Rac­ing through the years

Hamilton Press - - FRONT PAGE - KELLEY TANTAU

It’s 1984. He­len Hall-King waits at the start­ing line of Hamil­ton’s Round the Bridges.

The race is less than 40 years old. Hall-King is in her 20s.

She races along­side 30-or-so other women, pre­par­ing to com­plete the 4km cir­cuit.

Now 33 years later, Hall-King is months away from com­pet­ing in the same race.

Es­tab­lished in 1945 by the Hamil­ton Har­rier Club, now known as Hamil­ton City Hawks, Lug­ton’s Round The Bridges started out as a road race de­signed to show­case some of the coun­try’s top ath­letes.

Through­out its seven decades, the race has adapted into what it is known for to­day: a com­mu­nity event for all ages and abil­i­ties.

That’s the big­gest change, Hall-King said.

When she first com­peted the women’s cir­cuit was 4km. Now it is 12km.

‘‘When it was first in­sti­gated, it was more a se­ri­ous, com­pet­i­tive race. It was a pres­ti­gious race.

‘‘We’re try­ing to keep the com­pet­i­tive side be­cause that’s the his­tory and the ba­sis of what the race was.’’

The mod­i­fi­ca­tions were made in the early ‘90s, when the num­ber of en­trants was be­gin­ning to dwin­dle.

‘‘There were not as many par­tic­i­pants, and it was very com­pet­i­tive, whereas now it’s more aimed at fun and fam­i­lies,’’ Hall-King said.

‘‘It’s gone from com­pet­i­tive to fun. It’s try­ing to em­brace sport. It’s good for ev­ery­body to get in­volved.’’

It’s a pleas­ant sur­prise to Hall-King then, that last year’s event saw around 6000 run­ners par­tic­i­pate.

‘‘It’s good to see all the peo­ple out there do­ing ex­er­cise. I’m a big be­liever in peo­ple do­ing stuff.’’

Hall-King, 54, has been in­volved with the Hamil­ton City Hawks for 40 years.

She works at Lug­tons - the new spon­sors for Round the Bridges - and was the link be­tween the two groups con­nect­ing.

They will be par­tic­i­pat­ing in the race this year, and have en­cour­aged friendly com­pe­ti­tion among their other of­fices.

Hall-King is still an avid run­ner. She runs five times a week and swims one day a week.

She re­cently par­tic­i­pated in the Cam­bridge Half Marathon, where she crossed the line first in her age group and fourth over­all, with a time of 45 min­utes for 10km.

Reg­is­tra­tion is now open for Round the Bridges, and in­cludes a 2km Kids Chal­lenge, 6km/ 12km Fun Run/Walk, 12km Cor­po­rate Chal­lenge and a rein­tro­duc­tion of a 12km race de­signed for the se­ri­ous run­ners.

Com­peti­tors will con­tinue to use the same course along both sides of Waikato River, with fin­isher’s medals for every par­tic­i­pant, and on-course mu­si­cal en­ter­tain­ment.

Round the Bridges, Sun­day, Novem­ber 19. Visit www.roundthe­bridges.co.nz for more in­for­ma­tion.

He­len Hall-King ran in her first Round the Bridges in 1984.

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