Courageous 10-year-old Isabella Powell will set nearly 50,000 runners in motion tomorrow, when she leads the countdown to start Auckland’s iconic Round the Bays fun run.
This year has drawn a record crowd to the waterfront, as the 8.4km event enters its 42nd year.
Touted as one of the world’s largest fun runs, it started out in 1972 as a Auckland Joggers Club fundraiser with 1200 participants.
Tomorrow 35,000 registered runners are expected to be joined and encouraged by thousands of others and head for St Heliers, from the start in down town Auckland on Quay St.
Isabella was born with cystic fibrosis and a blocked intestine. She will lead the countdown then walk the race, supported by her parents and older sisters.
She has a twice daily routine of physiotherapy and nebulised antibiotics, which she fits in between dance classes, hockey or on the way to the skifields.
Her courage was hailed by Fairfax Media managing director Simon Tong, whose company has been involved with the run for the past 25 years.
Some $150,000 would be donated to seven charities, one of them Cystic Fibrosis New Zealand. This was up $50,000 on last year and helped by an increase in entry prices.
In the past decade, Fairfax Media had donated $1.5 million to charities supporting the health of Auckland children, Tong said.
The event is co-organised by the Auckland Joggers club and Fairfax Media, publisher of stuff.co.nz.
Others charities to benefit are Crohns and Colitis New Zealand, Radio Lollipop, Kidsline, The Hearing House, Raukatauri Music therapy and Fairfax First Books. Fairfax media marketing director Campbell Mitchell said for the first time runners were able to raise additional money for a charity of their choice, resulting in another $60,000 already being raised.
‘‘The Round the Bays is one of the few events to commit to a donation before the race and this year we have increased our commitment from $100,000 to $150,000 in addition to the donations raised directly by runners.
Mitchell said Fairfax was committed to investing in the future of what was an ‘‘iconic fun run for family, friends and teams of work mates’’.