Contrasting wins for Mardon and Canning
Story by: GREG LAUTENSLAGER - Photo by: Evan Barnes / Shuttersport
The Nelson Shoe Clinic Half and Quarter Marathon and 5km Fun Run finished on the track. Appropriately, the half marathon almost finished with a track race.
"I wouldn't mind racing 100 metres," Simon Mardon said. "But not after 21k."
Mardon saw to that with a strong surge over the last kilometre that extricated him from his remaining two rivals and pulled him to victory in a personal best 1hr 11min 34sec.
Paula Canning, of Appleby, won her seventh consecutive Nelson Half. The Athletics Nelson runner drew away from training mate Klaartje Van Schie after 5km and soared to the finish in 1hr 24min 42sec.
Mardon, also of Athletics Nelson, won his second Nelson half but not without a tussle from Wellington's Grant McLean and Graeme Taylor, of Nelson.
The three runners broke away from the pack in the first 2km and then traded the lead for the next 18km. They passed through 5km in 16min 50sec, 10km in 33min 48sec, and 15km in 51min 5sec. Mardon was more worried about his competitors than his watch.
"I looked over at Graeme and he looked so fresh," Mardon said. "I thought it would come down to the last 500m."
Mardon said he felt comfortable with two kilometres to go and was running with a good rhythm. So he decided to go for it early. He led the two other runners under the Main Rd tunnel and then drove hard down Saxton Rd. He opened up a gap as he turned onto the road behind Saxton Stadium.
"I just had to trust my guts," Mardon said. "People told me I had 20 metres on them, but I knew it was more like 40."
Suddenly, the battle was for second.
"Simon put in a spurt and we just couldn't catch him," Taylor said.
The course change from the start/finish at the Monaco Domain to the Saxton Field Athletics Track agreed with Mardon.
"At Monaco, you come off the trail (along the motorway), look left, and see the finish line a half a kilometre in the distance," he said. "Here you rock up onto the track and there's a finish line at the end of the straight."
The top three finishers were on the home straight at the same time.
McLean finished second in 1hr 11min 47sec, and Taylor was third in 1hr 11min 51sec.
Canning wondered if her race might come down to a track sprint after observing Van Schie on their recent training runs.
"She's a very fast starter and can be hard to keep up with," Canning said.
The two runners ran in a group of men through the 5km, where Van Schie dropped off.
"I just kept going and she wasn't there anymore," Canning said. "I kept thinking she was going to catch up and go by me. She's a good runner and eventually she will."
Van Schie said she came out with the intention of staying with Canning the entire way, but it was "more of a dream than a reality".
"Her (personal best) is two minutes faster than mine, so it was not logical," said Van Schie, who held off Colette Read for second in 1hr 28min 31sec.
"After I dropped off from Paula and the little pack of guys, I was by myself the rest of the way."
The battle over, the two runners remained close. Canning tied the shoelace of the exhausted Van Schie after Van Schie took off her timing tag.
"She is more of a friend than a rival," Van Schie said.
Athletics Nelson teenagers Allister Meffan and Brittany Stewart dominated the quarter marathon. Meffan took out the men's 10.55km race in 38min 17sec and Stewart won the women's race in 44min 32sec. The 5km victories went to Todd Smith in the men's race in 24min 55sec and Breena Gibbins in the women's race in 25min 10sec.
Roger Denton held off Gary Holz to win the men's half marathon race walk in 2hr 9min 21sec.
Ros D'Agnilli dominated the women's race walk in 2hr 16min 38sec.
World masters walk champion Nyle Sunderland made the Nelson Quarter race walk her final race in New Zealand and went out in style with a winning effort of 1hr 1min 18sec.
Sunderland, who set a New Zealand 40-44 10,000m record at the Saxton Track in October, is moving to Australia later this month.
Ross Mitchell won the men's quarter marathon race walk in 1hr 1min 24sec. Wendy Healey was the first 5km race walker across the finish line in 27min 13sec. Jamie Shaw won the men's 5k race walk in 31min 53sec.
Race organisers said the change to the new venue at the track was well received by the 449 race participants, who were cheered on from the bleachers by spectators and previous finishers.
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