For 33 years hundreds of people have turned out to take on the annual Mount Runners and Walkers Half Marathon. The event regularly attracts more than 1400 participants and yesterday's edition was no different. While the half marathon run and walk is the feature event, people from all walks of life take on the 5km and 10km course options each year as well. An additional KidsK course option is held on the Mount Maunganui main beach for all the enthusiastic youngsters looking for a challenge. Sports reporter David Beck caught up with the half marathon winners.
Rotorua's Michael Voss has switched his focus to longer full marathon events in recent times but he blitzed the half marathon field in 1h 11m 26s to claim first and prove he is still lethal at shorter distances.
Dennis Finn was second in 1h 17m 38s and Jake Wilkinson was third in 1h 17m 58s.
Voss said he did not go into the race with too much focus on finishing first but he was pleased to get the win.
"I just sort of incorporated it as a Sunday long run in the training schedule. You never know what to expect but it was good to get the win.
I just got into comfortable rhythm and tried to hold even splits the whole way, which I think I managed.
"It wasn't the fastest I've run, running round the Mount slows you down a bit and coming up behind walkers and stuff bit I still enjoyed it. The course is real good because it's two sort of loops, out around the beach then the Mount then back out again. You get a lot of support when you come through after the first time which helps."
He said he was just focused on running consistently and was not aware of how far ahead he was during the race.
"I just started running and realised nobody was there so tried to time trial it. The coach said not to push it too hard, so I just got into comfortable rhythm and tried to hold even splits the whole way, which I think I managed.
"I wasn't too sure where he was until I finished but he was five or six minutes behind so I could've gone a bit slower.
"I'm just trying to build my mileage back up after the [Rotorua] Marathon. I feel I've recovered well, no injuries or niggles so I'm just trying to build a good base. I'd like to do the Auckland Marathon in October, that would be the second full marathon I've done so I want to train well for that."
Tauranga finding form at the right time
Weekend of judo develops young talent
NZ's best to take on Rotorua Multisport
Meanwhile, Tauranga's Eden Craig picked up a win on home soil, finishing in 1h 28m 31s. Jess Walley was second in 1h 29m 45s and Katrina Shores third in 1h 33m 14s.
Craig said she signed up to do the run for fun, so to win was a bonus.
"It was cool, I didn't think I was going to get the win so that was awesome. I have been faster previously but not by too much.
"It was really nice actually, other than going around the Mount at the end it was pretty cruisy. Especially a day like today, it was a bit windy but it was fine."
She said it was extra special winning at home.
"I suppose it's better because it's local so you know more people doing it, there's more celebrations."
Like Voss, she is also training for longer distances.
"I'm trying to do a sub-three hour marathon so I'm just training for that at that moment. I'll probably do the Auckland Marathon but I'm also doing the one here in Tauranga in September as well, so I'll see how we go.
"I just love running. I can zone out for hours and listen to my music. A lot of people hate running because they can't zone out but I find that easy, it's like a break from your day."
Mount Runners and Walkers Half Marathon Results
1st Michael Voss (1h 11m 26s), 2nd Dennis Finn (1h 17m 38s), 3rd Jake Wilkinson (1h 17m 58s).
1st Eden Craig (1h 28m 31s), Jess Walley (1h 29m 45s) 3rd Katrina Shores (1h 33m 14s).