Rowan Hooper turns 32 tomorrow and to be kind to himself he bypassed defending his marathon title and has focused on running a fast half marathon.

But his build up has been far from ideal as in September he suffered a blood clot when flying to Britain to compete in the Bristol half marathon.

He was forced to withdraw with injury and has been trying to catch up on lost time since.

"Two months ago I felt invincible and then came the clot," said Hooper who couldn't train for a month.

"It just comes down to how much form I've lost in that time.

"One part of me thinks that the break has probably done me good and come race day I'll be flying.

"The other part of me is not quite so confident.

"On race day I will be going for the win so will be interesting to see whether the optimistic or pessimistic side of me is right."

The Cantabrian Hooper lived up to his favourite billing last year when he claimed his first win in the adidas Auckland Marathon with a time of 2:31:44 seeing off Glynn Hadley who ran 2:34:58.

Despite his poor preparation Hooper is looking to push the pace tomorrow in the half marathon and is expected to among the leaders coming into Victoria Park.

"In the longer races you always feel like you are in a battle with the course and in the last two half marathons the course won.

"So in a way this race is revenge for the last two, it is time to run a good one."

One of his rivals, Matt Smith, knows what it feels like to run a good one.

Smith, who was the marathon champion in 2007, won the 2009 half marathon with a time of 1:06:18, holding off Dale Warrander who ran 01:06:29.

"My training has gone well so I hope I can test myself in a hard race but ultimately match the position I got last year," said Smith.

Smith is determined to perform well in the Auckland event as a payback to adidas who have sponsored him for the past seven years.

He will take confidence into tomorrow's half marathon knowing that he has a 100 per cent success rate at the Auckland event.

The Auckland marathon was the first Smith had won and when he was the first man home in the half marathon last year it was also his first New Zealand title.

"I have competed two times and won both in Auckland, but certainly neither race was easy," said Smith.

"First Ben Ruthe in the marathon (2007) and then Dale Warrander in the half (2009) gave me very challenging opposition."

The women's field is going to be equally hotly contested with 19-year-old Danielle Trevis in fine formagainst the likes of Nikki Hamblin and Sarah Biss.
Trevis recently won the Sir Barry Curtis 10km event in Auckland in a personal best time of 32:40 and has her sights set on a blistering pace tomorrow.