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Bridges Run Gears Up For ‘06

Bridges Run Gears Up For ‘06

Round the Bridges is back for 2006 and organisers are hoping for a big one.

This Sunday November 5th will see over 2000 people congregate in Garden Place, ready to take part in the 62nd annual Budget Tyres Round the Bridges run. Not many 62 year olds could claim to be that popular, but the race has been going from strength to strength in recent years.

The corporate challenge looks to be as competitive as ever this year, with $1200 in prizes up for grabs. Team Opus won both corporate categories last year and again look to be the team to beat. A few corporate teams have taken on the challenge in style, with the University of Waikato entering 125 staff members and IAG Insurance 130. As for individuals to watch, past winner Nyla Carrol (Auckland) is a confirmed starter, as is Gabrielle O’Rourke (Wellington). Prizes on offer include $4000 in merit prizes and $9000 in spot prizes.

There has also been extensive interest in the primary and intermediate 2 km race, with over 300 entrants so far. Race director Graham Dudfield says this is already up on last year, and suspects it’s partly due to the novelty of the course. “Kids get really excited at being able to run down the main street.”

Dudfield says he’s hoping to develop a distinctive culture for the event where people can take part and enjoy the atmosphere afterwards, similar to events like Round The Bays. “There will be entertainment and music, and people can relax in nearby cafés.”

1850 entries have been received so far, and organisers expect over 2500. Late entries will be accepted on race morning up to half an hour before the start.

For the first time, all results will be published in the Waikato Times after the race. Entrants will be timed with RFID transponder system incorporated in the race number, with antenna built into finish arch. This system has been developed by Graham Dudfield and software developed by Jesse Read, a Computer Studies (Hons) graduate.

The Budget Tyres Round The Bridges run is the biggest event of its kind in the Waikato, and attracts runners from all over New Zealand. The race takes in five of Hamilton’s central bridges – Cobham, Victoria, Claudelands, Whitiora and Fairfield – over 12 scenic kilometres, and starts and finishes in the centre of town on Victoria Street. Competitors enjoy the experience of following in the footsteps of past winners such as Peter Snell, Lorraine Moller and Barry Magee, and the course is particularly spectator friendly. This year, money raised from the event goes to the McKenzie Centre for Children with Special Needs.

The Round The Bridges website is http://www.coolrunning.co.nz/races/bridges/ .

Some Round The Bridges history:

Early in 1944 the Hamilton Harrier Club decided that there should be a road race in Hamilton each year, to enable the Waikato public to see top New Zealand athletes in action. A trophy for the winner of the race was presented by Hamilton Hardware Company in memory of two of their staff killed in World War II - The Allan Bloore & Don Millar Trophy.

Seniors and juniors ran together in the first race from Hamilton East Post Office, across the Victoria Bridge, Victoria Street, Fairfield Bridge, River Road, Bridge Street and Grey Street, finishing in Wellington Street at the junction with Firth Street. 20 starters. Arthur Lydiard was 3rd in the event.

The following year (1945), the race was lengthened to 7 1/2 miles and the start was moved to the Hamilton Post Office in Victoria Street. The race was marred by a train crossing Victoria Street as the leaders approached. The two front runners jumped over a flat wagon but the next four were held up.

In 1947 the course was again changed to a circuit from Victoria Street to Fairfield Bridge, River Road, Clarkin Road, Peachgrove Road, Clyde Street, Victoria Bridge and back to the start line in Victoria Street. This course remained until 1975, and it was sometimes run clockwise, sometimes anti-clockwise.

In 1975 the course start/finish was moved to Memorial Drive but was again brought back to Victoria Street when past sponsor WEL Networks took up the sponsorship in 1995. As numbers were very low WEL Networks decided that the run should be more appealing to a greater majority of the community. That is why the new events were introduced. The 6.3km walk/run, the 12km walk/run and Business House Teams along with inviting Secondary, Intermediate and Primary Schools to participate in teams. WEL lifted the profile of the run over the years which have increased the number of participants and sponsors. The current sponsor for the event is Budget Tyres.

Great names from the past in athletics in New Zealand have won the trophy. Norm Ambler (1947), Laurie King (1949/53/54/56), Bill Baillie (1958), George Hoskins (1950/51/52), Dick Chase (1960/61/62), Barry Magee (1957/63), Peter Snell (1959), John Davies (1965), Mike Ryan (1967), Dick Quax (1968), John Robinson (1970), John Dixon (1977), Lorraine Moller (1976), Valerie Robinson 1966/67/69/72/75), Diane Roger (1982/87), Nyla Carroll (1999), and a number of those listed above also won as juniors earlier.

Other named runners have continued to dominate the event over the years.


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