Events

Community Embracing New-Look Marathon

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With some 4000 entries, 200 volunteers and thousands of spectators, the 41st Christchurch Marathon will once again be one of the South Island’s most colourful community occasions bringing together runners and walkers from all walks of life.

 

On April 16th the new-look Frontrunner Christchurch Marathon will go to the start line at a new venue, on a new course and with a new sponsor.

 

While the event will also double as the New Zealand Marathon Championship, for most people it is a personal challenge taken on for as many reasons as there are runners.

 

At age 73, Picton’s Marg Hazelwood is taking a shot at becoming the eldest ever female finisher of the feature 42k distance in Christchurch. Not that it’ll be that big a deal for Hazelwood personally, as Christchurch will be her 111th marathon.

 

Christchurch’s Beverly Buist is down for the 10k Walk and says, “I like to keep my fitness up and feel the pleasure of a medal around my neck.” But at age 80 she is currently the eldest entrant.

Age doesn’t appear to affect motivation. The youngest entrant in the full marathon is 17-year-old Maya Edmondson from Fairlie trying her first foray over the classic 42.2k. Rookies across all distances is a common theme, but there are a select few who just cannot stop. Australian Lester Smith is aiming for his 211th marathon and this will be his 20th time at Christchurch.

 

No one, however, has a Christchurch streak like Pegasus resident, Ian Lennie. The 73-year-old will be lining up for the half marathon for a record 38th consecutive year and says his only goal is “to keep going as long as he can.”

 

Race Director, Chris Cox, knows something about longevity. He once finished third in the Christchurch Marathon and has been organising it since 199.

 

“I’ve always felt the greatest thing about this event is that it’s a true representation of the community,” says Cox.  It brings together different people from different walks of life with different motivations for why they run.”

 

It helps that the iconic route is one of New Zealand’s most scenic and supportive courses. Although, in 2023 it is receiving a serious make-over.

 

The famously flat, fast and scenic course will condense itself to a much more central city vibe. Gone is the tired redzone, replaced with more spectator opportunities and more iconic landmarks, with Canterbury Museum, Cambridge Terrace and Oxford Terrace added to the popular Hagley Park and Avon River sections.

 

Based now within Hagley Park, the event will revolve around a 10.5k lap that stays closer to the CBD.

 

“This new course is iconically Christchurch and probably the most spectator friendly in the country,” says Cox.

 

After a tough time during covid-19, Cox is pleased to finally launch the new look event. “We’ve been planning this for a while,” he says, “but covid cancellations in 2020 and 2022 held us back. So it’s great to finally get to the start line.”

 

Every participant, however, has their own motivation behind the challenge they face on Sunday. Many run for charities. In 2023 the official charity partner is the Mental Health Foundation.

 

Race day for the 2023 Frontrunner Christchurch Marathon is Sunday 16th April. Entries are still open at www.christchurchmarathon.co.nz.

 

 

 

 

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