place in the various events over the two days including over 1,600 children in the NZ Post Mini Marathon on Friday.
1 Sam Dobson (Auckland) 2:29:04, 2 Phil Costley (Nelson) 2:29:31, 3 Jonathan Jackson (Auckland) 2:30:26, 4 Chris Sanson (Palmerston North) 2:31:32, 5 Ben Ruthe (Tauranga) 2:35:02.
1 Naoko Tsuchiya (Japan) 2:53:24, 2 Erin Furness (Hamilton) 2:55:17, 3 Katie Wyrill (Auckland) 2:58:07, 4 Gabrielle O'Rourke (Wellington) 3:01:32, 5 Kovo Kowalewski (Hamilton) 3:04:16.
Half Marathon Men
1 Tim Stewart (Hamilton) 1:08:28, 2 Michael Voss (Rotorua) 1:08:36, 3 Josh Maisey (Auckland) 1:08:42.
Half Marathon Women
1 Lisa Robertson (Auckland) 1:15:34, 2 Alice Mason (Auckland) 1:16:18, 3 Serena Hammond (Thames) 1:22:27.