Marathon returning to Central City Christchurch after quake
It’s official … the new-look Christchurch Airport Marathon is under starter’s orders for Sunday 31st May, back within Christchurch’s four avenues on a new course that promises to re-invigorate both the event and the central city.
In 2011, the Christchurch Marathon suffered the same earthquake effects as much of Christchurch. For three decades it had been the South Island’s premier marathon event, but the February 2011 quake wrecked the traditional Town Hall venue and iconic course - 30 years of history ruined in 30 seconds.
In the five years since, the marathon organisers have rallied around, pulling together alternative courses in Lincoln for 2011 and then at Christchurch Airport for the past three years.
“There was never a question of the event not going ahead,” says race Director Chris Cox. “The Christchurch Marathon event means too much to too many people to just disappear, but the time has come now for the marathon to return to the city, where it belongs.”
For the first time ever the event will be based in Cathedral Square, with the event village, start and finish line all based in the iconic central city hub.
“It will be a really nice course,” says Cox. “It will be safe, scenic, flat and fast; the hallmarks of the Christchurch Marathon. But most importantly, it’s iconically Christchurch, showcasing landmarks like Cathedral Square, Canterbury Museum, Hagley Park, Oxford Terrace and the Avon River.
Spectators haven’t been forgotten. “It is really easy for spectators to see race several times within a kilometre of Cathedral Square,” says Cox. “The course also passes through residential areas where we hope to see the city’s residents cheering as the Christchurch Marathon runs past their letter boxes.”
The format for race day remains exactly the same, featuring the classic 42.2k marathon distance, the 21.1k half marathon, as well as the 10k and the Kids’ Mara’Fun. An earlier start time of 8:30am is designed to reduce traffic issues, although Cox points out that an extensive consultation process is being worked through.
“We quite literally knocked on the door of every business and resident on the course, as well as sending them information documenting how the event might affect them. Everyone knows traffic movement on race day will be impacted, but we have openly spelled out the planning in place and given them timelines surrounding race day and we’re working with the Christchurch City Council to ensure all traffic management requirements are addressed.
Cox says a large part of the support for the event is that people see the Christchurch Airport Marathon as a reflection of their community.
“When I took over organising the Christchurch Marathon, previous race director Brian Taylor told me the main goal should be for the event to reflect the community and benefit that community. Brian was the Chairman of the Christchurch Marathon Trust when he died tragically in the CTV building during the February 2011 earthquake. We want to honour his memory by honouring his advice.”
Christchurch Airport Chief Executive Malcolm Johns says the airport’s intention in sponsoring the event was to underpin an event which is important to the city, to enable entrants to come here for fun and achievement and locals to support their family, friends and city. “We have enjoyed hosting the event around the airport campus for the past three years, but endorse its return to the central city. I hope new runners and walkers sign up this year because a record number of entrants would be a great way to reclaim the central city course.”
Entries for the 2015 Christchurch Airport Marathon are now open.