Athletics: Hooper targets marathon record

Rowan Hooper, of Canterbury, finishes second in last year's national cross-country championships at Wingatui racecourse. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Rowan Hooper, of Canterbury, finishes second in last year's national cross-country championships at Wingatui racecourse. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Canterbury champion Rowan Hooper is not only adamant he intends to defend Dunedin's Moro Marathon title but is aiming to break the course record.

With less than two weeks until Dunedin's premier running and walking event takes place on a course around the waterfront on September 14, organisers are anticipating another record number of entries, surpassing the 1750 that competed last year.

Among those already committed and making no secret of their intention is last year's marathon champion, Hooper, who came within 56sec of snatching Paul Allison's mark of 2hrs 24min 31sec achieved in 1993.

The 29-year-old carbon analyst from Christchurch is coming off another successful winter season in which he has finished runner-up in the national cross-country championships for the second consecutive year, and an impressive first in an international-class field in the Canterbury marathon, run in 2hrs 21min 40sec, at Queens Birthday weekend.

Hooper is sure the experience and knowledge gained on the course last year will assist in his attempt at lowering the record established by Allison.

"This event fits in nicely with my schedule," Hooper said from Christchurch.

"I think the time is very gettable, but there's still a number of factors that come in to achieving that."

Hooper decided to contest the Dunedin event instead of an Australian marathon in the coming months because of timing.

He is building up stamina for the track season, where his goal is to achieve a sub-14min time for the 5000m.

Hooper is sacrificing the possibility of a medal in the national road championships to focus on Dunedin's marathon.

"I'm keen to have a go and give the record a really good crack," he said.

His recovery process and build-up since his victory on the Christchurch course at Queen's Birthday has involved preparation work for the Dunedin event.

Hooper is yet to be defeated in a marathon in New Zealand, having won in Dunedin last year and in Christchurch in June. His first two marathons were in Sacramento and London.

One of Hooper's attributes is his ability to judge his pace, a factor that helped secure his success to date.

Once again Dunedin's marathon has attracted not only national interest, but international interest as well with a number of overseas-based runners declaring an interest.

Among the early favourites in the women's section of the full marathon are Canterbury's Rosa Scott and Rachel Harrison.