The Battle of the Bridge: Race Review

By Hayden Shearman // The Auckland Marathon has come and gone for another year. So it’s time to reflect on what was a warm, but typically epic festival of running.

Batman conquers the Battle of the Bridge. Photo: Greg Bowker/NZ Herald.

Batman conquers the Battle of the Bridge. Photo: Greg Bowker/NZ Herald.

My experience of the day was of running the half marathon as a training effort for Queenstown Marathon (just 20 days later). So to save my legs for the marathon, I aimed to run a tick under 75 minutes in the half to give sub-2:30 marathon pace a little trial. It worked but the heat and humidity threw some spanners in the works that have me reassessing my goals for Queenstown by a minute or two.

But as a training run I had the privilege of taking the time to witness a bunch of great moments going on around me. So here are my highlights:

The Women’s Half Marathon Race

At 5k into the half marathon I turned to the group running with me (which included the leading three women) and told them I was aiming to run exactly 75mins and they could feel free to use me as a pace maker. So Nikki Hamblin and Camille Buscomb took up the offer and I paced them through to Shelly Beach Rd (16k).

It was impressive to see how hard they were working right throughout the race. Nikki is a 2x silver medalist in the Commonwealth Games (800 & 1500m in 2010) and Camille has been the leading local long distance runner for most of 2014. So the match up was intriguing.

I felt that if Nikki could hang on to Camille until the final straight, the race would be hers for the taking. But Camille made a move at 12k and even after Nikki pulled that lead back on the bridge, Camille’s strength over the longer distances was enough to give her the win by just a couple of seconds.

The Men’s Marathon Race

There’s something magic about the last 10k of the marathon that means heart break for some and glory for others, but definitely means oodles of pain for everyone. In this case it was Stephen Lett who muscled his way to the glory, leaving behind a handful of very weary chasers.

Stephen isn’t the textbook, smooth-looking runner (like Sam Wreford, last year’s marathon winner) but as he came past me with a mile to run, I could tell he is a runner that earns his times and victories by a whole heap of elbow grease and determination. A truly gutsy win in demanding early summer heat … all topped off with his wife giving birth later that day!

The Everyday Joe and Jenny

From our TempoFit cheering spot on Westhaven Drive (the 18k mark) I witnessed thousands of painful faces: everything from the cherry read to the ghostly white.

They were faces of people who rather ironically had paid good money and trained for months for that very moment of pain and anguish. They each were fighting their own battles and each could tell stories of overcoming many hurdles of life, injury and illness to be at that point in the race. And without fail, they were all dead set on pushing through that painful moment to the finish line. It’s inspirational stuff and has me amped to race my heart out in Queenstown in three weeks. Bring it on!

10 responses to “The Battle of the Bridge: Race Review

  1. I remember when the two leading women sped past me – I was on Westhaven Drive just before the turn onto Beaumont Street, and those two were absolutely flying, with only a few paces separating them. As Nikki passed me I thought “hang on, I’ve seen her on TV…” but it took me a while to finally click that it was Nikki Hamblin. For an average Jenny it was quite cool to be in the presence of these top runners – very inspiring!

    • That’s a great point Heather. You see these athletes on TV in the Comm Games and Olympics and awesome to be racing the same streets as them! I hope your Marathon went really well!

      • I really enjoyed it – the weather was perfect and the crowd support was just fantastic, right the way around the course. Auckland sure knows how to put on a great event!

  2. race directors of the auckland marathon need to see how a marathon should be run. no food at the finish line and no medals for the half marathon finishers is disgusting. would not recommend this race. the route and scenery is great but thats all it has going for it.

    • Did they run out of bananas Carol? I think there is much to be said for having the goodie bags given to you when you cross the finish line rather than at registration. Auckland Marathon is changing ownership for next year with the Ironman brand taking it over. So now could be a good chance to air any concerns about the race to them. What shocked me was the absolute lack of distance markers for large chunks of the half marathon and the in accuracy of the ones that were there.

  3. Hi Hayden,

    One of entrants in the event asked me to respond on your blog to correct some feedback as Race Director. I am not sure what happened to Carol as after passing the finishing line on event day she would have to go past not one put two Powerade support stations. The second one handing out a free 500m bottle to all, plus walking past a banana support station with 14,500 bananas and again we had some left over this year. Once in Victoria Park she could have got a free sausage (More FM) or free assortment of Pascal lollies amongst other offerings.

    Regarding your comment re KM signage – every 1km on the course has large KM signage installed on the nearest post to the certified (IAAF AIMS measured) KM mark except on the Harbour Bridge and Motorway. Sometimes this is 20m from the actual point unfortunately.


    • Thanks for those thoughts Richard. Not sure what happened with the food situation for Carol.

      I’m intrigued to know what the story is with the lack of distance marking on the motorway? Is this a council restriction?

      Any chance the KM markers could be free standing rather than relying on the telegraph poles? It could be another avenue for sponsorship exposure for them to come up with an innovative distance marker. Even a bunch helium balloons tied to a weight … hmm maybe not so good on a windy day. 🙂

      • Installing any signage on the motorway apart from advisory is a no go, however we keep trying different and presenting options for this and other things that make the runner experience better. thanks for your support.

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