This year’s Marathon was beset by a combination of COVID delays, and unseasonal spring weather. Originally scheduled for the end of May, the event had to be postponed until last weekend, where we had a cold front moving through the upper North Island. Friday’s blustery rain no doubt dampened the enthusiasm of the 80% of competitors that would traditionally have travelled to Whitianga to compete in the event. In spite of everything, there were still in excess of 900 competitors lined up to compete in this year’s Whitianga Marathon. Their faith was justified. He rain held off, the wind abated, and by prize giving the weather was comfortably warm again.
At least a part of the success of the marathon is the mix of classes and events within the marathon, making it accessible for people of all ages and abilities. There are marathons, half-marathons, track-and-trail and walking events, ranging from 5km walk to the full 46 Km marathon. The oldest competitor at this years’ event was 83, the youngest person across the finish line came across in a push-chair!
There were also several families and groups running together. Jared and Jo Bowden crossed the finish line together, making Jo the winner of the Women’s Track and Trail event, and Jared placed third in the Men’s race. There was also a notably a large contingent of people competing to raise money for mental health charity “I Am Hope,” in honour of local man Taylor Kite who died earlier this year.
Based on feedback, routes and scheduling are being redesigned ahead of next year’s event, which will return to schedule late May 2023.
Caption: It’s 8:40am and Tom Mackenzie (left) and Diego Mieres make their way off the ferry and out onto the remainder of the Marathon course. Tom Mackenzie ultimately claimed first in the Men’s Track and Trail event, while Diego claimed first place in the Men’s Marathon event, with a time of 3:17.
Gabriela Diver putting one foot over the line to take out the Women’s Marathon this year, in a time of 3:32.
Families don’t just make up the support crew, many of them joined in for some part of the race. Here’s Sergio Calderon and his daughters jubilant across the finish line.
The family that plays together … here’s Jared and Jo Bowden on the finishing line of the Track and Trail event. Jo won the Women’s event, and Jared placed third in the Men’s race.
Kaley Crawford-Flett showing some of the winning style that saw her take out first prize in the Women’s Half Marathon.