At 63, there's no stopping her

JOHN ALEXANDER
Last updated 12:26 31/01/2013

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Margaret Hazelwood added another chapter to her amazing long-distance running career at the weekend.

The 63-year-old Marlborough Sounds resident completed the gruelling 50-kilometre St James Station run, an off-road event on the Rainbow Road out of Hanmer, winning her age group and finishing third women overall in a time of 8hr 05min.

As always, she enjoyed the challenge, the Hanmer course featuring rugged and varied terrain, including river crossings, and part of the course had no clear tracks.

"Awesome scenery but very hot conditions.

"We had to drink out of the creek, there were about a dozen water crossings," she said.

The total field comprised more than 40 runners and the 50km race was run in conjunction with a multisport triathlon. Richard Law won the 50km overall title, clocking 6.51.

Saturday's run was Hazelwood's 119th ultra-marathon event. She has also completed an amazing 85 marathons and 153 half marathons since she took up running in 1986, doing her first ultra-event just a year later.

Her running career just happened by chance, she recalled.

"I was milking cows at the time and running was something I could do between milking.

"I joined the Whangarei Harrier Club on the suggestion of a friend and a year after I had run two marathons and an ultra-marathon."

Hazelwood and her husband Jack moved to their home at Motapu Bay Road in the Kenepuru Sound 17 years ago and the Sounds provide an ideal training ground for the gritty athlete.

She has also represented New Zealand four times in the 100km world championships, has won numerous titles in her age group around New Zealand and currently holds 17 course records around the country in the over 50 years categories.

A member of the Marlborough Harrier Club, Hazelwood said the club had been a big help to her over the years supporting and helping her develop as a runner.

Her best marathon time was 3.04 and after a period of slower runs over four hours, she's now getting quicker again.

"I've started to do sub-four hour marathons again and I'm pretty rapt about that. I'm not doing the long 50km events so much now."

There's no time to rest on her laurels. The prize she won on Saturday was a free entry to the 50km Bedrock race at Oxford in North Canterbury next month.

"I did it last year so it looks as though I'm in for another one."

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- The Marlborough Express

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