Runner gunning for under 4hrs

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A long-distance runner is hoping to achieve his “A-goal” during Sunday’s marathon.

Darren de Groot, of Christchurch, hopes to finish the 42km Dunedin marathon in under four hours.

He ran the course a couple of times as a junior about 30 years ago, signed up for the half last year and had a “great time”.

“I’d entered the year before and had to withdraw one-two weeks before the event.”

He contacted race director Charlotte Meiklejohn and asked for his entry to be transferred to someone else.

“The message I got back from her was just so positive I thought ‘I can’t miss out’, so I entered straight away for the following year.”

After meeting Miss Meiklejohn at another marathon, he was given a Dunedin Marathon top which he has worn when competing in other events this year.

This year’s marathon will be his second since he was a junior, and preparations had been going well.

“I’ve been knocking out quite a few miles.”

He was tapering and would only do a couple of runs before race day to “keep the legs moving”.

He enjoyed the new course last year, because there were not as many long, straight stretches.

“It was mixed up, especially through the university, gardens and industrial area near the harbour.

“It was like an adventure.”

The full marathon starts at the Royal Albatross Centre car park, a road which Mr de Groot had travelled a few times.

“I think the exciting part [about the marathon] is it’s point-to-point.

“It’s just one-way and you’re knocking off the k’s.

“There’s no turnaround, it’s just to the finish.”

If he can complete the marathon in under four hours, he will then stick to half marathons and 10km events.

He has done some 30km runs in under three hours.

He was hoping for a tailwind along the water to the Harbour Molars.

“Hopefully, it’s a nice day like last year.

“It was just stunning.”

His mother, brother and sister-in-law would be stationed around the course supporting him.

“Mum doesn’t see me run often, so it will be good.”

More than 2300 people are expected to take part in this year’s events. Online entries closed last night, but people can still sign up tomorrow and Saturday at the race pack pick-up.