Dave Heine at the 2014 Rotorua Marathon. ATHLETICS NEW ZEALAND

Red Stag Rotorua Marathon's inaugural winner Dave Heine will return for the 60th anniversary event on 4 May and hopes to participate in the Go Media 10km race.

The 82-year-old retired civil engineer won the 1965 Rotorua Marathon in a time of 2:35:04, almost two and a half minutes ahead of pre-race favourite Viv Donovan. Heine recalls his achievement as an unexpected shock.

"I was more of a middle-distance runner when my coach at the time said it would be good to run the Rotorua Marathon as a training run. I felt pretty good all the way, but to come out on top and win the race was a big surprise," he says.

Raised in Orakei, East Auckland - where he began his running journey as a student at Auckland Grammar School - he later moved to Rotorua as a young engineer with the Ministry of Works in the mid-1960s. With a personal best mile of 4:04 and an Arthur Lydiard-style training regime of 100 miles a week, he was unfazed when his Rotorua Amateur Athletic and Harrier Club coach at the time, Harry Hoddinott, suggested he run the inaugural Rotorua Marathon.

"As I always did a long run on a Sunday anyway and Rotorua was a great place to train, I didn't think about running around the lake, it was a perfect run," explains Heine.

Starting in a field of 16 - 12 would finish the inaugural event - Heine remembers running in a pair of rubber-soled canvas tennis shoes. He caught and overtook Whakatane's Viv Donavan in the final stages and was delighted to find himself in the lead, eventually crossing the line first.

"It almost felt like a local club race as we just finished it like mates with a pat on the back," he adds. Heine called time on his running career shortly afterwards, coming back to Auckland to concentrate on his career as a civil engineer. However, he returned for the 50th anniversary Rotorua Marathon to run the full 42.195km and was amazed at how much the event had grown.

"I can't believe it, it's amazing. Part of its appeal is that it is a loop around the lake, a very natural feature and a very attractive thing. Navigating the hills at the back of the course is another special challenge," he continued. Heine plans to return for the Go Media 10km, 60 years on after his pioneering success and is quietly humbled by its significance today.

"It comes up all the time and it is nice to be reminded of that time. I just remember the great camaraderie I enjoyed with my fellow club-mates at both the Rotorua Harrier club and Onehunga clubs, so many memories," he concluded.