Sanson eyes PB at home

GEORGE HEAGNEY
Last updated 12:00 09/08/2012

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Chris Sanson may not be a perfectionist but he still wants to cut his time at the New Zealand half marathon championships in Palmerston North on Sunday.

The Manawatu ironman triathlete has been focusing on improving his running, which will hopefully help him defend his title from last year.

"I've spent most of this year working on my run . . . and it was the national championships as a target race to work towards," he said.

"I'm running the best I've been running, so it's pretty good."

In last year's event he ran 1hr 13min 22sec, but he shaved nearly four minutes off that time at the Wellington half marathon in June.

"The goal of the year was to run a 68 [minutes]; a 1:08 that will be what I'm going for on the weekend. If people run faster, I'll have to run faster."

Sanson said he expected Kenyan Kip Kemei, who beat him at the Wellington event, to be one of his main competitors on Sunday.

"I've been told there's a few guys around that 68 mark, 67 mark. Hopefully there'll be four or five of us up front, pushing the pace."

Kemei made easy work of winning the Huntly half marathon in 1hr 5min 28sec in May.

Sanson will also face stiff competition from a field that includes Auckland's Jono Jackson, who won the Tauranga half marathon and the Auckland Round the Bays; Hamilton up-and-comer Cory Whiting; and Wellington's Barry Garmonsway, who finished fourth in 2010 and came second in both 2008 and 2009.

In the women's field, Elizabeth Bunckenburg from Wellington, Gemma Cartwright and former national mountain running representative Samantha Blanch (both Manawatu) should be in with a chance.

A total of about 1200 people are expected to enter the Manawatu half marathon and the national event.

The Manawatu Striders have put a lot of effort into making the 30th anniversary a big event, and are expecting 700 entries for the half marathon, including 500 runners and 200 walkers, as well as 300 in the 10km run and 200 in the 5km.

The 21km course starts at Massey University, crosses Fitzherbert Bridge and runs around Hokowhitu Lagoon, along Te Awe Awe St and then back to the Bridle Track, down to the Awapuni Race Course, around the racecourse and back to Massey.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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