A beautiful Mid-Winter’s day, in near perfect conditions, saw the running of the seventh annual Monaco/Nelson Mid Winter marathon on Sunday. The standard marathon course from Monaco to Rabbit Island and return has become a regular fixture on the local running calendar and, after much uncertainty, was able to be held again as scheduled this year.
A common theme reported to the race organisers was ‘a severe lack of training’ with the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown putting a serious dent in many entrant’s training schedules as well as adding an extra kilo or two to many’s physiques. However, that did little to blunt the speed and stamina of some competitors as both the women’s marathon record and the relay record fell at Sunday’s event.
In both the men’s and women’s marathons it was age and experience that prevailed with well seasoned local runners taking both titles and the Racey Rabbit Trophy for 2020. In the women’s marathon it was last year’s winner and local ultra distance athlete Klaartje VanSchie who won comfortably in a race record time of 3 hours and 4 minutes. Men’s winner and perennial placegetter Brian Kemp dominated once again to take his third title in the event having also won in the first and second years of the event. Kemp was the only marathon runner to break the 3 hour mark (by just 15 seconds in 2 hours 59 minutes and 45 seconds) with second placed Jono Leach 5 minutes behind (in 3 hours and 4 minutes) with Luke Grogan a further 2 minutes behind. Second placed female Nat Price recorded 3 hours and 11 minutes with perennial place getter Colette Read recording third in 3 hours and 28 minutes.
6 participants race walked the 42.2km with this year’s overall winner being local Kathryn Cocker in a time of 5 hours and 22 minutes to comfortably win the women’s event. Malcolm Gray dominated again in the men’s event, in a time of 5 hours and 30 minutes, with Steve Doughty and Hamish McLaren recording second and third. Second placed woman was Sharyn Davey with Terri Grimett recording third.
In the 2 person relay event it was youth and vigour which prevailed with the sprightly duo of Angus Wemyss and Josh Barry smashing the existing race record by nearly 10 minutes to record a time of 2 hours and 42 minutes. They were 8 minutes of ahead of second placed duo Mark Kennedy and Katie Morgan ( 2 hours and 50 minutes), with Ben Clark and Simon Ashby in third (3 hours and 5 minutes).
The youngest competitor was gutsy 9 year old Lorea Puche Struben running the return 19km of the 2 person relay with Dad supporting her. The oldest competitor would have been at least 60 years her senior! A special mention must again go to regular competitor and super veteran, 68 year old, Michael Stewart of Naenae, who has now completed close to 600 marathons in his 50 years of marathon running. He finished yesterday in a very credible time of just over 5 hours and remains, by far, the Southern Hemisphere’s most prolific marathon runner!
Finishing times ranging from under 3 hours to more than 7 hours with around 60 entrants toughing out the 42.2km marathon course. 20 of these participants took on, and completed the 42 km marathon distance for the very first time!
A particularly large proportion of out of towners took part in this year’s event. This was, not least, due to the dearth of events nationwide recently as numerous races have been cancelled or postponed. Many vowed to return to compete in Nelson having been awestruck with the beauty of the popular Great Taste Trail beside the estuary on a near perfect day.
Event entry has always been purely by a voluntary donation to charity with the recipients being The Mental Health Foundation and The Heart of Biking Cycle Trail Trust. Over the 7 years of the event these charities have received over $15,000 between them! The event started and finished at The Honest Lawyer, Monaco.