The oldest marathon in the Southern Hemisphere has undergone a facelift, with a new look and a new name.
The Ascot Park Hotel Southland Marathon is now the Ascot Park Hotel Southland Festival of Running, incorporating the Southland marathon, half marathon, McDermotts Coachlines 10km and The Southland Times 150 Years 5km events.
Sport Southland events manager Matt Sillars said the change was designed to move the focus to the range of distance options available.
"We felt that, in the past, there has been perhaps too much focus on the marathon part of the event but – as we saw last year – some of the most popular distance options were the 10km and the half marathon," he said.
"It really is a festival of running and we’d encourage all Southlanders to embrace that this year and take their pick from the distances available."
Last year's event attracted more than 600 competitors across the four distances, the highest turnout since the 100-year anniversary of the event in 2009. This year's event will be held on Sunday November 11 and entries are open online.
"We like to get the entries open early so that people can have that extra motivation over winter. Once they’ve entered, it just adds that extra incentive to get out the door and go for a run," Sillars said.
Athletics Southland manager Lance Smith said the re-branding made sense. "It always has been a festival of running, and includes a number of events – not just the marathon," he said.
"Hopefully more people will now accept the challenge and support what is Southland’s premier running event."
Smith said numbers participating in harriers this winter were solid if not slightly increased on last year.
"There are a number of enthusiastic people participating in the sport and there are a number of social runners using the harriers season as a winter build-up to help them work towards events like the Ascot Park Hotel Southland Festival of Running," he said.
"That will pay dividends for them – the more you do the better you will handle it on the day.”
And Smith had some important advice for those looking for a race to aim for: “Get in now and commit yourself,” he said.
Entries can be made online and manual entries will be available soon at Sport Southland and Allan White Sports.
- © Fairfax NZ News