Cambridge runners on top

Alice Mason crosses the finish line. Photo – Rotorua Marathon.

New Zealand marathon titles were up for grabs at the Rotorua Marathon last weekend, which doubled as the national championships. So, when Cambridge local Alice Mason won the women’s open, it meant that she retained her national title for a second year, having won it at the Wellington Marathon last year.

Alice finished over six minutes ahead of her nearest competitor, Olivia Burne of Auckland, who stuck with her for the first 20km before Alice managed to get ahead.

“She ran really well, it was her first marathon, and it was a tough course to do,” a humble Alice said.

Meanwhile, another Cambridge competitor was hot on her heels, Hugh Allison, who won his age group, the 45 – 49 men’s division, and finished 12th in the men’s open.

“That’s just a bonus really,” Hugh said. “The challenge was to run as well as I could.”

Alice Mason, coach Keegan Williams, and Hugh Allison were all smiles after finishing the Rotorua Marathon. Photo – Nikki Hamblin.

Hugh and Alice often train together in and around Cambridge and are both part of the Cambridge Harriers Club. “To win the age group this year is awesome, because Hugh was racing against people who were five years younger,” Alice said.

Hugh admitted he was running a little faster than he “probably should have been” during the event and started to feel the burn in the last phase of the 42-kilometre course. “I felt really good pretty much all the run, apart from that last part!” Hugh said. “But once you’re only two Ks from home you can get there.”

“It’s never comfortable the last 2km of a marathon,” Alice added.

The pair were greeted by a band of passionate Cambridge supporters as they reached the finish line. “It’s cool to have people that are so excited for you,” said Alice. “I think for me that was the take home thing.”

“Their energy is infectious when we’re out there,” Hugh added.

Alice Mason and Hugh Allison were relieved to have finished the 42-kilometre race. Photo – Nikki Hamblin.

The pair plan on competing at the 2018 New Zealand Road Race Championships at St Peter’s School in September, and Alice hopes to compete in the Gold Coast Marathon in July. If all goes to plan they intend to compete for New Zealand titles again at next year’s national marathon.

They gave a big thanks to all of their supporters on the day: Alice’s coach Keegan Williams, and the trusty cheer crew of Janette Douglas, Nikki Hamblin, Char Pearson and Olivia Ritchie.

Another local runner who featured in Cambridge New ahead of the event, Samantha Hall, completed the Rotorua Marathon as a charity fundraiser and finished the event in four hours and 24 minutes, saying she “loved it”. “I definitely plan to do another marathon later on in the year,” she said.

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