sam pic 2

Pic by Marathon Photos

By Rachel Grunwell

She did it!

The winner of the Rotorua Marathon event’s Real Runner competition conquered the new half-marathon on May 5 – & she loved it!

Sam Meade, from Nelson, won the $4500 prize-pack to get her race ready for the event including a race entry and t-shirt, Millennium Hotel accommodation, new Asics shoes, Jaybird wireless headphones, a ThermaTech prize pack, wellness advice from yours truly, Polynesian Spa passes & smoothies – plus coaching by experienced coach John Bowden (who trains lots of elite runners to weekend warriors).

Sam won the prize package after a heart-tugging entry bowled over judges. Sam had been through a tough year, losing loved ones, and she wanted to return to running to help her body & mind heal. The challenge was a great thing to focus on and helped to uplift her outlook.

Here’s how the race went in her words below. Sam, the whole Rotorua Marathon team is so proud of you!!!!

rotorua marathon comp logo

By Sam Meade 

Wow, where do I start, what an amazing weekend!

The atmosphere was incredible, a super supportive vibe from the organizers and other competitors.

On the Friday night I was crazy nervous. We went to the Pig and Whistle, had a massive steak and salad (which was awesome!), and then settled in for a quiet, early night. Did not sleep much.

Saturday morning was good, as I didn’t have much time to get myself too worked up before the run. I met coach John for a quick chat before the race started. I settled in at the back of the pack, and felt quite relaxed as the cannon sounded. Everything went pretty much to plan, I started out extra slow, and it was very enjoyable, looking around, taking in the sights and smells of Rotorua. Then we hit the hills. And although I had to work hard, I managed to keep jogging, and the feeling of accomplishment that washed over me every time i reached the top of a rise gave my energy a wee boost. I loved the course. I love being off road, and was fortunate to have a few challenging hills at home to train on, so it wasn’t a complete shock to the system.

At about the 12km mark, the chaffing set in…… at that point I just had to put my head down and keep going.

Coming down out of the forest was great, I managed to pick up my pace a bit and cruise down to the main road. The last 3kms were a slog. I was getting sore and tired, but I knew I was almost there. I held on, and managed to finish strong in 2:47:55. Super stoked!

My weary legs were thankful to have a soak in the hot pools at the Polynesian Spa afterwards.

Saturday night we stayed in the Millennium Hotel with an awesome view looking out over the lake. The room was very comfortable, and the buffet breakfast Sunday morning was to die for! Amazing!

The whole experience in Rotorua, and the training/coaching package leading up to the event, was incredible. I am truly honoured to have won this prize, and I feel so much healthier and happier for it. I plan to continue running, and hopefully I will enter another event later in the year. Through this experience, i have found my passion for running again, and for that I am so grateful.

Thank you to all the people/brands that sponsored this prize package, and especially thank you to Jo and Rachel for being so great and organising everything that made my weekend in Rotorua one I will never forget. And a huge huge thank you to my coach John Bowden, who encouraged me and pushed me to achieve my goals. You guys are amazing!


Inspired Health is “run” by Rachel Grunwell: Fitness consultant, yoga teacher, Marathoner X19, writer for Run4YourLife magazine, plus the lifestyle magazine, Good. 


Rachel's Blog Award-winning writer & recipe creator, magazine columnist, wellness ambassador, yoga teacher & multi-marathoner.


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