Marathon woman Lesley Turner Hall will be lining up at the start line of the BOC Handigas Falefa Falls Run next week on January 30. She will run the 10km distance. It will be the shortest race she will run in a very long time. It is all a part of a maintenance plan while awaiting double surgery on a troublesome hamstring and a hip labral tear.
The dual injuries have put a hold on what has been until four years ago, a stellar running career. Then, in 2012 at her peak and reaching her 40th birthday, Lesley set out to run twenty-two races that year. She won fourteen of them.
The races included six marathons of which she won four. She won the DUAL off-road marathon (5th overall), the T42 off road marathon (8th overall), the Arthur Lydiard road marathon and the Waihi off-road marathon. She then had identical times of 3:01:00 at the Wellington and Rotorua marathons where she finished second and sixth respectively.
Other races she won that year include the 31km run around Rarotonga not to mention the 34km Hillary Trail race in the Waitakere Ranges where Lesley blitzed the women’s field and finished second overall, only the men’s winner was ahead of her in a 300 strong field. She also won the entire XTERRA off-road long-course (21-23km) series for women, winning all 8 races and claimed her second title in the 33km Coastal Challenge from Army Bay, Whangaparaoa to Devonport in Auckland.
Photo / Scottie T Photography
She is a machine, when fully fit. When asked about the best part about running, she was quick with a quip as she is on her feet, “Outrunning the guys, that is the best part.”
In the traditional marathon, Lesley has run a total of 42 races in her life, winning four, a not so co-incidental number considering there are 42kms in a marathon race. Her personal best time (PB) is 2:51:52 at the 2007 Rotorua Marathon. Her PB for the Half Marathon is 1:21:13 at the Huntly Half Marathon also in 2007, a time that is about the same as our men’s record in the Half Marathon. Lesley’s full marathon PB is 20mins faster than our men’s national record (Tueffy Tuigamala, Auckland Marathon 2013, 3:12:13).
It is easy to see why many in the N.Z. running circles refer to Lesley as “the legend”. She has well and truly earned the applause. Not that she seeks it, she just loves action. Her friends refer to her also as the Canadian Energiser Bunny, and Fit Chick, all true to person.
And like all good products, there is more. Lesley has completed nine full Ironman races and a host of Half Iron events. Her fastest full IM race was in Taupo a year ago where she clocked 11:07:19 for the 226km race. That time, the age groupers will tell you, is a very good one, for a part timer.
Lesley is no full time athlete though, she has a Monday to Friday job, and works a minimum of 40hrs each week. Professionally, she is a Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH), a sought after one too. Lesley works out of Queen Street Dental in downtown Auckland.
She has been there ever since emigrating to N.Z. from her native Canada in 2001. Her service of fourteen years for the same employer is twice as long as the industry average of seven years. She is a legend there too, where she is booked out solid for six months ahead. She sees seven to eight patients a day in one-hour block appointments where she is full-on scaling and taking care of her patient’s teeth, and teaching good oral health. She is loved by many who have become her life-long friends and she is passionate about her profession in the same way she tackles her sporting passion, full on and with enthusiasm.
“I absolutely love my job and taking care of my patients teeth and their oral health. It keeps them from the dentist’s chair and those expensive fillings and painful extractions. I love creating healthy smiles one Kiwi at a time.”
“I treated teenagers that are now parents themselves and I am now looking after their kids teeth. That is just amazing.”
“I have one patient that I have seen since she was four, now she is 19yrs old and a successful New York model and I’m still treating her.”
As if that is not enough, Lesley has served on the executive of her Association for a number of years including time as the Chairman of the Auckland Branch for the New Zealand Dental Hygienists Association. She is currently the Editor for the NZDHA, a busy role with 500 members around the country.
So why Samoa?
Lesley came to the Samoa Swim Series last year with friends. Like many athletes that attend Samoa Events races, it was her first time in the country and she liked the place, and loved the event.
She wrote after the Series, “I loved Samoa and I love the Samoa Swim Series. Best racing event ever and I’ve competed around the world in many Ironman and marathon events. Samoa Swim Series is just so special. It has captured my heart.”
“I plan on attending a few more of Seti’s races over the next two years as they are amazing events in their own right.”
“I am looking forward to the 10km run at Falefa. The hills will be tough on my hamstring injury and whilst I am nowhere near my full fitness, this was a great opportunity to return to Samoa and to do some running here.”
Lesley has not run a marathon in almost a year, apart from the Ironman marathon in Taupo in March and the T42 off trail marathon in May. This time last year she was also preparing to race in the Everest Marathon two weeks after the T42 race, but the Nepal earthquake in the same month cancelled that event much to her disappointment.
Then the injuries kept niggling away to the point that sorting out the body became the priority. Double surgery is planned for early May followed by six months of recovery.
She has definite goals ahead of her, one is to qualify for Kona Triathlon World Championships. She reckons she will do that in 2017. With injury, her training is limited to short runs of 5-16kms. She is currently running every day just to keep things in motion and her body somewhere near race mode.
“In a way, my life has been on hold for four to five years with the injuries, but I am still running and doing something everyday.”
“I am really looking forward to running the 10km at Falefa, and if things work out with my recovery after the surgery, I might even be back for Swim Series in August.”
Lesley is the only outsider to enter the opening race of the Season. The Falefa run on January 30 is part of an eight race series that leads to the inaugural Savaii Marathon in April.
The race is popular with local runners for its scenery and amazing run course. Anyone can enter. There are four distances: 10km, 6km and 4km in the scenic Falefa Bay on the road towards Sauano and Saletele. It starts and finishes at the Falefa Falls Bridge, where registration will also be held from early morning.