New half marathon to be run on the beach

18:07, Feb 18 2013
From left, crewman Phil Dwyer, Megan Stewart, Senior Constable Jeff McGrath, Lisa Tamati, LandSAR chairman Michael Johns and pilot Stephen Beck gear up for the Mokau Half Marathon in April.
CHOPPER CHALLENGE: From left, crewman Phil Dwyer, Megan Stewart, Senior Constable Jeff McGrath, Lisa Tamati, LandSAR chairman Michael Johns and pilot Stephen Beck gear up for the Mokau Half Marathon in April.

Competitors will have the opportunity to feel the sand between their toes from start to finish in a new half marathon event.

Ultra distance runners Lisa Tamati and Megan Stewart are behind the Mokau Half Marathon, thought to be New Zealand's only 21km beach-run experience.

The April 6 event will also involve 5km and 10km courses and has been developed to raise funds for the Taranaki Community rescue helicopter and LandSAR services.

Tamati said many of her childhood memories revolved around holidays in Mokau, which was the inspiration behind the event's location.

"I think it's the most incredible beach in the country. I've always wanted to have a race up there."

Tamati went for a recreational jog to test the course last weekend and said it would be an incredible experience for anyone who took up the challenge. "It can actually be run in bare feet. I don't know anywhere else where you can run a half marathon in bare feet."

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Although she was a bit tender at the finish, Tamati said the course looked good.

"It's a bit hard, even though it's as flat as a pancake. I was quite a lot slower than I'd do it on the road. There is a bit of soft sand, but it's not diabolically hard."

The course will require half-marathon entrants to cross the Awakino River at the 5km mark, which Tamati said added a bit of variety.

"We're hoping to be able to accommodate any non-swimmers across that part as well.

"We want it to be a good family day out for all sorts of people - it's all for a good cause."

Stewart, a St John paramedic and LandSAR and rescue helicopter volunteer, said funds raised would go towards new communication equipment which would be crucial for future search and rescue operations.

She challenged emergency services and corporate businesses to step up and tackle the run.

"We're keen to get a bit of friendly rivalry going," she said.

Tamati said supporting the rescue helicopter was her way of giving back to a community which had given so much to her.

Helicopter rides would also be available on the day.

Any keen starters can register at www.activeqt.co.nz, or pick up an entry form from Lisa Tamati Designer Jewellery, Liardet St.

They hoped to receive hundreds of entries from all different age groups and abilities.

"You can run, walk, crawl across the finish line - we don't care. We'll stay out there all day until you finish if we have to."

Taranaki Daily News