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Sam Wreford targets next title after hat-trick

GEOFF LONGLEY
Last updated 05:00 08/05/2013
Sam Wreford
PETER GRANEY
TITLE TIME: Canterbury runner Sam Wreford breaks the tape in winning the Rotorua Marathon. He is the favourite for the Christchurch Marathon on June 2.

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Fleet-footed Canterbury marathon runner Sam Wreford says he has plenty of leg speed left to back up for the Christchurch Marathon after last weekend's Rotorua victory.

Wreford, 30, will start the warmest of favourites as he seeks consecutive Christchurch Marathon victories on June 2.

The wiry Timaru athlete is feeling fresh after his Rotorua triumph on Saturday when he blitzed the field by 12 minutes and recorded the fastest time, 2hr 22min 23sec, on the demanding circuit in 12 years.

"I was very pleased with the performance as I was not running flat out there. I was able to go at about 90 per cent so with something left I think I should be able to back-up."

An injury-disrupted buildup before Rotorua saw Wreford running conservatively and he covered the first half of the race in 1hr 14min before upping the pace.

"There was a fairly solid headwind and that turned into a crosswind then a tailwind as we completed a circle for the course."

Wreford said he was looking forward to defending his Christchurch crown on the flat Harewood course around the International Airport but was not getting into any pre-race speculation about what time he is wanting.

"So much depends on the day, whether it's warm or cold or whether there is wind so I just take conditions as they are on the day and plan accordingly."

Wreford has his sights set on chasing a New Zealand Commonwealth Games team place for Glasgow next year and expects the qualifying time to be around the 2hr 13min, 2hr 14min mark.

He believes he is in the right shape to qualify in coming months but is looking overseas, possibly at the Gold Coast or Fukuoka marathons, as the ideal events.

Wreford is certainly in a winning cycle, having been successful in his past three marathons, winning Rotorua, Southland (2:16.35) and Christchurch (2:17.30) in sharp times while has finished no further back than second in eight attempts at the distance.

The appliance technician, who works part-time to enable him to put in the long distance mileage required for marathons, is coached by 1960 Olympic marathon bronze medallist Barry Magee, of Auckland.

The duo have struck up a strong bond and Wreford religiously follows Magee's weekly schedules.

"It's a fairly light week this week, concentrating on recovery," he said.

While marathon running is Wreford's passion he uses cross-country races to help build strength and endurance and is no slouch over the shorter distance, having won the national championship title in Hamilton last year.

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Having just turned 30 he believes he is just entering his marathon running prime and hopes to have six-seven years at least ahead of him.

Wreford believes his most likely challenger in Christchurch could be another Timaru athlete Jessie Gibbs, who is based in Dunedin, while he said it would not surprise to see former Cantabrian Phil Costley join the field.

Costley was going to run Rotorua but canned that after his Nelson home was flooded last month and he settled for running and winning the Nelson half marathon last weekend.

- The Press

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