Baynes and Burne to defend national half titles
Oska Baynes and Olivia Burne will be defending their New Zealand half marathon titles, in the annual Kerikeri half marathon on Saturday.
Baynes who has a best of 1:05:33 at the Southern Lakes half marathon in April has recovered well after being forced to withdraw mid-way through the New Zealand road championships in Christchurch in September, after tripping and tweaking a calf. Two weeks ago he won the Boulder Bay 10.5km trail race and last week he ran a personal best of 30:15 in winning the Selwyn running festival 10km.
Baynes also won the half marathon title in 2012 held in Palmerston North.
However hot on his heels will be cross country champion Craig Lautenslager who on taking out the cross country crown declared his next major race will be the national half marathon championship. Lautenslager has yet to run a half marathon but has a 10,000m track time of 29 minutes at Stanford in March to his credit.
Stephen Lett, the 2011 national half marathon champion knows the course well, being a three time winner in Kerikeri in 2005, 2007 and 2011 and he should test the leading group throughout.
Harry Linford, the 2015 Kerikeri winner, Brad Luiten second last year and Cameron Graves a 1:10:53 half marathoner from 2011 are also expected to challenge for a podium placing.
In winning the title last year in Christchurch, Burne recorded her best time of 1:15:29. The national road champion won the Auckland half marathon last month in 1:15:48 and earlier this year won the half marathon in Huntly and Rotorua and was third in Christchurch. With this form Burne will be hard to peg back.
Penny Peskett with a best of 1:18:03 and Sally Gibbs 2014 national half champion with a best of 1:17:03 are both expected to feature in the top women placings.
Michael Wray, Rick Tombling, Luiten, Simon Yarrow, Adam Berry and Nick Pannett and in the women Gibbs, Peskett, Ady McKenzie, Fiona Love, Bridget Ray and Paula Canning are the leading masters entered.
It is the second time the championships have been based on the Kerikeri event, Kim Hogarth won in 2008 in 1:08:16.
The course is from Okaihau to the Kerikeri Domain and the race starts at 7.30am.
The first New Zealand half marathon championship was held in 1991, staged at Pakuranga with Kerry Rodger and Maree Turner the inaugural champions.