Marathon shifts to cooler date

JOHN ALEXANDER
Last updated 11:30 04/12/2012

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Despite the third version of the Marlborough Marathon being a huge success and attracting a record field on Saturday, organisers are changing the date for 2013.

Next year's race is scheduled for Sunday, October 27, during Labour Weekend.

Pete Halligan, spokesman for Top of the South Events, which organises the race, explained the reasons behind the change and said the move was based strongly on feedback organisers had received during the past two years from competitors.

Halligan said, "The heat was a factor in December. We were fortunate to have a cool morning on Saturday but it can get hot at that time of the year.

"It's also a bit close to Christmas for some people, especially those travelling here. The new date makes it easier and encourages people from out of town, because it's a long weekend."

He said that having to register on Friday for the last three events meant visitors had to take at least an extra day off work.

"Lots of people have said to us ‘have you thought about changing the date and having it earlier?'. It's a bit of an experiment and we think it will be positive."

Two things that won't change are the course and the start/finish and aftermatch area at Villa Maria Estate in New Renwick Rd.

There were a record 1100 entrants taking part in Saturday's event, contesting the various categories and age groups, ranging from the full 42.2km marathon and the half-marathon down to a 2km kids' fun run. It is now one of the biggest sporting events in Marlborough annually and most of those competing on Saturday were visitors, including athletes from 12 different countries.

Blenheim women Michelle Harris, who featured in Friday's race preview in The Marlborough Express, successfully completed her first marathon and in the main thoroughly enjoyed the experience, clocking a respectable 3hr 58min 45sec to finish third in her 40-49 years age group.

Speaking afterwards, Harris said, "I'm really stoked. The last 5k's was all a bit hard and I was getting a bit emotional. At 30k's I felt fantastic and, coming off the Wrekin at 37k's, really good. That's when it gets to people.

"I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would."

She had the company of her father, noted Marlborough Harrier Club runner Rab Rodger, on his mountainbike and his encouragement helped, she said. "Dad asked me if I was all right about the 39km mark. I said ‘no, not really'. He said ‘only 3k's to go'. That's a long way but we got there."

Harris said she was definitely keen to do it all again next year and might even do another one in between. "The Gold Coast Marathon in July might be the next one. We'll see."

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The other Marlborough woman featuring in Friday's preview attempting her first marathon, Cara Shirley, was also successful, completing the gruelling challenge in 5:32:39.

- The Marlborough Express

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