Marathon running marvel Gibbs still nifty at 51

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 23/06/2014
Sally Gibbs
KENT BLENCHYNDEN/ Fairfax NZ
STILL GOT IT: Sally Gibbs wins the national half-marathon title in Wellington yesterday.

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Like a good bottle of wine, Sally Gibbs is getting better with age.

The 51-year-old from Katikati claimed her third national title yesterday, the half-marathon victory in Wellington coming on top of last month's Rotorua Marathon and the 10,000m in 2012.

''I'm happy enough today,'' said a matter-of-fact Gibbs after crossing the line in 1h 18m 50s, ahead of Wellington duo Katie Kemp and Gabrielle O'Rourke.

''I am 51 and proud of it. Endurance suits the older athletes. I don't have a secret, hard work like everybody else. There are plenty of days you don't feel like going out.''

O'Rourke - still going strong herself at 47 - was part admiration, part disbelief as she offered Gibbs her congratulations.

''She did a mid-winter swim yesterday as well,'' O'Rourke exclaimed. ''She's a crazy woman.''

Gibbs separated from her rivals at the 11km mark and ran the rest of the race on her own.

''Which is always harder. I'm glad we had the headwind on the way out. I don't look back really. It was pretty slow but it was about the title today, not about the time. I haven't trained specifically for this.''

The Tauranga Ramblers athlete said her next goal was selection in the New Zealand team for the world mountain running championships in Italy in September.

''And the masters world mountain running champs is a week before that so aiming for that as well.''

Maree Rajpal won the women's marathon in 3h 20m 22s, with Aubrey Begley second and Annett Endres third.

Nicole Mitchell claimed the women's 10km title in 38m 28s, ahead of Elaine Brent and Kelsey Forman.

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