Athletics: New York Marathon a family affair

Getting ready to run in the New York marathon are Bernadette Farnan and son Tom Hunt. Photo by...
Getting ready to run in the New York marathon are Bernadette Farnan and son Tom Hunt. Photo by Jane Dawber.
A mother and son from Dunedin will be among the 40,000 competitors in the New York Marathon next month.

Three-time Otago marathon champion Tom Hunt (22) was encouraged to submit an entry when his mother, Bernadette Farnan, looked at running one of the big five marathons on the world circuit.

"It was the only one I could do without having to qualify," Farnan said of her weekend warrior status as a runner.

"Just to go to the start and get to the finish, that's my philosophy."

It is not the philosophy of son Hunt though, who hopes to complete the 42.2km course in a shade under 2hr 40min and better his personal-best time set on Dunedin's course in 2007 of 2hr 41min 51sec.

A time of 2hr 35min would be the ultimate goal for the November 7 event, he said.

Farnan, with a personal best of 4hr 44min, is aiming to finish within 2hr of her son.

Farnan (53) floated the idea of submitting entries for both her and Hunt earlier in the year, in an attempt to inspire and support her son with his marathon aspirations.

Hunt has picked up some impressive titles in his short span as a senior athlete.

He has had three Otago marathon successes, along with an Otago half marathon and 10,000m and 3000m titles, all within his first three years as a senior athlete.

Farnan took up running a shade over 40 years ago when her father, Noel, locked the representative scrum for the Wellington rugby team and she used to go with him on his runs around the block.

Recent health problems have curtailed Hunt's Lydiard training regime for New York, and he has only recently got his training back up to over 100km a week.

"Its been a pretty painful exercise getting back into it," Hunt said.

The New York event will be his seventh marathon, with his three on the Dunedin course matched by three in the Motutapu event.

The Motutapu race is a tough off-road slog and Hunt is yet to make it under the 3hr barrier.

However, he still finished ninth in 2008, third in 2009 and second this year.

His only other distance race has been his most satisfying, when he finished 18th in last year's Kepler Challenge in 6hr 1min.

He said the Kepler Challenge race was awesome, but "it kind of wasted me for the rest of the track season".

The coaching skills of Richard Barker have given Hunt the training regime and confidence to tackle the demands of the event.

"Richard has been pretty awesome in getting me prepared for this."

Barker has been Hunt's coach since he first entered the sport 10 years ago although Hunt's first provincial title did not come until he hit the senior ranks.

But while titles have eluded Hunt over the past 12 months, he is looking forward to the New York challenge.

"Its going to be a great experience just to be part of it. You never know, I may just get inspired to target a few more in other parts of the world."

As for Farnan it will be more about running in the occasion.

"I'll just plod along and do it for the enjoyment," she said.

The New York Marathon is one of the world's premier marathons and the duo were lucky enough to be balloted into the 40,000 field from an original 100,000 entries.

Both are more concerned about the finish area than making it to the start, and are still trying to work out where husband and father Ross and family friend Sally Ellison, who will be there in support, will be able to find them among the expected crowd of more than 100,000 at the finish.


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