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Sam Wreford wins Huntly Half Marathon

Sam Wreford

Sam Wreford of Timaru travelled north for a training run and in the process ran out a clear winner of the annual Huntly half marathon yesterday.

The 31 year old led throughout and finished in a career best 1:06:41, nearly five minutes clear of Samuel Murphy of Townsville. He was 46 seconds faster than his second placing to Kenyan Kip Kemei at Huntly in 2012.

Wreford said that the conditions were ideal, cool with patches of fog.

“It was a good solid hit out before the marathon in Christchurch in two weeks. I wanted to see where my shape is and get a bit of an indication,” he said.

“I was injured after last year’s Auckland marathon (which he won in 2:18:57) so that took out about three months of training. I was going to the Boston marathon but that wasn’t to be. Training has since gone well and I ran just under 30 minutes for 10km last weekend in Timaru,” said Wreford.

He is not dismissing having a crack at the New Zealand cross country title which he won in Hamilton in 2012.

“I’d love to turn up and challenge that cross country especially being in Christchurch,” he added.

Murphy said that he was pleased with his time of 1:11:27 which he was using as a training run for the Cairns Ironman in three weeks.

“Coming from Townsville I felt the cold this morning and had to do a bit of a longer warm-up,” he said.

“I’ve got the Cairns Ironman and hopefully Kona after that now I know that my running is working,”

Sasha Daniels of Auckland was third in 1:14:51 Corey Hinde of Hamilton fourth in 1:16:55 and Auckland’s Gavin Stevens (58) fifth in 1:17:18.

New Zealand 10,000m track champion Lydia O’Donnell from North Harbour Bays won the women’s half marathon in a PB 1:17:05 by nearly seven minutes faster than Rotorua’s Sue Crowley. Kovo Kowalewski of Hamilton was third in 1:25:22.

It was the first time for O’Donnell in Huntly.

“I haven’t run a half in about three years and I went out a bit fast, so I pulled back and stuck behind the guys. I went through the 10km in 36:50 and I felt really good,” she said.

The 23 year old said that she was lucky to be running in a big race.

“I just pumped myself up the hills trying to stay with the guys. I’ve run at Kerikeri and the Auckland half and I did today’s race for a bit of mileage for the track season and more 10,000 metres,” she added.

O’Donnell’s previous best was 1:17:25 in winning the 2009 Kerikeri Half.

Crowley was in awe of O’Donnell’s performance.

“I couldn’t match that one at the front, she went so fast. I don’t know if it is inspiring or depressing – I’ll go with inspiring,” said Cowley who improved four minutes on her time last year.

Jonny McKee of Pakuranga won the 10km in 32:09, coming two weeks after winning the half marathon in Rotorua in 1:07:48.

“I was still feeling the effects of that today. It is a good start to the season so hopefully there is more to come. I’m getting the mileage up for once without getting injured which is nice,” said McKee.

“I’m having a good go at the Auckland and New Zealand cross country champs, there’s some good runners around so it will be pretty tough, I’m in the 35 age category now but I will do one more year as a senior and give it everything I can as my last time,” he added.

Ryan McAlister of Wellington was second in 32:38 and Steve Rees-Jones of Hamilton third in 32:40. Kirsten Milne of Hamilton won the women’s 10km in 39:39.


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