Racing through the years
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.