Thursday, 21 January 2021


Whitianga Half Marathon living up to expectations

Last Saturday’s Whitianga Half Marathon was promoted as being a “fast and flat scenic loop.” The event certainly lived up to the expectations of the record number of entrants who took part and was exceeded even further by being held in perfect weather conditions. 

The event catered for both runners and walkers and drew a healthy mix of highly competitive to the more social competitors. Regardless of fitness levels, there was little doubt it was the flat and scenic part of the billing that was the big attraction for most. 

A combined total of around 1,200 runners and walkers, many of whom were returning from last year’s inaugural event, ran or walked the half marathon distance of 21km or took up the alternative distances of 10km or 5km.

All three distances used the pathway along Buffalo Beach with its picturesque views of Mercury Bay with an 8km around town loop added for the 10km and 21km (two laps) distances. There was also a short beach sprint held for children.

While event organizer, Kelly Simmonds, was extremely pleased with the way things ran on the day, the best judges were those out there doing the business pounding the pathways and roads. Without exception, it was high-fives and praise all round for Kelly and her team, with special mention given to the effort put into marshalling the course and the road management systems in place.

“We had around 100 more entries than last year with a huge range of ages across the board,” says Kelly. “The course and the distances offered were designed to encourage everyone to come and have a go regardless of ability. Participation and enjoyment were the key motivators for us in putting the event together and we saw plenty of happy faces at the finish line which, for us, was mission accomplished. With a number of out-of-towners taking part also, the financial spin offs this event has for the wider community should not be underestimated either.”       

With last year’s event being the peg in the ground for the organisers, a number of positive improvements and changes were introduced this year. The addition of a prize-giving with heaps of spot prizes attracted a lot of compliments and was extremely well supported by local business.

Popular radio hosts Andy George and Michelle Shaw from More FM were on stage at the prize-giving to hand out the many random spot prizes on offer. They were ably assisted by well-known personality, Dom Harvey, who also took part in the half marathon run.

The big spot prize on offer was a three-day cruise from You travel in Whitianga valued at $1,200.

Tairua based Matt Kerr, the winner of the men’s half marathon in a very respectable time of 01:16:14, was very impressed with the marshalling this year. Last year, the 27-year-old ended up drifting off course and ended up finishing well down the field. “I obviously loved the run more this year and it was great to see the organisers had made changes to improve things for the lead runners especially,” says Matt.

The women’s half marathon winner in another impressive time of 01:27:14, was 46-year-old Kirsten Milner from Hamilton, who was running the event for the first time. “A great event and well done to the organisers, sponsors and officials,” says Kirsten.

A well-deserved soak at The lost Spring on Sunday helped Kelly - a former Whitianga local, who’s now living with her family in Napier - to recover from a stressful few days leading up to the event. “There is a huge amount of time that goes into an event like this and it couldn’t be done without all the help from the many volunteers who helped out,” says Kelly. “A special thanks goes out to Suzanne Cook and Diane Eccles for their unwavering support and endless hours spent over a long period of time.”

Rest up Kelly, there are many people out there who are looking forward to 2020.

The Whitianga Half Marathon was sponsored by - The Lost Spring, New World Whitianga, Guthrie Bowron Whitianga, The Whitianga Hotel, The Mercury Bay Informer, Whitianga Waterways, More FM and Coast 2 Coast Building Services.

Spot prizes were provided by - Glass Bottom Boat, Civic Style Homewares, Bedpost, Stirling Sports, Mainly Casual, Paper Plus, Harcourts, Stephensons Pharmacy, Stilo Design, Dive Zone, That Curry Place, Frankies Sports Bar & Grill, Salt Restaurant & Bar, Fagans Furniture Beds & Homeware, The Harbour House Café, Buffalo Beach Four Square, Mercury Bay Pharmacy, Stoked, Enigma, Rebecca Deadman - Arbonne Consultant, 100% Appliances, The French Fig, Z Service Station, Subway, The Glass House, Whitianga Sports, Mico Plumbing, Gull Service Station, The Vessel Cook Beach, Hula Café, Espy Café and Hammer Hardware.

Pictured: Mercury Bay local, Andrew Selby (right) and his friend, Johnny Robust, walked the 10km distance in last Saturday’s Whitianga Half Marathon.


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