Iversen aims for marathon title

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Craig Iversen (pictured) has gone from a 1hr 31min half-marathon to one of the top marathon contenders in Sunday’s Southland Festival of Running.

Iversen’s half was four years ago. His three subsequent marathons were progressively faster and now he hopes to be among the leaders and vying for the title of Southland Marathon Champion, having won the title last year by being the first Southland club member home.

Marathon progressions have been 3.18, 3.14 and 3.06. Is this the year to break the magic 3-hour barrier? A 75min recent half-marathon (in Christchurch) suggests it might be.

But he knows he will have a tough tussle for line honours from past winner Jerome Lagumby.

The marathon (incorporating the Southland Championship) headlines the Festival of Running, which also includes a 10-miler (16km), 10km and 5km, starts at 8am with the other distances starting later in the morning.

The course follows the estuary track starting and finishing at the Stead St Wharf.

However, Covid-19 has put a spanner in the works. Alert level restrictions have forced the organisers (Southland Harriers) to limit total entries for all events to 100, reducing fields.

Iversen, who has been running seriously for about four years, started by accompanying daughter Kimberley who was training for her school cross-country.

Now he runs six days a week. But, as he said: “I was looking at the Southland Championship as something I wanted to win if I could, but recent health difficulties have made the focus just trying to get to the race in good condition and compete as well as I can. On the day, anything could happen.”

Sentiments that no doubt apply to all who are running.

All races should be competitive for the front runners and, with the attractive estuary course, enjoyable for the fun runners. And spectators too.

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