Diminutive Whanganui distance runner Mignon Stevenson reserved her best form for the biggest event of her life - the 2017 45th Honolulu Marathon.

The 62-year-old, 48kg athlete finished an incredible 13th in her 60-64 year age group that featured 580 rivals and 1800th of the 33,000 runners that made up the entire field.

Billed as 26.2 miles in Paradise, the Honolulu Marathon is by far the most prestigious event of Stevenson's short three year running career.

The Whanganui High School teacher only began running three years ago after a brief spell of race walking with the Wanganui Harriers Club.


However, she has packed in an incredible amount of miles in that time.

"The Honolulu Marathon was my 11th this year and I've now completed 28 over the three years I've been running," Stevenson said.

"It was also my international debut, all the other races have been inside New Zealand. I've competed in the Auckland and Rotorua marathons and while they are big, they are nothing like Honolulu. There was something like 35,000 runners and the sheer logistics of getting safely off the starting line alone are huge.

"The form us into groups based on times we are expected to run. I was in the third wave (3-5 hours), but there was a fireworks display at the 5am start and once they went off everyone jumped as one. It took a little while to sort ourselves out and into a rhythm."

Stevenson needed to rise at 2am to allow time for breakfast to settle before the 5am start, but soon found her rhythm.

"There was a large contingent of Japanese runners and I found myself alongside one of their best at one stage and she had a film crew following her and interviewing her, so I was probably in a Japanese sports programme."

Stevenson said she felt reasonably comfortable throughout the race on a track that did not feature too many difficult hill sections and completed the race in 4hrs 18min. Her personal best for the marathon distance is 4.07 set in the Auckland Marathon.

"It was massive, the sheer number of people competing. At stages runners were spread four traffic lanes wide. It was moistly a flat track, although there were a few hilly bits, but my body is used to that. I was pretty pleased with myself to finish 13th off 580 in my division."


Not content to rest of her laurels, Stevenson is now in training for next year's schedule that will include the Ring of Fire Ultra Marathon (50km) around Mt Ruapehu in April, the Auckland and Feilding Marathons and the Rotorua event that will double as the New Zealand Marathon Championships.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale, technically blind Whanganui woman Sharon Marshall completed her first ever marathon in Honolulu when she crossed the line in 19,346th place 9hrs 10min 19sec after her race began.

Technically blind Whanganui woman Sharon Marshall was rapt to finish her marathon debut in Honolulu. Photo/Supplied
Technically blind Whanganui woman Sharon Marshall was rapt to finish her marathon debut in Honolulu. Photo/Supplied

After turning 50, Marshall decided to tick two large items off her bucket list - to visit Hawaii and run a marathon.

She signed up with Doug Healey and his New Zealand Influence Crew tour. Healey is a well-known fitness programme designer who also led a group to the Great Wall Marathon in June.

"I thoroughly enjoyed the entire trip, especially the team environment. It was my first ever marathon and I walked most of it. The only time I got any speed up was to pass some on the way. I managed to finish 1045th in my 50-54 age group and 19,346th overall," Marshall said.

"I'm already booked in the the New Zealand Influence Crew tour to the New York Marathon in 2019."