News & Updates

15 May 2022 • Road

Balchin records blistering time to bank New Zealand marathon crown

The Reboot Marathon saw victories for Daniel Balchin and Hannah Miller. Credit: (Michael Dawson).

In a dramatic finale to the 2022 New Zealand Senior Marathon Championships in Canterbury, Daniel Balchin claimed a thrilling victory from club-mate Oska Inkster-Baynes in 2:15:55 record the fastest marathon time by a Kiwi in New Zealand for 25 years.

Competing on his debut over the 42.2km distance it was some performance from Balchin who added the New Zealand marathon crown to national titles he has won in the past on the track over 3000m, 3000m steeplechase, 5000m and 10km on the road.

However, huge credit should also go to Oska-Baynes who led for much of the race until his hamstring heartbreakingly seized up in the final stages to allow the doggedly pursuing Balchin to sweep past and on to the victory in a titanic tussle.

Inkster-Baynes bravely carried on to the finish to stop the clock in 2:16:46 and can be proud of his efforts in winning silver on a course he helped design.

Andy Good picked up bronze in 2:22:39 to ensure University of Canterbury enjoyed a clean sweep of the podium.

The New Zealand Senior Marathon Championships rebranded as Reboot: The Athletes Marathon and was run on a flat, fast course in Tai Tapu just south of Christchurch certainly delivered as the six individual medallists at the New Zealand marathon championships all secured personal best performances. Balchin’s time was also the fastest marathon time run by a Kiwi in New Zealand since Phil Costley won the 1997 Auckland Marathon in 2:14:03.

Paced by Cameron Avery through to 32km Inkster-Baynes and Balchin quickly established control at the head of affairs.

At the 30km drinks station Balchin made a slight error and lost contact with Inkster-Baynes but crucially never dropped more than 10 to 15 seconds off the pace.

In the final 6km the University of Canterbury athlete started reeling in Inkster-Baynes, only for the long-time leader to start encounter worsening issues with his ITB, knee and hamstring. At around 41km and with Balchin within touching distance the left leg of Inkster-Baynes completely seized up and he was forced to stop in an effort to mobilise the leg as Balchin took control of the race.

Inkster-Baynes spent “around a minute” on the side of the road before returning to bravely finish the race.

“I’m very happy with how the race went,” said Balchin. “I had a solid block of training leading into Reboot and the race was set up well for a fast pace but as it was my first marathon, so I wasn’t sure how it would go.

“Cameron did a great job pacing and it also helped that we ran with some of the half marathon guys in the first half of the race. I think I lost concentration at the drinks station (and lost time to Inkster-Baynes) but I managed to regather myself and locked back into the same pace I had been running earlier. I didn’t know about Oska’s issues but managed to pass him around 41km.

“I’ve been running the domestic scene for the past decade and the marathon has provided me the motivation to take on a new challenge. Having this race set up so athletes can chase quick times was a great idea and ensured that all of us as athletes really got something out of the experience.”

For Inkster-Baynes, who has required round-the-clock medical support over the past week to simply make it to the start line in Tai Tapu after encountering an ill-timed issue with his hamstring and ITB in the lead-up to the race, was enormously proud of not only his efforts but all the athletes who competed in Reboot.

“It was great we managed to get 85 people on the start line and that we gave them every opportunity to run fast,” he added. “I had a great tussle today with an old mate (Balchin) but unfortunately, I had a bit of a niggle and I got caught with around 1200m to go. But take nothing away from Daniel, who stormed home to take the win.”

Hannah Miller (Wellington) secured the first national title of her career to claim an emphatic victory in the women’s race in a time of 2:37:31. Miller took control from the outset and although she fell short of her ambitious goal to target a World Championship entry standard mark of 2:29:30 she was delighted to clinch her maiden New Zealand gold medal in a time a little under a minute quicker than the 2:38:29 mark she achieved when winning on her marathon debut in Texas in March.

The Wellington Scottish runner, who has recently returned to New Zealand after a six-year stint training and studying in the US, said: “I was a bit disappointed that I wasn’t quite on pace to get the time I wanted but I can’t complain. It is great to be back running in New Zealand and I’m stoked to run a PB in front of my family (who were in Canterbury to watch her having travelled up from the sheep and beef family farm in Southland).

“Just before halfway I probably backed off the pace a bit before regaining for composure and reframing my goals. To win a national is a great thing. Probably my sweet spot at the moment is the half marathon, but I’m very excited to be on this journey and I’ll continue to run marathons.”

Behind, Lisa Cross matched her achievement from three years ago to win national marathon silver and did so by chipping 44 seconds from her 11-year-old personal best, running 2:41:12. It was a proud performance by the 39-year-old Aucklander who like so many others made the most of running on an athlete-friendly course.

Bronze went to 2021 New Zealand Mountain Running champion Nancy Jiang (Nelson-Tasman) who wiped almost three-and-a-half minutes from her lifetime best over the classic distance – running 2:51:53.

New Zealand mile and 3000m champion Julian Oakley impressed on his half marathon debut to take out the 21.1km event in an impressive 1:03:49. The 28-year-old from Waikato-Bay of Plenty quickly established control of the race and galloped through the 10km split in 29:59. Oakley then powered on home to dip well below his pre-race aim of a sub-1:05:00 clocking to record the fastest time over the half marathon distance by a New Zealander in 2022. Behind, Jacob Priddy (Waikato-Bay of Plenty) in 1:07:32 and Josh Baan (Canterbury) in 1:08:37 both posted personal best times to take home the minor medals.

In the women’s race, Esther George (Wellington) edged Aucklander Brigid Dennehy (North Harbour Bays) by a 19-second margin to win in a new PB of 1:18:37. Dennehy, an Irish national also eclipsed her previous best for the 21.1km distance. Olivia Ritchie of Don Grieg Racing Stables secured third in 1:24:15.

For full results go here