Alice Mason will be defending her New Zealand marathon title in Christchurch on Sunday. A win will give Mason the honour of being the first woman to win the title three years in a row since the women’s championship inception in 1980. Mason, who also won the national half marathon title in 2018, has come off the back of a personal best time of 2:39:48 in Nagoya in March and a win for the second year in a row at Rotorua in early May. The 31 year old won the Christchurch marathon in 2015 and has also taken out the Wellington marathon in 2017.
Lisa Cross, current national cross country champion and half marathon champion in 2012 comes into the race with a personal best of 2:41:56 in winning the 2011 Auckland marathon. Cross knows the Christchurch route well having won the half marathon in 2012 plus third in 2013 and is fresh after winning the Rotorua half marathon four weeks ago. Olivia Ritchie warmed up for her first tilt at the marathon distance with a win in the Hanmer Springs half marathon. Also in with a chance of a podium placing are Lisa Brignull and Mel Stevens. Brignull, who has just turned 45, followed up a second at Christchurch in 2017 with a third last year in her career best of 3:04:35. Marnie Ponton of Western Sydney who has a best of 2:40:32 from the 2017 Gold Coast marathon is aiming for 2:35. Ponton is a former Australian steeplechase champion and represented Australia at the world cross country championships in Denmark in March. Sara Rathborne of Sydney will also be competing.
Oska Inkster-Baynes the national half marathon champion in 2012 and 2016 has his eye on the marathon title and a fast time. He will be seeking to cut out each 5km in 16:07 to achieve his goal of a four minute PB of 2:16.
Inkster-Baynes best of 2:20:36 came in winning the Auckland marathon in 2016. Competition for Inkster-Baynes will come from the defending New Zealand champion Blair McWhirter. He has a best of 2:22:38 in the 2017 London marathon and was second in the recent Rotorua event in 2:26:40.
Kristian Day of Wellington will be after a sub 2:30 time following on from his 2:30:25 clocking on the Gold Coast last July. Jonny McKee silver medallist in the 2010 national half marathon showed good form for his age of 40 in winning the recent Tauranga half in 1:11:36. Chris Wharam third in the 2017 national championship has a best of 2:33:48. Gavin Stevens (63) who recorded 2:32:06 in London in 2009 has his sights set on the 60-69 course record of 2:48:31 set by Australian Ron Peters in 2016.
Three Australians will add interest, Ben Toomey (33) who ran 2:27:23 in 2017 and 2:28:25 in Rotterdam in April, Dion Finocchiaro (30) who recorded 2:21:43 in Tokyo in March and Shaun Creighton (52) who has a best of 2:10:22 in Berlin in 1997. He won the Perth marathon last year in 2:32:13 and will be aiming for the Australian 50-55 record of 2:30:52. Creighton is an accomplished steeplechaser having competed at the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games.
The event returns to starting and finishing at the Christchurch Town Hall for the first time since the Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 201