News & Updates

2 May 2023 • Rotorua Marathon

New mum Alice returns for Rotorua Marathon test

Alice Mason recorded a hat-trick of victories taking top spot in the women’s race from 2018 through to 2020. This year she returns nine months after giving birth to her first child. (Credit: Alisha Lovrich).

When three-time former Red Stag Rotorua Marathon winner Alice Mason takes to the start line for her first appearance in the iconic race for two-and-a-half years the 35-year-old Tauranga-based athlete will take on a very different challenge.

Having previously arrived at the event with ambitions to make international teams, the quality athlete romped to a hat-trick of victories taking top spot in the women’s race from 2018 through to 2020.

Yet since giving birth to her first child, James, nine months ago she understands she faces a much different assignment for the 2023 race, so what did motivate her to return to the Red Stag Rotorua Marathon?

“I watched my partner (Andrew) walk the 2022 Rotorua Marathon last September when at the time I had a six-week-old baby,” explains Alice. “That day I remember going for a four-kilometre run when I struggled to even run at five-minutes per kilometre. The thought of running the Rotorua Marathon seemed so far away at that point, but the race is so iconic and such an honest, tough course I thought it would be kind of cool to run in this year’s event. Call it stupidity!”

Alice, who boasts a marathon PB of 2:38:35 set when placing fifth at the 2019 Sydney Marathon, run throughout much of her pregnancy but after being given the green light to re-start running six weeks after giving birth, she found the journey back to fitness was a long one.

“It took a long time for me to feel like I was actually running again and balancing a new-born baby and running was not easy,” she says. “At first I was barely doing more than 40km a week and I was wondering why I was not improving.”

In January she competed in the half marathon in the Mount Run in Mount Maunganui clocking 1:35 – and following this run through February/March she upped he weekly mileage to around 80-90km where she has seen significant gains.

“I feel I have improved so fast in the past couple of months with minimal training – it is amazing what the body can do. I sometimes do a lot of double runs – because it is easier to get out for half an hour -twice a day rather than one-hour sessions. I also do some pram running. James hated me running while in the pram at first, but he is much better now.”

Alice has also benefited with jumping in the odd group session with her coach, Craig Kirkwood, which includes training alongside top-drawer athletes such as New Zealand 1500m all-time number two, Sam Tanner, Olympic triathlon bronze medallist, Hayden Wilde, and national 3000m, 5000m and 10,000m champion Julian Oakley – which has unquestionably aided her road to full fitness in recent weeks.

Juggling life as a new mum, training and working two or three half days a week as an urgent care doctor at the Accident and Health Care medical care has been far from easy and while hopeful of a positive showing in Saturday’s (6 May) race, she is right to be cautious about her chances at this year’s event.

“It is hard to know, how I will go,” she says. “I would say I am 80 per cent sure I can do the distance and run under three hours, but I don’t know.  If I can survive the hills around the airport and get back that would be great. Looking after a little baby is cool, but running is something I can do for myself. I can go out and run for a period of time without thinking about anything else. My perspective on running has changed, it is more now for the sheer love of it.”