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By Rachel Grunwell

An award-winning chef who has cooked for Prime Minister John Key  may just snatch the Rotorua Marathon title on April 30.

Ciaran Faherty doesn’t even have a run coach. But he’s a top contender to take out first place.

He’s a relatively new name causing ripples on the running scene.

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Faherty, a 28-year-old chef who works at Circus Circus cafe in Mt Eden, Auckland,  says he started running three years ago as a hobby and because friends were into the sport. But he has only decided to take running “seriously” in the last few months after winning some races recently including: a 10km race in Albany, Taranaki’s Mountain to Surf marathon and the Huntly Half Marathon.

He ran the Taranaki event as a warm up for the Rotorua Marathon and ended up blitzing the course in 2 hours 21 minutes 58 seconds.

“I’ve won three events in just a few months… It’s so exciting,” says Faherty. “Actually, it’s a bit of an addiction now. But it’s a good addiction to have!”

He credits being “stubborn” and “dedicated” to long-distance training for his wins.

“I run a lot of days (in) excess of the marathon distance – mostly 50km days, twice a week during peak training. I’ve run a few 60km days in the past few weeks and the longest training day to date is 70km. I just love to run. Hopefully now, stamina won’t be an issue,” he says.

The 5’9 and 61kg athlete says he ran nine times weekly for his training build up (as well as fitting in some weights and kick-boxing). His biggest week was getting in 210km training miles. However, he’s in taper mode at the moment.

Faherty says his recent winning streak spurred him to take running seriously and so he switched from being a head chef at Auckland’s TriBeCa restaurant, working over 60-hours weekly, in January to taking up a chef role in Mt Eden where he only works 40-45 hours weekly.

This is so he can fit in more run training.

It was at TriBeCa that he cooked for John Key, MP Paula Bennett and others at a fundraiser dinner.

He met Key too.

“I introduced my chefs to him afterwards. He’s a nice chap. He was besotted by the quality of the food, which was lovely to hear,” says Faherty, who has previously won the Chef’s Table gold award for two consecutive years in Australia. He won these awards before he moved from Sydney to Auckland to live two years ago.


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Here’s an example of one of Faherty’s culinary creations.

He says swapping his award-winning chef’s career to focus more on run training took a lot of consideration, but he reckons the “gamble” was paying off  with his recent race wins.

Faherty says he’s also not a typical chef because “I eat very, very healthy food”.

He eats lots of grains, vegetables, “a hell of a lot of chicken” (about nine meals of this weekly) and loves making his own smoothies and bircher muesli.

On race day, he’ll use three gels and take a sip of water at every drink station.

The Irishman, who moved to New Zealand two years ago, has the quickest personal best marathon time of all the elite male runners currently entered into the Rotorua Marathon event. However, his best time was on a downhill course (The Mountain to Surf event).

So he will have tough competition with some other top male runners lining up beside him including: Stephen Lett, Tony Payne, Nick Horspool and Chris Sanson, to name some. While, the elite females who have entered so far inlcude: Klaartje van Schie, Katie Wyrill and Mel Aitken.

The Rotorua Marathon will be Faherty’s 12th marathon (he ran 8 last year). He runs with the YMCA run club and says he’s the second youngest member.

He also trains a lot with ultra runner friend Claire Walton, who gives him a bit of training advice – as he doesn’t have a run coach. (I mentioned he should get one!)

Meanwhile, Faherty says his big, ultimate run goal is the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and he says: ” I think it’s pretty realistic”.

Meanwhile, look out for him on race day wearing his sponsor’s logo (Bolero Drinks).

“Hopefully I’ll be ahead and I’ll be running scared,” he quips.

You can still enter the Rotorua Marathon. Click here

ps go into the draw to WIN a $150 prize package including a blender by entering a comp on our Facebook page.

Story penned by Rachel Grunwell, a wellbeing columnist for two magazines, yoga teacher (who specialises in ‘yoga for runners’) and blogger for  She’s running the Rotorua Marathon too (her 12th marathon), guiding a blind runner as an Achilles charity ambassador.

Follow Rachel/Inspired Health on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

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 Rachel’s last run-related blog was: Nutrition Tips for Runners doing the Rotorua Marathon – from 2 nutritionists and an elite runner.

The run blog was on TV3’s Mike McRobert’s entering into the Christchurch Marathon