Athletics: Costley wins Rotorua Marathon

By Katie Holland

Phil Costley. Photo / Ross Setford.
Phil Costley. Photo / Ross Setford.

It was a day for 42-year-olds at the Rotorua marathon, with Phil Costley and Liza Hunter-Galvan taking out the men's and women's races.

Costley claimed his third Rotorua marathon title, 15 years after his first win at the race, recording a time of 2.28.25 to finish 15 seconds ahead of a spirited challenge from Blair McWhirter.

Costley broke away over the last two kilometres and, despite a slower than hoped for time, the Nelson runner was delighted with his win.

"I am rapt, given the way I felt out there,'' he said. "I didn't feel flash from the start but when you're running 42 kilometres you're thinking there will be a good patch there somewhere and I was waiting and waiting.''

Costley, victor in 1997 and 2000, ran off the early pace before challenging for the lead near the halfway mark.

Defending champion and favourite Dale Warrander was part of the lead pack for the first half of the race, but began to struggle. Going for his sixth Rotorua title, Warrander dropped behind and eventually pulled out injured.

That left the door open for Costley and McWhirter, who pulled away from the pack as they battled a head wind into the city.

"A couple of times I tried to break away from him but he's a tough nut and he stayed there,'' Costley said. "It was only with three kilometres to go, slowly and surely I started to edge away.''

Texas-based Kiwi Hunter-Galvan took out the women's title in far more decisive fashion, finishing in 2:46.20 _ nine minutes ahead of Wellington's Gabrielle O'Rourke.

The former Olympian returned to competitive running last year after a two-year-ban for using performance enhancing drugs. She let Auckland's Lisa Robertson lead for the first half of the race, but made a decisive break at the 25km mark and ran the last 17km on her own.

Hunter-Galvan was delighted with her first attempt at the Rotorua marathon, particularly as her parents were watching her run a marathon for the first time.

"It was on my bucket list to do,'' she said. "My dad ran it in 1984/85 and we were out there on the course cheering him on.''

She said she was happy with her time, especially as she was suffering from jet lag leading up to the race.

Hunter-Galvan said she may consider entering one of the "big'' marathons such as Boston or New York to go for a masters win, although admitted she would have to up her training regime.

O'Rourke came through strongly to finish second while Robertson, running her second marathon in two weeks, felt the effects of the effort and faded to third.

More than 4700 runners and walkers took part in the 48th running of the iconic event around Lake Rotorua.

- Rotorua Daily post

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