Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Marathon: Half champions return

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Defending champions Ben and Jesse Ruthe celebrate winning the men's and women's titles at last year's Tauranga Half Marathon.
Defending champions Ben and Jesse Ruthe celebrate winning the men's and women's titles at last year's Tauranga Half Marathon.

The Tauranga Half Marathon is all set to go on Sunday morning with up to 1000 participants expected.

The city's premier annual road running race is in its 11th year and race director Luke Garea puts its continuing popularity down to the increased focus on attracting runners and walkers from outside the Bay of Plenty region.

"We have specifically focused on the Waikato and Auckland regions, and focus very hard on providing a quality event - good course and great experience," he said.

"The event is becoming very well-known and we continue to get great feedback from participants."

The Tauranga Half Marathon has proudly raised more than $20,000 for the Tauranga Heart Foundation, the event's official charity.

Last year's husband and wife half marathon winners Ben and Jess Ruthe are back to retain their titles and they appear to have a good chance of doing so.

Ben's time of 1:10:12 was five seconds outside the course record last year with his wife Jesse Ruth finishing strongly to take the women's title in 1:17:54.

The men's elite half marathon field looks as strong as ever with well-known and nationally ranked locals Kyle and Iain MacDonald and Craig Kirkwood also lining up again.

The race starts and finishes at Fergusson Park in Matua with the course looping out to the Tauranga CBD including Brown St, Willow St and Harrington St, The Strand and parts of Devonport Rd. Road closures will be in place from 6.30am to 9.30am.

As well as the half marathon distance, there are also 14km, 7km and mile (1.7km) walk/run options for those seeking a slightly shorter challenge.

Entries for all distances remain open online up until 5pm tonight, or can be done at pre-event registration at the Bayfair Shopping Centre on Saturday from 10am-6pm.

With light winds and the forecast of occasional showers for Sunday, conditions look good for the 7am Half Marathon start.

The men's winner is expected to cross the line at Fergusson Park about 8.10am.

- www.taurangahalfmarathon.co.nz.

Tauranga Half Marathon:

* Sunday start times

* Half Marathon run and walk 7am

* Walkways 14km run and walk 8.15am

* Walkways 7km run and walk 9.30am

* Matua Mile at 10.30am.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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