In September this year Sam Wreford broke Paul Alison’s 1993 record in the Dunedin marathon with 2hr 19min 17sec. More recently he came second to Dale Warrander at the Auckland Marathon clocking another sub 2hr 20min time.
Sam Wreford at the 2009 Athletics NZ Road Champs in Dunedin. Photo: Gary Nesbit
The Appliance Technician from Timaru is relatively pleased with his progress over the marathon distance this year. But it’s been an up and down year. At the moment he’s only just got back into training. Apart from breaking the 2hr 20 min mark twice this year, he’s in the process of changing his running style and recently had to stop briefly due to a blood clot in his ear. In this interview I spoke to him about his roller coaster year…
Tell me about the marathon in Dunedin where you broke the course record?
Dunedin was a bit of a surprise. I took about five minutes off the record there. I was definitely fitter for this marathon.
At Dunedin there wasn’t too much to what actually happened. I had planned to use it as a tempo/time trial, so the idea was to cruise through that first half, running relaxed but with a good clip, and then start pushing it in the second half. I came home with the last half in about 1hr 8 min, which I was happy with because that half was tougher.
Tell me about the race at Auckland?
At Auckland I had a bit of a niggle, which kept me out of the NZ Road Relay, I had only been back training about two weeks, so I decided to do the Auckland Marathon to see how I would go. I knew that I’d have the strength, but maybe not the finish to match Dale Warrander,
I know that Dale wanted to have a crack at his record if the conditions were good. I wasn’t sure to go with him or not, but I ended up going with him. The pace was reasonably steady over the first section. At about the halfway point, Dale had problems with his drinks. I started putting a lot of pressure on then, and put a couple of meters on him, but I could never really break him. By the turn-around point I had 15 metres on him, but I didn’t have the confidence to put the nail in the coffin.
How do the Dunedin and Auckland times compare with your other marathons?
These two are my fastest times. Dunedin was the first time I went under 2.20, and I did it again at Auckland. I did the Legend Marathon in 2.23, (quite an impressive time considering the terrain). My first marathon was the 2008 Dunedin Marathon, when I came second to Rowan Hooper in 2.27, next was Buller (Buller Gorge Marathon in February) where I came second to Phil Costley in 2.23. Then the Legend Marathon was next. (This marathon is run around Arthur Lydiard's famous training circuit for his champions in the Waitakere Ranges. This course is described as the toughest in the country, and Wreford broke this course record last year with 2hr 23min)
What do you put your success down to over the last year or so?
I’m in the process of trying to change my running gait. Originally I’m a heel striker, meaning I reach out in my stride and land on my heel, and this what was leading to all my injuries. I’m now in the process of changing it and have injured myself a few times in the process. This process is a really difficult thing to do. It has its frustrations, but I’m on the way to sorting it. Getting rid of the heel strike has definitely allowed me to run quicker.
How’s training going at the moment?
Unfortunately, I have just come back from quite a severe illness, a blood clot in my ear. I’ve just got back into training again this week. Over summer I’m just going to be concentrating on speed.
What about track races over the summer?
We’ll see how it goes.
Who is currently coaching you?
Barry Magee has been coaching me for about five years.
How many kilometres of training do you do each week in preparation for a marathon?
About 200 a week.
Can you tell us how you do this on a day-by-day basis?
Barry will change this around closer to competition:
Monday 1 hour steady 80 percent at reasonable clip
Tuesday 1.5 hours
Wednesday 5k time trial
Thursday 2 hours
Friday 30 to 45 minute jog
Saturday 10k time trial
Sunday 2.5 to 3 hrs
There’s also a 30 to 40 minute jog most mornings. I’m an appliance technician; I fix washing machines and fridges. I’m really lucky, my boss is good to me, I actually work part time and I finish at 3pm so I can get a good training run in.
How long have you been a distance runner for?
I started running when I was about 10 or 11 years old, I’m 27 now, so that’s 16 to 17 years now. I’ve been based in Timaru all my life, and this is where I started out.
Did you compete as a runner at NZ Secondary School level?
I did 1500m’s and cross country. One year I won the junior road race in Auckland. I’ve had a few seconds and thirds over the years in the 1500m at NZ Secondary Schools level.
Do you have an athlete who inspires you as a runner?
Haile Gebrselassie’s probably the one. I grew up with him and I was gutted when he decided to retire, but now I hear that he may run the marathon at the London 2012 Olympics.