Unfinished business for marathon front-runner

By Peter Thornton

Sam Wreford has won three titles. Photo / APN
Sam Wreford has won three titles. Photo / APN

Timaru runner Sam Wreford has every reason to feel this is his year to claim the adidas Auckland Marathon title.

The 30-year-old appliance technician has been in his best form and in the past 18 months has claimed the marathon titles at Christchurch, Rotorua, and Invercargill.

He has unfinished business at the biggest marathon in the country. Three years ago, when he ran the Auckland Marathon for the first and only time, he finished runner-up to Dale Warrander by only 35 seconds.

Warrander, who has been the champion four times and last claimed the title in 2011, is a late withdrawal for tomorrow's race with a leg injury, which only promotes Wreford's chances.

Wreford, who runs anywhere between 160km and 200km every week, feels he is well prepared to contend for his fourth marathon title in a short period.

"I am happy with where I am at heading into the Auckland Marathon and my training indicates my shape is good," he said confidently.

"It would be great to win this event as I came second to Dale Warrander in 2010 so it would be good to go one better. But looking at the field lining up it could be one of four or five runners who wins."

Wreford's form in 2012-2013 has turned some heads but he dismissed any idea of being the one to beat.

"I am confident in my preparation and just love getting out and racing.

"You don't really know what form everyone is in but the likes of Gelata Wondwosen, Vlad Shatrov, [and defending champion] Rowan Walker will be hard to beat and you are always silly to ignore Phil Costley.

"They are all going to be in the hunt but then there is still another good group with the likes of Tony Payne and Stephen Lett who will be in the mix. To simplify the question, everyone has a chance."

Wreford was the hot favourite to defend his title in Christchurch in June but had to withdraw mid-race.

He was the early leader but was suffering from a stomach bug and had been vomiting only 48 hours before the start line. He eventually withdrew just before the 30km mark.

He hopes for a good battle on the new Auckland course - which should see faster times.

"I can't remember the first half of the old course very well to know how much difference there is. It will not change a lot in terms of race plans as always with the marathon, the race starts at 30km to 32km."

This will be Wreford's last big race for 2013. After a break he will decide whether he will compete in the New Zealand 10,000m Championship in early 2014 and then build up for the Boston Marathon in April.

But before all that he wants to confirm his status as one of the country's most promising marathon runners by claiming the Auckland Marathon title for the first time.

What makes the Auckland Marathon a special race?

I think big city marathons always have a great atmosphere and it is the only time you get to run over the Auckland Harbour Bridge so that makes this run pretty special.

What advice do you have for newcomers to this event?

Make sure you get your pace judgment correct as it is a much better feeling if you can run the second half of the race faster and almost always leads to running a faster time.

The finish line is a special place for all runners but even more so for weekend warriors - do they inspire you with their efforts?

Yes, I think that is the great thing about running is that no matter what your ability everyone can have their own personal goal and if you achieve that you can have as much satisfaction as anyone else.

- NZ Herald

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