King set the pace for his­tor­i­cal race

It started with a dare and has turned into an an­nual event. Re­porter Rexine Hawes looks be­hind the Tower Run.

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page -

The Tower Run started with three blokes who af­ter an af­ter­noon of drinks at the Mata­mata Club, de­cided to race one an­other to be ‘‘King of the the Tower’’.

In 1977, friends and well known busi­ness­men Tony Richards and Brian Black, known as the Ter­ri­ers, and Colin Thomp­son, nick­named ‘‘King’’ had a score to set­tle.

Richards and Black wanted to prove they could out-run Thomp­son, well known as the Tower King, as he would run to the Firth Tower, on Tower Rd, and back home ev­ery day.

This year marks the Tower Run’s 40th birth­day. Richards spoke with the Chron­i­cle to ex­plain how the Tower Run started.

‘‘We used to drink at the Mata­mata Club and one af­ter­noon we had a few too many spritely ales, thirsty Thurs­day we called it, and we started hav­ing each other on. We de­cided we would have a race at Christ­mas time.’’

Ac­cord­ing to Mata­mata Dis- trict Chron­i­cle ar­chives from De­cem­ber 1977, the Ter­ri­ers and King were well known for plac­ing pub­lic no­tices in the clas­si­fieds in the lead up to their race.

The Ter­ri­ers chal­lenged the King with ‘‘Tower Thomp­son ap­pears to be tripling his train­ing’’ to which the King replied ‘‘The King is still in power, there is no way Black will beat him back’’.

Mata­mata District Chron­i­cle ed­i­tor Harry Baker ran a photo of Black and Richards from be­hind (pic­tured), taunt­ing Colin: ‘‘this will be Thomp­son’s view of us’’.

The trio could never have an­tic­i­pated the phe­nom­e­nal pub­lic in­ter­est their chal­lenge cre­ated.

‘‘The ban­ter in the Chron­i­cle just went boom,’’ said Richards. ‘‘Ev­ery­one turned up. Oh hell, there would have been 3000 peo­ple, the whole town was lined up both sides of the street to watch us.

‘‘We thought this would just be a fun day out for the boys, to the tower and back, but no, there were thou­sands there.’’

King would not be de-throned and crossed the line in first place in 28m, 7.8s af­ter what the Chron­i­cle de­scribed as ‘‘a gru­elling re­lent­less run in which he hardly changed his pace’’.

Richards was able to pace the King to the Tower and back to the Travel Lodge, where the lat­ter pulled away. He crossed the line at 28m 34s. Black fin­ished the race in 31m 45s, but was soon taken to hos­pi­tal by am­bu­lance in what the Chron­i­cle de­scribed as a ‘‘dis­tressed state’’.

Post race, the Ter­ri­ers de­cided to con­tinue the ban­ter, with Richards pro­vid­ing the pa­per with one fi­nal poem for pub­li­ca­tion.

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