News & Updates

5 May 2022 • Track and Field

Oska hunting local glory at Reboot Marathon

Oska Inkster-Baynes crosses the finish line to win the Christchurch Half Marathon in 2021 (Photo: Marathon-Photos)

Oska Inkster-Baynes, concept course designer of Reboot: The Athletes Marathon, will hope his local knowledge will pay dividends for the entire field including himself when he takes to the start line on Sunday (15 May) hunting a fast time and the New Zealand senior marathon title.

Describing the 42km route at Tai Tapu south of Christchurch as a “PB course” the local Cantabrian is gunning for a sub-2:15 clocking and also looking to maintain his unbeaten record over the 42.2km distance.

Following the cancellation of the Christchurch Marathon – which was scheduled for April – Athletics NZ, Athletics Canterbury and others – including Oska – swiftly worked on a plan to ensure the New Zealand Marathon Championships went ahead as a standalone event.

Posed the question by Christchurch-based endurance coach Craig Motley to think of a potential course, Oska found a solution.

“I said the Tai Tapu road which used to host a 15km event in the early 2000s would be a good option,” explains Oska. “I was familiar with the road as a training route, it’s a beautiful piece of road – ideal for a tempo run. It is flat and well sheltered from the wind by trees along much of the route. I had some good contacts at Selwyn District Council and when I asked about traffic management and closing the road and they said, yes, it was all on.” 

While it might be a slight stretch to call Tai Tapu as New Zealand’s equivalent to the Berlin Marathon – commonly regarded as the fastest marathon in the world – it certainly presents exciting opportunities for the domestic marathon elite.

Caden Shields used the roads to aid his preparation for the Hamburg Marathon last month when he set a PB of 2:13:21 and Oska adds: “We have tried to limit as many external factors as possible with the course by making it flat, with few corners and well sheltered. We all want to reach our potential to run as fast as we can, and this course gives us that chance.”

Since coming up with the initial concept. Oska has stepped aside and let race director John Gamblin and his committee take on the organisationally role, but encouragingly for the 31-year-old athlete his preparations have gone swimmingly.

“I’m touching wood whole saying this, but I’ve probably had the best 12 to 14 weeks of training I’ve ever managed to get through,” he explains. “I’ve ran between 100-120 miles per week and had the advantage of training with a good crew down here with Andy Good (who also competes in the marathon on Sunday). It’s been a very enjoyable marathon block.”

Coached successfully by Matt Ingram for the past eight years, Oska has often sought innovative methods of training in order to get the most out of his body. One fascinating training session he has adopted has been the “marathon beep test” which he devised during the first lockdown.

“It was a bit of a silly concept I come with in which essentially every 3km reps is increased by a speed of 15 seconds. The first rep is run at one minute and 20 seconds slower than your theoretical marathon effort and every rep you get 15 seconds faster so five seconds a kilometre faster with about a minute rest in between and see how far you go. I ran 48km on one training day (for the Reboot Marathon) and my last rep was run at a pace of 3:02 per kilometre. To me the marathon is all about who can cover the distance best and who dies the least (in the latter stages). This rep gives me confidence I have the strength and speed at the end to compete.”

Running a 14:35 5000m on the track as well as recording 66:26 for the half-marathon while running at marathon pace his competitive preparation has been on point, Oska is quietly confident of a good run and maintaining his 100 per cent winning record in marathons after victory in Auckland in 2016 (2:20:36) and Christchurch in 2019 (2:18:11) – when he also secured the New Zealand marathon title. 

“If it is ideal conditions, no wind and there is a group us of working hard together I’d love to run under 2:15,” he adds. “I felt in Christchurch in 2019 I was worth more than my 2:18 time given there was knee high water on the course. I’ve been training well, and I was spurred on my Caden’s result in Hamburg. It was a phenomenal run by him but if he can do it, there is no reason I can’t run a time in that vicinity.”

Entries are open for Reboot: The Athletes Marathon until 8pm on Sunday May 8. Enter here.