Waiheke runners dominated Saturday’s Wharf2Wharf nib marathon, taking first place in both male and female races.
Andrew Sexton came first again, beating his time at the inaugural Wharf2Wharf marathon last year by just 45 seconds. He completed the 42-kilometre course in three hours 12 minutes and 13 seconds. Jana Marusakova was the first female, completing in just four hours.
The hot sunshine proved as much of a challenge as the course, which included the equivalent of a one kilometre vertical climb, and Andrew said he pushed himself hard.
Crossing the finish line, the 46-year-old said he was grateful for the St John ambulance crew who gave him oxygen and helped him deal with severe leg cramp.
“The last 10 kilometres were really hard and for the last five minutes I was probably a bit delirious,” he told Gulf News.
Andrew’s success comes after winning in his age group at the NZ Track and Field Championships in Christchurch the previous week.
Waiheke’s other winner, Jana, says winning is “like a dream come true” for her.
“The Wharf2Wharf is really hotly contested, a lot of people come over from the city to compete, so I feel really good about it,” she said.
This was Jana’s first Wharf2Wharf marathon and, while definitely a challenge, she says it was good fun.
“I started running at the age of 40 – I found my calling. I enjoy running by myself, it clears the mind, but I also enjoy running with other people. I love my training partners Waiheke Trail Tribe.”
Jana’s was a last-minute entry into the marathon, but she said she is glad she did.
“I loved every minute of it. I loved saying hello to everyone on the route, all the locals were waving. It’s a great event and it’s getting better every year, it’s very local and I like that.”
Many runners and walkers took a refreshing dip in the ocean after crossing the Matiatia finish line, with around 600 people gathering there for food and drink stalls, DJs, circus performers and a prize-giving ceremony.
Esme Pfaff of Waiheke Sea Scouts was one of the organisers and says the day was a real success.
“It was a truly wonderful day, so cool to see this beautiful venue, The Harbourmasters, being used for this event, it was a taste of things to come. The scout helpers were fantastic and there was a really lovely vibe going on here.”
Rotary Waiheke was a fellow organiser and president Marcus McKenzie says it was a good year for the island, with $3500 of race and spot prizes handed out.
“This year we had the weather on our side with Waiheke putting on a stunningly beautiful day helping to put a smile on everyone’s faces,” he said
“The event relies on the services of several hundred volunteers being positioned around the island on the day, where approximately $4000 of funds raised goes directly to the community clubs and groups the volunteers represent. • Liza Hamilton
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