Lesley Graham won a marathon on debut in the 2019 Wairarapa Country Marathon. PHOTO/FILE

ATHLETICS

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

There will be a new focus for this year’s Wairarapa Country Marathon, including a change of the start-finish line.

With the postponement of several popular marathons such as the Rotorua and Hawke’s Bay marathons to September because of the covid-19 pandemic, there were doubts that the event hosted by Athletics and Cycling Masterton would be held in October as usual.

However, organiser Richard Hawkes confirmed the marathon, along with the half-marathon, 10km, and 5km races will go ahead on October 11, and ACM was aiming to make the marathon a broader and more inclusive event.

The races have been based at Makoura College for many years but will now start and finish at the ACM clubrooms at the Colin Pugh Sports Bowl. The runners will mainly follow the traditional route of two laps of the Lees-Pakaraka course for the marathon and one lap for the half-marathon.

Hawkes said the 10km and 5km races would be run completely off-road, and the 5km would become a low-cost community run to encourage wider participation.

More than 180 runners and walkers participated in the 2019 races, and Hawkes was hopeful of attracting more competitors.

“This is one of the two big fundraising events for the club. It really helps us provide a varied running and cycling programme throughout the year,” Hawkes said.

Another popular event, often used as a build-up to the marathon, will also proceed as usual. The Life Flight Handicap Half-Marathon will be run from the Belvedere Hall, west of Carterton, on September 26.

The race is open to teams or individual runners and walkers, who race over three laps of a 7km course. Contact organiser Ray Wallis on 377 0703 for entries.

The next race in ACM’s cross-country series will be held on Sunday at Rewanui Forest Park, on the Masterton-Castlepoint Rd. The first wave of walkers and runners will start at 9.50am.