Five times champ Warrander on road to own legacy

Former Tauranga athlete Dale Warrander already has the record, so Saturday's Rotorua Marathon is all about continuing his own legacy in the iconic race.

After an emotional record-breaking fifth win at the Rotorua Marathon last year to usurp Jack Foster, his running hero, Gold Coast-based Warrander will line up as favourite again on saturday.

The 38-year-old passed Scott Winton during the final stages of last year's 42.2km run to claim the record from Foster, who won four titles in the 1970s, to become the most successful runner in the past 47 years of the event.

Soon after, he dedicated his win to the man he took the record from. "I regard the late legendary Jack Foster as a role model," said Warrander.

"He was a tough runner and to overtake him is pretty special."

The five-time champion, and former Olympian, is widely regarded as favourite because of his record and experience on the tough marathon course.

He is also looking for his third victory in a row.

"I'm pretty proud of my achievements at Rotorua Marathon. The last two wins have been hard with injury interruptions affecting my build-up to race. But I've managed to take the wins."

He knows building on his legacy in the latter years of his career is important as he might not have too many more chances. "I'm not getting any younger these days and I'm making the most of things while I can. I'll definitely be gunning for a sixth win this year. But it's not too far away before I hang up the competitive shoes."

Warrander has a great record in the race and it's one his rivals know all too well.

"Dale who?" main contender Phil Costley joked about the favourite.

"Yeah Dale is a tough nut to crack. We have been having battles for the last 20 years, but on few occasions have we run shoulder to shoulder to the end. We have both tended to be in different training phases when we race, so while one guy is peaking for one event, the other guy is focused on something a little further down the track ... I don't know what Dale's long-term plans are ... but mine don't go past Rotorua."

The respect is mutual. "Phil Costley is always a tough customer and I don't expect anything different from him," said Warrander.

Costley comes into the event with great form after wins at the Buller and Kaiteriteri Gold Half Marathons.

There will also be an international presence on the start line with Japanese competitor Yusuke Tokitani making the trip. Tokitani won at Rotorua's sister event the Lake Kawaguchi marathon last November and his time, 2hr 22mins, means be should be a threat.

The half marathon will enter its second year with one of the strongest fields assembled in New Zealand for many years, with the field including past marathon champions and exciting talent Kip Kemei from Kenya.

A talented New Zealand field will provide great competition. The line-up includes current NZ 10,000m and 2011 NZ half marathon champion Stephen Lett from Takapuna, Tauranga-based 2007 Rotorua Marathon champion and former Commonwealth Games rep Craig Kirkwood, Tauranga twins Kyle and Iain McDonald and well-performed triathlete Martin van Barneveld.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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