Ottosson storms home

Tauranga Ramblers were celebrating a Rotorua Marathon champion on Saturday night, though it came from an unexpected
source.

With most of the big guns succumbing either before or during the race, it was left to Rotorua-based osteopath Johanna Ottosson to storm home in the women’s division, winning in 2hr 50min 19sec.

It was Ramblers’ first title since Craig Kirkwood in 2007, with Swedish-born Ottosson joining the club last year.

“We don’t have that many senior women in Rotorua so I joined Ramblers for the team aspect,” Ottosson said. “We’re pretty confident of doing well in the national road relays later in the year if everyone’s fit.”

That team could also include Jess Ruthe, who pulled out of Rotorua last week with a leg injury, and Michelle Basson who was fourth in last year’s Auckland Marathon which Ruthe won.

Ottosson’s triumph on Saturday was particularly poignant as she nears to the two-year anniversary of a trail-bike crash that nearly ruined her running career, rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament and needing nearly 18 months off.

“I wasn’t actually going to run this – the plan is to go and run Gold Coast. It was more a case of getting a marathon under my belt.

I’ve run eight before but it was two years since my accident and this was my first since then.”
Ottosson was nearly 6mins ahead of Wellington’s Victoria Humphries, who was second for the second year in a row. Lesley Turner Hall of Auckland was third in 2hr 57min 5sec.

In the men’s race, former Tauranga runner Dale Warrander recovered from a bout of cramping 5km from the finish to storm home and grab his fourth title.

The 36-year-old, who switched from Tauranga Ramblers to Pakuranga earlier this year, passed Japanese runner Tsutomu Saeki 1km from the end to win in 2:26:54.

The Gold Coast-based Warrander now joins the legendary Jack Foster as the only athletes to have won the race four times.

Tauranga’s Kyle Macdonald finished a gritty sixth in his Rotorua debut, despite cramping and slowing to a walk at stages in the last 7km. “I felt good until around the 28-30km mark and I started to notice a change in the way my body was feeling. It came on quite suddenly after a cold shower came through – my toes went numb and it really got to me.”

Ramblers teammate Ben Ruthe pulled out after pacing through to the 30km mark, while Macdonald’s brother Iain, third last year, also pulled the pin shortly after.

There was no way Kyle was doing the same, however. “I was expecting Iain to catch me but then I saw him in the car going past. I had to get through it. I pulled out of my last marathon attempt on the Gold Coast three years ago and I’d done too much training to pull out. I would have been kicking myself if I hadn’t done that last 7km.”

Macdonald finished in 2:39.45 and now has his sights set on the cross-country season.

Rotorua favourite Steve O’Callaghan couldn’t complete a fairytale comeback after stumbling in the finish chute last year and finishing second – he faded to third after challenging Warrander and Saeki over the hills at the 21km mark.