Voss reigns in 60th Rotorua Marathon

Local runner Michael Voss has won his fourth Rotorua marathon, while Debbie Donald took out the women’s race.

Michael Voss and Cullern Thorby served up a classic head-to-head showdown at the 60th anniversary edition of the Red Stag Rotorua Marathon on Saturday.

However, Voss put on the after-burners in the final few kilometres to overhaul the 21-year-old Thorby and claim a fourth Rotorua Marathon victory in 2:23:48.

Voss, who claimed a sixth successive Rotorua Marathon podium and added to his victories in 2020, 2021 and 2022, said: “This Rotorua Marathon victory is the one I enjoyed the most. I love having a battle, Cullern was so strong.”

“I tried to take Cullern at 30km and I opened up a lead. Then he came back, and we kept taking turns at the front. He then got a little bit of a gap, and I thought he had me. I almost settled for second, but my workmates kept me going and then I gave it everything at the end.”

Debbie Donald of Athletics Masterton claimed an emphatic victory in the women’s marathon to retain her national title in a time of 2:46:30.

The 37-year-old mum-of-three forged ahead of Lydia O’Donnell before 10km and marched on to top spot just seven weeks after recording a lifetime best of 2:40:39 in the Nagoya Marathon in Japan.

“I only [made] a last-minute decision to come here,” said Donald.

“After Nagoya I competed over the half marathon in Christchurch, where I finished fourth, and although the time was good my legs felt a bit off.

“I hadn’t done any long runs leading into today and my legs felt a bit zapped by 32km. But I knew the championship was on the line, and I’m pinching myself now.”

After taking the lead she told herself not to look back and was rewarded with the race win.

“I knew Lydia was a gun runner and she has fast legs too. I just had to keep going. It was so beautiful running around Lake Rotorua.

“To win the New Zealand title again is so surreal. I hope to come back next year and win a third New Zealand title.”

On a sun-bathed day in Rotorua, the event attracted more than 5100 runners, among them 100-year-old Colin Thorne, who completed the 5.5km in 1:11:24 alongside his daughter Pauline Dinsdale.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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