Rotorua's roads will take a pounding on Saturday with more than 4500 competitors expected to take part in the Rotorua Marathon.
The 48th staging of the event is shaping up to be one of the best yet with one of the strongest fields assembled at any New Zealand marathon.
Last year's men's winner Dale Warrander is looking for his sixth win, however, he faces strong competition from a number of competitors including Phil Costley from Nelson, who has won two Rotorua Marathons and has held more than 30 national athletics titles.
Angus Bell a former New Zealand mountain running representative who has switched to road events will take on his first marathon, while Japanese runner Yosuke Tokitani, who won the Lake Kawaguchi Marathon in November last year, has also confirmed his entry.
A new champion will be crowned in the women's division after Rotorua athlete Johanna Ottosson pulled out of this year's race due to injury. Former Olympian Liza Hunter-Galvan, who is currently based in Texas, is the favourite but she is expected to be have strong competition from Auckland marathon winner Lisa Robertson.
Robertson confirmed her entry this week and recently returned from Japan after competing in the Ngano Marathon, where she was unsuccessful in her attempt to qualify for the London Olympics. The 28-year-old who is also an apprentice jockey has impressed after winning the New Zealand national road championships and Auckland Marathon last year, the latter in a race record of 2hrs 41min.
With Robertson's goal time of 2hrs 40min for Rotorua - there should be a great battle over the 42.2km lake run between her and Hunter-Galvan.
The marathon isn't the only race creating interest, with the half marathon boasting a strong field which includes Kenyan Kip Kemei. Kemei who has a best of 64 minutes over 21.1km will face a strong New Zealand challenge from national road, 10,000m and half marathon Champion Stephen Lett, 2007 Rotorua Marathon winner Craig Kirkwood, top New Zealand triathlete Martin van Barneveld and Tauranga twins Kyle and Iain MacDonald.
By Greg Taipari of the Daily Post
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