News & Updates

1 June 2023 • Road

Sarah Drought leads New Zealand Half Marathon contenders

The 2023 New Zealand Half Marathon Championships which takes place on Sunday 25 June has already assembled a strong field.

A strong line up has already committed to the 2023 New Zealand Half Marathon Championships which take place as part of the Gazley Volkswagen Wellington Marathon on Sunday 25 June.

With the additional incentive of the winner – provided they have hit the performance standard – being ‘priority consideration’ for the New Zealand half marathon team at the 2023 World Road Running Championships in Riga, Latvia (30 Sept-1 Oct) among the lead challengers for the women’s race is Sarah Drought (Wellington Harriers), who 12 months ago set a race record time in Wellington of 1:17:06.

Since that victory the 35-year-old mum-of-two has gone from strength to strength, finishing New Zealand’s number one finisher in the senior women’s race at the World Cross Country Championships in February and in April climbed to number one on the 2023 New Zealand half marathon rankings with a PB of 1:13:41 to triumph in Christchurch.

Also entered is the 2017 New Zealand Half Marathon champion Annika Pfitzinger, who finished second behind Drought in their recent clash as the Christchurch Half Marathon, recording 1:16:43.

Esther George (Wellington Harriers), who placed third in the Wellington Half Marathon last year and who recently secured victory in the Huntly Half Marathon in a PB of 1:17:59, further bolsters the women’s elite field for New Zealand Half Marathon Championships.

The 2022 New Zealand marathon champion Dan Balchin will attempt to secure his maiden national half marathon title having previously snared two silver and one bronze medal at past editions. The 32-year-old University of Canterbury athlete claimed his first New Zealand Half Marathon medal – a silver at the 2014 edition as part of the Wellington Marathon.

Wellington Scottish athlete, Hirotaka Tanimoto, who finished fourth in this event 12 months ago in a PB of 1:08:19, is also entered in the elite men’s race.

Athletics New Zealand Out of Stadia Co-ordinator John Bowden said: “The 2023 New Zealand Half Marathon Championships not only has the carrot of chasing a national title but the additional incentive of potentially securing a spot on the team for the World Road Running Championships in Latvia later this year.

“The fields already look strong and I’m looking forward to what will be an exciting event later this month.”

Wellington Marathon Event Manager, Michael Jacques, is looking forward to hosting the New Zealand Half Marathon Championship.

“Having a national championship as part of the event definitely adds prestige to the race,” says Jacques, who says around 60 athletes have entered for the New Zealand Half Marathon Championship and is expecting around 4000 participants in total across all events at the Gazley Volkswagen Wellington Marathon.

 “With the national championship and Wellington’s pancake flat course, we’re expecting some fast times and exciting racing,” says Jacques.

The half marathon performance standards for the 2023 World Road Running Championships.


  • Individual – 1:05
  • Team – 1:07


  • Individual – 1:16
  • Team – 1:18

To enter the New Zealand Half Marathon Championship go here