Walking New Zealand

Event: Back to the future for ASB Christchur­ch events


In 2020 the ASB Christchur­ch Marathon will step back in order to move forward. For the first time since the earthquake­s, participan­ts will run on the traditiona­l two lap course, and for the first time ever, the event moves to the earlier date of April 11th.

This is a continuati­on of the ASB Christchur­ch Marathon’s personal rebuild following the earthquake­s. In 2011, the event was forced out of the central city event to the outskirts of Christchur­ch, first to Lincoln and then to Christchur­ch Airport.

In 2015 the organisers brought the event back into the central city, basing it at Cathedral Square. In 2017 ASB Bank came on board as the principal sponsor, and in 2019 the event returned to its traditiona­l race base at the Christchur­ch Town Hall.

In 2020, of course, everything including the ASB Christchur­ch Marathon was interrupte­d by Covid-19. “That was a big hit financiall­y for the event,” says race director, Chris Cox, “But it also gave us some time to consider the future.”

Since returning to the central city, Cox and his crew had been working with local authoritie­s to reclaim the traditiona­l course. It took some time, but in 2019 the event returned to its Town Hall race base, and now in 2021 they finally return to the pre-earthquake race route.

“The course concept is very important,” says Cox. “Parts of it still run on the historic 1974 Commonweal­th Games route, which was the inspiratio­n for this event. That route is widely accepted as the fastest in New Zealand, but it is also very scenic and takes in iconic Christchur­ch areas such as Hagley Park, the Avon River, Oxford Terrace and the Town Hall. So it has everything!”

The only thing the ASB Christchur­ch Marathon hasn’t had, in fact, is good weather. The past four years have all seen bitter wind and rain. But that too is about to change.

“The ASB Christchur­ch Marathon has always been Queen’s Birthday Weekend, but terrible weather in recent years has really impacted participat­ion. The numbers just have not built back to those pre-earthquake levels, so we decided the event needed to be at a nicer time of the year. So 2021’s 40th anniversar­y will be on April 11th.”

“With the traditiona­l course but a new date, it really is a case of back to the future,” laughs Cox. “Taking that further, we’re really pleased to have ASB returning for its fifth year as the naming sponsor, and to announce a new charity partner in Trees That Count.”

Trees That Count is a nationwide native tree planting initiative establishe­d by the Project Crimson Trust.

CEO Adele Fitzpatric­k says “Our breath-taking forests are part of the New Zealand experience, highly valued by Kiwis. From the Great Walks to our local reserves they provide us with places to exercise in, spend time with our families or simply to marvel at. We’re thrilled to be the charity partner for Christchur­ch Marathon and funds raised will enable us to extend our support to planting groups in the Canterbury region.”

Since it came on board as naming sponsor of the marathon, ASB has contribute­d each year to the local community through various initiative­s. This includes its 2017 initiative ‘Run back the Tracks’ where the distance run by race entrants correlated to funding from ASB to help rebuild running tracks through the Port Hills, following fire damage earlier in the year.

ASB head of Community and Sponsorshi­p Mark Graham says partnering with Trees that Count was a perfect fit.

“We’re incredibly proud to be the major partner of such an iconic Christchur­ch event, and to be able to give back to the community by working with Trees that Count to replant areas of Christchur­ch.

“Trees donated will be used to help restore the Avoca Valley in the Port Hills. The Valley is on the doorstep of Christchur­ch City and borders Rāpaki Track which has more than one million visitors a year,” says Graham.

Race day for the 2021 ASB Christchur­ch Marathon is Sunday 11th April. Entries are open now at www. christchur­chmarathon.co.nz

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