Athletics: Horse industry gives human racer leg up

By Mike Dillon

Lisa Robertson says she was unsure of making the Olympic qualifying time in Nagano after the Auckland Marathon - but that's changing. Photo / Natalie Slade
Lisa Robertson says she was unsure of making the Olympic qualifying time in Nagano after the Auckland Marathon - but that's changing. Photo / Natalie Slade

Getting a photograph of Lisa Robertson is not easy.

She's riding racehorses for a good part of the morning, then running her heart out for two hours before swimming endless lengths.

No, it's not a new-fangled sports discipline, it's training, hopefully, for the women's marathon at the London Olympics.

Lisa Robertson has always been different.

She started as an apprentice jockey, gave that away to become a frontline police officer, took two years' leave of absence from the police to go back and race ride once again, all the while competing as a topline extreme distance athlete.

A month or so ago she won the Auckland Marathon but was 10 minutes shy of the Olympic qualifying time, so she is making a last-ditch effort to crack the time at the Nagano Marathon in Japan on April 15 and the racing industry is helping her to get there.

On Wednesday at Ellerslie's $500,000 Stella Artois Auckland Cup day, a sweep will operate where patrons can guess, within 10-second blocks, the time Lisa will post in Japan.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing apprentice mentor Tommy Hazlett has arranged for the winner of the sweep to receive airfares and accommodation to the New Zealand Cup in Christchurch in November.

The Auckland Racing Club gave Lisa tickets to sell to Saturday's Derby meeting at Ellerslie.

"Lisa has been able to sell between 100 and 150 tickets to Derby Day and add that money to her funding," said Auckland Racing Club racing manager Andrew Castles.

"She's a good kid and as a racing club we're delighted to be able to assist her in realising her dream."

Lisa says that after the Auckland Marathon she wasn't confident of sufficiently pruning her time in Japan, but is starting to change her mind.

"I'm feeling stronger and very positive.

"Let's say I'm quietly confident."

If she gets to the Olympics and does well, Auckland's diabolical traffic can take a strange bow.

She says that when she was at teachers' training college she arrived each morning at 6 o'clock to dodge the traffic and the only thing that was open was the gym.

"So I'd train and it all started from there."

- NZ Herald

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