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Media Release from ASB Christchurch Marathon

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Defending Champion, Comeback Kid & Christchurch’s Favourite

With the defending champion facing a former national champion coming back after kids, as well as Christchurch’s highest profile endurance athlete, the women’s half marathon could take centre stage at this year’s ASB Christchurch Marathon event.

In a race of champions, defending ASB Christchurch half marathon champion, Olivia Burne, will face Olympic triathlete Andrea Hewitt, and former national champion and three-time Christchurch runner up Jess Ruthe.

With three Olympic Games behind her and currently ranked third in the world, local triathlete Andrea Hewitt is well-known to Cantabrians. Following the Rio Olympics Hewitt has changed her training markedly, spending more time in Christchurch and using local cycling and running races to help hone her speed for the international triathlon circuit, where she has already enjoyed two high profile wins this year.

While not a regular over the half marathon distance, Hewitt is arguably one of the better triathlon runners on the international circuit and will be something of a dark horse challenge for defending champion Olivia Burne. The Auckland-based runner, who is coached by 1960 Olympic marathon bronze medallist Barry Magee, clocked her best time when winning last year in 1hr 15min 31secs. Hewitt regularly clocks 35min for 10km at the end of triathlons, so could be expected to run the same pace over the half marathon, which would equate to at least 1hr 15min for the 21.1km.

Both women, however, will need to keep a wary eye on the most experienced woman in the field, Tauranga’s Jess Ruthe. The former national champion is on the comeback after having children. In April she won the Tauranga half marathon in 1hr 17min 09secs and as a three-time runner up at Christchurch in 2005, 06 and 07, the 38 year old will be keen to nab the top spot. She’ll also be keen to complete a family double, following on from Husband Ben Ruthe’s victory in 2007.

At the other end of the experience spectrum, two former junior stars are expected to keep the more experienced campaigners honest. Hamilton’s Olivia Ritchie cut her teeth on American university scholarships, while Aucklander Esther Keown has already won a world title.

In 2008 Keown (Auckland) won the world secondary school cross country title. Ritchie (Hamilton) won last year’s Hawke’s Bay half marathon and has a strong distance running pedigree from her mother, Kiwi Olympic marathoner Marguerite Ritchie.

Race director, Chris Cox, is thrilled to see the women’s race shaping up so well.

“We work hard to make the ASB Christchurch Marathon New Zealand’s premier road race,” says Cox. “Athletes like Olivia Burne, Andrea Hewitt and Jess Ruthe acknowledge this by lining up here when they could be racing overseas. It’s great because as well as helping the profile of the sport at home, it also gives up-and-comers like Olivia Ritchie and Esther Keown a chance to rub shoulders with established champions.”

Starting at 8:00am on Sunday, the new-look ASB Christchurch Marathon will start and finish in Cathedral Square and take in Hagley Park and the Avon River. As well as the feature full marathon and half marathon distances, there is a 10km option and the Kids’ Mara’Fun over either 1km, 2km or 3km.

Entrants running the full, half and 10km distances at the ASB Christchurch Marathon will be automatically entered in the Hagley 100. Timing pads will be installed in Hagley Park across a 100m stretch of the course. The fastest man and woman across the distance every 15 minutes (between 8am – 9.15am) will win a prize pack including a Sports Bag, Water Bottle, ASB St John in Schools First Aid Kit and a $300 Shoe Clinic Voucher.

For more information and to make a late entry, visit:

www.christchurchmarathon.co.nz.

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