Wellington’s marathon monster

Stalwart club member Bert Prendergast is the first athlete On The Run has approached who offered up a marathon rather than a middle distance race as their greatest race to date.This is no surprise because Bert is regularly spotted running multiple marathons in a season, sometimes within weeks of each other.

The 2015 Wellington Marathon is just such a case, following four weeks after Christchurch where Bert had recently set his 2.48 PB.

Bert says Wellington gets “a fair amount of grief” for the conditions, but he thinks it can be a pretty fast course.

“It’s flat, not too many corners and you do get a tailwind for some parts.”

Bert says he wasn’t planning on doing Wellington, but then he won a free entry from a Facebook competition, “so decided to sneak another marathon in”.

His four weeks of training focused on recovering from Christchurch.

“Legs started to feel alright after a couple of weeks and I think I ran a tempo at K Park the week before the race.”

Bert completed his training taper by catching up with a couple of former flatmates who were in town to run the half marathon.

They had “a pretty boozy night” on Friday with a Turkish BYO and a spell at Dakota (“I did not ride the bull”).

“I spent most of Saturday feeling like I’d been folded in half by a hangover. Without a doubt the worst prepared I had been for a marathon. Also, the Hurricanes lost another Super Rugby final on Saturday night, so things were not great in Wellington.”

The 2015 Wellington Marathon doubled as the Athletics Wellington Marathon Championship. Bert recalls that the day featured quite a few soon-to-be Scottish members; Chris Wharam, Kristian, Ruby, and Lucas all lined up. Harry and Ben Twyman ran as well. Dan Clendon from WHAC ran well and won the Wellington Champs.

There was a gentle northerly on the morning of the race and conditions were pretty nice for a Wellington winter. Bert cautiously ran the first couple of kilometres pretty easy.

Bert picks up the story at this point:

“I decided I was feeling pretty good and settled in to around 4-minute pace from Point Jerningham. At some stage, I caught up to Ruby, who was aiming to break the race record of 2:48. There was another guy running with us, in my memory he spent 100 percent of the time sitting at the back and doing no work, so I was a bit salty about that. I felt like I did my fair share at the front in the wind, but seems like in most of the photos I am sitting behind Ruby – sorry Ruby!

“Most of the run was pretty mundane, as most marathons are. After halfway the lead group started breaking up, and we went past Harry and Lucas at some stage. When we got to the wind needle (about 35 km), I was feeling decent. The run back from the needle to the stadium is pretty rude. You’re going up the guts of the prevailing wind, and unless you’re quicker than about 2:30 you’re also mingling with the meat of the 10km and half marathon fields. I remember battling up the ramp to the stadium and seeing KDay in the distance ahead – he had a pretty rough day.

I finished up in 2:48 on the dot for 7th place. I was also second in the Wellington Marathon Champs, which is a fair reflection of the current prestige the title holds (apologies to any other winners). Chris had won the men’s race in 2:40, with what looks like an epic last quarter from his Strava recording. A Stuff commenter said that this was a slow time for a men’s winner! Rough stuff.

“I think Bernie finished the half-marathon not long after I did – I was talking to Rowan Grieg at the finish line and he nearly missed getting a photo of her! Whoops.

“After the race I waited for my flatmates to finish and we headed down the road for a wet lunch. I went to the prizegiving to pick up my silver medal. Todd Stevens was handing them out; he said the he would swap it for one that had my name on it. (Still waiting on that, Todd).

“At the time it was a PB, and the first time I’d gotten any sort of silverware from a marathon. It’s not my fastest race any more, but I think, given the lead-in to the start that I had, it still has to be my top performance.”

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