Kerikeri Half Marathon

By Peter Thorley

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Whangarei's Harry Linford heads out the field from the start line. Photos / Ron Burgin.
Whangarei's Harry Linford heads out the field from the start line. Photos / Ron Burgin.

Whangarei's Harry Linford shaved almost three-and-a-half minutes off his personal best in this year's Fullers GreatSights Kerikeri Half Marathon but still fell seven seconds short of victory.

The Pompellier College 18-year-old was overhauled and finally passed by 41-year-old Auckland lawyer Sasha Daniels, who Saturday's event in one hour 14 minutes, 18 seconds.

The pair fought for the lead over the closing stages of the race.

"I was leading for most of the race and he kept coming up on my shoulder before dropping off and finally when I was absolutely stuffed with about 3km to go he caught me again and it was a full on sprint to the end," Linford said.

Daniels' strength saw him open up a gap just before the pair reached the Kerikeri Domain and he held on for the narrow win. It was a good reward for his decision to run the Kerikeri event for the first time just two weeks after completing the Auckland Marathon.

"Harry did very well, every time I caught him he pulled away from me and when I tried to pull away he stuck to me like glue, so he's obviously got talent and plenty of determination," Daniels said. Third place went to another Aucklander Brad Luiten in 1.16:04.

Linford will now switch his attention to school exams starting next week before continuing his build up, with coach Lindsay McKendrick, toward the national secondary school athletic championships in Hamilton in December.

Although he holds Northland titles in the 1500m and 3000m track events his recent progress in longer distances will see him line up in the road race. Linford's fourth place in the national U20 road race in September and Saturday's second will see him a good chance of a podium spot.

The women's race was won by Aucklander Rebecca Forlong in 1.21:33. The former track star has recently made the transition to longer events, in particular half ironmans, and ran a good race.

Former Commonwealth Games silver medallist triathlete Sam Bradley pushed Forlong hard but finally finished two minutes behind her in second place. Katrin Gottshalk finished third in 1:24.59.

The competition walk was won by Whangarei's Alan Connelly, whose time of 2.13:14 was eight seconds ahead of second placed John Wesseling of Auckland. Gary Carmichel was third in 2.25:37.

The women's competitive walk was won by Whangarei's Caroline Henwood in 2.26:03. She was two minutes ahead of Aucklanders Helen Meyer and Glenda Robertson in second and third place. The Corporate Challenge was won by long time supporters of the event Kerikeri's New World Flyers.

Kerikeri entrants did well in the spot prizes with the $1000 Asics spot prize won by Natalie Todd, while Amy Douglas won a trip to Fiji. Aucklander Tracy McKay was delighted to win the donated Avanti Plus bike before realising she had to try and get it home in a crowded small vehicle. Sport Northland event coordinator Hayley Overton said the event was enjoyed by 2475 entrants this season "The day went very well although the heat made it tough for some of the slower runners," she said.

Photos page 11

- Northern Advocate

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