Alex Williams eyes marathon world champs

GEOFF LONGLEY
Last updated 05:00 31/10/2012

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Auckland marathon winner Alex Williams, of Christchurch, will make a run for world championship selection next year.

On the back of her record-breaking win at the Auckland marathon on Sunday, Williams is now eyeing a qualifying time for the world event in Moscow next August.

The 31-year-old clocked 2hr 41min 28 sec, a personal best, by nearly four minutes and clipped 28 sec off the race record.

"Having done that time I will look at things more seriously and try to do a qualifying time early next year, maybe in Japan."

Williams said the qualifying standard had previously been 2hr 41min which she was only 28 sec off bettering.

"Getting that close, it's worth giving it a go from here. I would hate to look back and think, ‘what if?'. This way there will be no regrets."

Williams said her win came as a "massive surprise". She had made a pre-race prediction time of 2hr 43min. Her previous best was 2hr 45min when she finished ninth in the Gold Coast marathon this year.

"There were about five of us that had done similar times on varying different courses."

The biggest name in the women's field was former New Zealand Olympic athlete Liza Hunter-Galvan but she withdrew during the event.

Williams said she raced conservatively in the early stages, being careful not to allow herself to get caught up in the hype with thousands of competitors taking part.

"I just tried to pace myself and gradually began to pick off a few people ahead of me."

Williams reeled in Australian Anita Keem, who was the Oceania champion at the Gold Coast race, and then early leader Sally Gibbs (Katikati) before moving away around the 28km mark to comfortably win by almost five minutes.

Williams said the course was quite an undulating one, including going over the Harbour Bridge and could not be termed fast.

It was just her fourth marathon in two years, having competed at Gold Coast and Southland in 2010. She ran the Christchurch half marathon this year as a build-up.

Williams said she seemed to be more a stayer than a sprinter and does not race on the track although she does compete in harrier and cross-country events for the University of Canterbury club during winter.

She has been largely self-coached, following the methods of Arthur Lydiard, and was running about 160km a week in training when preparing for Auckland.

That may change with Craig Motley, an athletics coach, returning from Australia to South Canterbury in December for work and Williams may link with him.

"It would be good to have someone keeping an eye on me from now," she said.

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