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Last-minute Surge For Round The Bays

A last-minute surge in registrations saw today’s Southern Cross Round the Bays, as more than 27,000 people took part in New Zealand’s largest fun run.

Runners, joggers, walkers and many in wheelchairs took to the 8.4km course around Tamaki Makaurau Auckland’s waterfront on mass, with more than 6,000 signing up in the past week alone.

“It’s fantastic to see the crowds, the colour and the energy. Even the rain couldn’t put a dampener on the high spirits with people out doing what they love, and the atmosphere was epic,” Henry McLernon, Round the Bays event director, says.

Participants came from across the motu, as well as the US, UK, Sweden and Australia, and included all ages and fitness stages. For some it was a health goal, for others it was a celebration of overcoming a medical challenge – including cancer treatment and strokes. Others were literally following in the footsteps of their parents who had pounded the pavement with them in a pram, now taking their babies along Tāmaki Drive.

“Round the Bays is iconic and resonates with so many people – and the ages range from babies through to people in their eighties and nineties, there are a handful who have almost every year of its 53 years, through to people doing it for the first time.”

Round the Bays has introduced festival-style themes this year, and launched with “wai” – with many dressing up in watery costumes, including para-athlete Jaden Movold sporting a shark suit, and Round the Bays wheelchair regular Lee Warn rocking a lobster costume.

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“It was great to see so many people dressed up and embracing the new theming.”

While more than half of the crowd were walking the course, for some it is an elite event. Such was the scale of Round the Bays that before all the walkers had started in the CBD, the first wheelchair racer was across the finishline.

Para-athlete Jaden Movold complete with shark costume, conquered the 8.4kms in 19.31. The first wheelchair female was Gabrielle Wright at 25.47.

The first male runner was Cameron Graves, with a time of 24.35, shaving 37 seconds off his 2023 time of 25.12, and setting a new course record. He beat last year’s record holder, Jacob Priddey, by seven seconds. The first female was Georgie Grgec with a time of 26.17. Last year Clara Lachurie achieved it in 30:36.

Madill’s Farm hosted almost 10,000 people at corporate and team hospitality sites. This year’s largest team was Fletchers with almost 1,000 people.

Over the course of the coming week, several hundred more people are expected to take part in Southern Cross Round the Bays Virtual – the app tracks participants as if they are on the course, meaning it can be done from anywhere in the world.

As well as working on their own health, participants this year helped to improve the health of the ocean. The official charity for Southern Cross Round the Bays 2024 was Live Ocean, that receives $25,000, plus a $25,000 advertising package from Stuff.

As part of its 50-plus year legacy, Round the Bays has committed $50,000 over five years for its Youth Sports Fund. This year $10,000 was awarded to YMCA North.

Overall, Round the Bays helped raise more than $255,000 for nearly 100 charities this year.

McLernon added, “From humble beginnings in the 1970s, this has grown into a much-loved event. People have so many memories of the times they have done Round the Bays and it’s a legacy we are proud to be part of.”

Fastest wheelchairs

Jaden Movold 19.31

Gabby Wright 25.47

Lee Warn 25.48

Fastest males

Cameron Graves 25.58

Joel Bickers 25.58

Gavin Eccles 26.17

Fastest females

Georgie Grgec 26.55

Brigid Doherty 28.33

Katrina Andrew 28.42

© Scoop Media

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