News & Updates

6 May 2023 • Rotorua Marathon

Hicks and Mason create their slice of Red Stag Rotorua Marathon history

Malcolm Hicks romps to victory in the Red Stag Timber Rotorua Marathon in the fastest winning time for 22 years. (Credit: Aaron Gillions).

On a memorable 59th year of the historic Red Stag Timber Rotorua Marathon, Tokyo Olympian Malcolm Hicks produced the quickest winning time for 22 years, and just nine months after giving birth to her first child Alice Mason earned a record-equalling fourth victory in the women’s race.

In the men’s race, Hicks, stopped the clock in an impressive 2:21:49 to outslug Michael Voss, the 2020-2022 champion and deny the Rotorua builder what would have been an unprecedented fourth successive win in the race. Voss had to settle for second – albeit with a Rotorua Marathon PB of 2:24:03. Unheralded Cullern Thorby completed the podium in third (2:26:28).

Hicks and Voss opted to run the first half of the race together but the invisible bungee cord between the pair snapped at around 25km as Hicks, the fourth fastest New Zealand marathoner in history with a best of 2:10:04, poured on the pressure and took an ultimately decisive lead.

The 35-year-old Auckland-based engineer who has struggled with injury since his Olympic marathon appearance in 2021, extended his advantage in the latter stages and galloped to the race win, adding his name to the pantheon of top-quality athletes to have claimed victory in the iconic race.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Hicks, who recorded the fastest Red Stag Timber Rotorua Marathon since Jonathan Wyatt ran 2:20:50 in 2001. “It is what I came to do. It was a very tough course, but it was thoroughly enjoyable. I had awesome support all the way round even in the more remote areas. Coming into the Government Gardens gates and turning into the crowd was a fantastic way to finish. I’m thrilled. It is such an iconic race, and I am very proud to join a long list of very accomplished marathon runners to win this race.”

Hicks who claimed his maiden victory over the 42.2km distance in his first ever marathon in New Zealand added: “Michael and I went through the first half of the race together and then I got a bit impatient, and I started to squeeze and stretch thing out a little bit, which I might have regretted at about 35km. I’m not the most patient racer, but it was fun and once I had a gap, I just had to push home.

“Today was a little bit of redemption to get back out racing again. It was almost two years since my last marathon at the Tokyo Olympics, so it was fantastic to put the training to good use and come away with the win.”

Just nine months after giving birth to baby, James, Alice Mason proved an inspiration to mum’s everywhere by adding to her three previous Red Stag Timber Rotorua Marathon titles from 2018-2020 to win in a time of 2:54:28.

Despite a far from textbook preparation, which included regular night feeds to her son overnight and an understandably limited pre-race training, the Tauranga-based urgent care doctor managed to execute a quality marathon to take the race win and match the record-breaking feat of Jillian Costley as a four-time winner of the women’s race.

“The race went much better than expected, said Mason, 35. “Over the final 10km I definitely was thinking I hadn’t done as much training as previously, but sometimes competing when not chasing PB’s you are a little more comfortable and the aim was just to physically get round the course.”

On matching the feat of Costley, Mason said: ‘It is special to win Rotorua for the fourth time. It is a tough, honest marathon course, the toughest in New Zealand, so to be able to come back and win is awesome.

“While I don’t think it should be a challenge to race back after having a baby, it is cool to be able to compete once more and I’m proud to win so soon after giving birth. It has been a tough journey.”

Gabriela Diver placed second in 3:06:45 with fellow Aucklander Charlotte Stuart upgrading on her fourth place finish in the 2022 edition by placing third in 3:16:49.

North Harbour Bays athlete Chris Trent delivered the biggest win of his career to take top spot in the Red Stag Timber Half Marathon for a winning margin of exactly five minutes in a time of 1:18:58.

The Hobsonville-based National League football referee has been a ‘social runner’ for the best part of a decade but under the encouragement of his partner, Jasmine Finney, who finished third in the women’s half marathon today, over the past year or so he has taken running more seriously.

Trent, who works in biotech commercial operations, took control of the race after 2km and remained unsurpassed to claim an emphatic win.

“It was tougher underfoot than what I expected but I feel good and happy with the time,” said Trent, who was using today as preparation for the Gold Coast Marathon in July.

“It is only my second ever half marathon following victory in the 2017 Orewa Half Marathon but a very different experience. I tell everyone I’m a social runner but maybe I might have to change my mind a bit now.”

Training partner to Alice Mason, Deb Fuller earned an impressive victory in the women’s half marathon by defying the hills and mud through the Redwoods to win in 1:25:53.

Better known as a triathlete this was a rare half-marathon excursion for the 26-year-old Tauranga-based athlete, but one which she looks back on with huge satisfaction.

“I was hoping for the win, although I am a triathlete and my coach, Craig Kirkwood slotted this race in as more of a training run,” said Fuller, a teacher aide and sports co-ordinator. It was a hilly, hard course, very muddy which made it a battle to stay upright. It was very challenging, but I’d never raced here before, so rounding every corner was something new to me and very exciting.

“It was fantastic to get the win and have my whole family down here to support as well as my training buddy, Alice Mason. I love Rotorua it has some amazing trails it is such a cool environment to train and race at.”

Darian Sorouri clinched top spot in the Go Media 10km men’s race, recording 33:38. Olivia Witney, who ran a time of 2:40:01 in the Tokyo Marathon in March and who finished second in the 2018 Red Stag Timber Rotorua Marathon, claimed the women’s 10km win in 38:29.

More than 4000 runners/walkers participated in the misty rain as part of the 2023 Red Stag Rotorua Marathon today competing in the Red Stag Timber Marathon and Half Marathons, the Go Media 10km and the First Credit Union 5.5km events.

Events still to come as part of the 2023 Red Stag Rotorua Marathon

Saturday 6 May

7pm – RampRun

 Sunday 7 May

1.30pm – Runway5