Half marathon: Williams thrives on 'ideal' day

By Shane Hurndell

Even on his days off Luke Williams talks banking jargon.

"A bit of a bonus," Taradale's Williams, a regional manager for the Bank of New Zealand, remarked after winning the annual Specsavers Hastings Half Marathon yesterday.

It was his first win in at least eight attempts and the 21.1km run on the outskirts of Havelock North was completed in his best time for the distance - 1hr19m 32s.

"I've always wanted to break 1hr20m but I've never done it. When I woke up and saw the ideal conditions I thought this might be the day," Williams explained.

A triathlete with the Hawke's Bay Multisport Club, Williams, 47, described himself as "a little bit of a recreational runner".

His favourite winter hobby of snow skiing gives him plenty of strength for running. Williams intends to have a crack at retaining his title next year and his next outing will be the Country2Coast event on April 28.

Napier's Mace Clark was second in 1hr22m12s and Phil McKay of Hastings third, six seconds behind Clark.

Another Taradale Williams but no relation of Luke's, Anna Williams, won the women's title in a time of 1hr34m33s. It was her first attempt at the Hastings event after at least six previous half marathons and it was her second-best time.

"This is an early birthday present for me," Williams, who turns 24 tomorrow, said.

"But my real one will be attending the Black Sabbath concert in Auckland next weekend."

A trainee secondary school teacher, Williamsgot into running by accompanying her former Taradale High School teachers Bevan King and Hamish Crafar on runs. She is also full of praise for the input of her personal trainer Ivar Hopman.

"Ivar has been great. But I did break my nose a couple of weeks ago when he had me doing box jumping," she added.

Williams enjoys off road running and will tackle the Hawke's Bay Trail Run Series which involves four races over four months. Celia van Kampen of Hastings was second to Williams in 1hr41m13s and Michelle Dew of Hastings was third in 1hr44m6s.

Hawke's Bay Hospital orthopaedic nurse Debbie Shaw, who may have another two-and-a-half months to live after being diagnosed with a cholangiocarcinoma of the posterior gallbladder, completed the 21.1km walk section of the event in 3hr06m57s to finish 24th in a field of 43 women.

"We ditched the wheelchair along the way because it was slowing me down. I had it just in case I needed it but I didn't and had I not started out with it I could have been 20 minutes faster," Shaw said.

"At one stage I stopped for photos with some of my friends who also did it so that was more time I could have made up."

Her brother, Richard Parnell, of Upper Hutt, who has had a hip replacement and suffers from arthritis, finished 20th in the men's walk in 3hr29.33s. "There was a bit of brother-sister rivalry until I left him behind," Shaw joked.

Depending on how she copes with a two-week stint of chemotherapy starting on Thursday Shaw may also tackle the Country2Coast event.

Yesterday's event also included a 10km run and walk and a 5km section. It attracted a record 620 entrants.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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