Phil Costley is running in the Buller Marathon this Saturday. Photo: Barry Whitnall/

Costley after complete set of Buller Marathon titles


One of New Zealand distance running’s most durable performers, Phil Costley, is chasing another milestone in this Saturday’s Buller Marathon.

The Nelson College teacher, who has a staggering 32 national titles to his name, already holds the Buller open half and full marathon and veteran half marathon records, in the popular run through the Buller Gorge to Westport.

On Saturday, he will be aiming to complete the set by attempting to break David Askin’s veteran’s marathon record of 2 hours 29 minutes 16 seconds, set in 1997. “It’s in the back of my mind but I’m pretty relaxed about the whole thing,” Phil says. “It also depends on the day – when you are running 42 kilometres there are so many variables that anything can happen.

“I haven’t done any races for a while so it’s hard to know what sort of shape I’m in as well. I’ll just take in one kilometre at a time and see how we are going.’

Phil’s last race was the Sun Run Marathon in Blenheim in November, which he won in 2hr 32min 41sec.

Although he hasn’t raced since then he says the experience he has gained running “close to 20 marathons” and countless half marathons “counts for a lot at the tough end of the race”.

Although runners usually dread the final stages of a marathon, Phil says the last 10km of the Buller are unique because catching up with the half marathoners “takes your mind off how tired you are feeling”.

“It seems a silly thing to say but you get to 30km and it can get easier.”

Phil is one of 149 runners in the full marathon.

Hope runner Paula Canning will be defending her half marathon title she won last year in 1hr 22min 36.

There will be 868 runners in the half marathon run, 239 in the half marathon walk and 83 relay teams, taking the number of entries to 1825.