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SBS Marathon Spreading The Word

SBS Marathon Spreading The Word

The SBS Marathon Event took its inspiration from one of the greatest marathons in history. Now it is hoping to inspire a relationship with one of the world’s greatest marathons.

It has been more than 25 years since the 1974 Commonwealth Games marathon. But that great race, where Great Britain’s Ian Thompson ran what was then the second fastest marathon of all time (2:09.12), and New Zealand’s 41 year old Jack Foster ran what was then the fastest ever by a New Zealander (2:11:18), continues to inspire runners and walkers of all age and ability.

Every year on Queens Birthday Weekend more than 4000 people from all ends of the country and the world gather in Christchurch to run over the flat, fast, scenic and historic route. Participants still follow much of the historic Commonwealth Games course, but based now in downtown Christchurch, with the start/finish line amidst the café, casino, shopping and accommodation districts, the SBS Marathon Event has become a popular mid-winter getaway for runners and walkers from all ends of New Zealand and across the world.

In 2007 runners from nine countries lined up outside the Christchurch Town Hall. This year the Christchurch Marathon Trust, Christchurch Songpa-Gu Sister City Committee and Christchurch City Council have been working hard to add Korea to that list.

Organisers have been working with the Seoul Peace Marathon to establish a sister-race relationship that could lead to much closer ties and tourism benefits between the two cities and countries. “Marathon running is hugely popular among Asian countries,” says SBS Marathon race director, Chris Cox. “We thought because of Christchurch’s appeal to Asian travellers that the SBS Marathon would be a perfect reason for them to travel here.”

Cox hopes to one day attract the sort of Asian entries that Australia’s Gold Coast Marathon receives, where airlines fly in literal planeloads for the event. “Obviously that’s a way off,” says Cox. “But we have taken the first steps already in starting to promote the event in Asia, in particular in Korea, where the Seoul Peace Marathon has shown a lot of interest in the sister-race concept.”

Indeed, the SBS Marathon could see an influx of Korean runners as early as this year’s event on June 1. Early initiatives include a delegation from Korea travelling to this year’s event, while a feature of this year’s SBS Marathon Event will be a random prize draw for two free trips to October’s Seoul Peace Marathon, which typically attracts around 15,000 starters.

Cox says the two events have a lot in common. “The SBS Marathon event is based around that historic 1974 Commonwealth Games route, while the Seoul Peace Marathon is based around the route of the 1988 Seoul Olympic marathon,” he says, but then adds that the greatest similarity is the community impact.

“First and foremost both of these events are huge community occasions,” he says. We both have various options, like full marathon, half marathon and 10k so that all age and ability and experience feel welcome. We’ll be interested to see what the Korean visitors will think about our SBS Kid’s Mara’Fun, because this is quite unique in New Zealand for a major event.”

Early indications are that the Koreans will be impressed. With less than six weeks until the June 1 race date, entries are ahead of the same time in 2007, and include runners from the USA, Australia, Japan, Korea and the UK, and Cox is confident of another record field of more than 4000 starters. For more details and to enter online: www.sbsmarathon.co.nz.

ENDS

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