New Zealand’s latest Alert Level changes left fans of the country’s largest fun run disappointed when Ports of Auckland Round the Bays had to be cancelled only hours before it was due to start.
But in an ultimate COVID pivot, organisers have created a way for Kiwis to come together as a team, while apart, with the first-ever Ports of Auckland Round the Bays’ virtual fun run – Round the Backyard.
“We didn’t want to disappoint the tens of thousands of people signed up to take part, so we are launching a virtual event that people can do anywhere in New Zealand – indeed from anywhere in the world,” says Henry McLernon, Round the Bays event director.
“Our ethos is to put the fun in fun run, so doing one of Auckland’s most iconic events on your own, yet simultaneously with thousands of people anywhere in the world, will be something to tick off your bucket list.”
All participants registered for Round the Bays will automatically be signed up for the virtual event. And Round the Backyard is also open to anyone who wasn’t already registered. They can take part in an 8.4km walk, jog or run wherever they are, from anywhere in the world, within a three-day window. All participants need is a smartphone and to complete the course in one session between 6am on March 12 and 9pm March 14 (NZ time).
Round the Backyard will have live leaderboards, an interactive course map, social sharing, and participant places and paces, in real-time.
“The feedback we received after we had to cancel on Sunday was incredibly supportive, so we think Kiwis will embrace this the same way they do Round the Bays – whether they aim to beat their personal best or do it in fancy dress.
“We don’t want COVID-19 to burst our bubble, so even if you have to be in yours, you can still do Round the Bays in your own backyard. Let’s all come together, and go the distance, even if we have to stay apart.”
Virtual events have become increasingly popular around the world, even before the global response to the Coronavirus. The New York Marathon is hosting its third online event this year, and social distancing in Australia has resulted in Sydney’s City2Surf being a virtual event too.
Round the Bays is a significant fundraiser for charities across the country. Auckland City Mission is the charity partner for Round the Bays 2021. In addition to the $60,000 cash donation made by Round the Bays, $10 from each new virtual registration will go to help fund the charity’s vital work.
Those who were registered for Round the Bays who do not want to take part in the inaugural virtual version, can opt out for a 50% refund.
New registrations will be $25 (12-18 years) and $40 (19+). For more details go to roundthebays.co.nz