About the Dunedin Marathon

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The 40th Dunedin Marathon running race is due to be held on Sunday 9th September 2018 that will consist of 6 events.

The original event in Dunedin, New Zealand consisting of a marathon and half marathon was initiated by the New Zealand Federation of Sports Medicine (Otago Branch) in 1979 lead by James Fraser.

In March 1984 after serving as race director for two years, Mary Jane McKenzie wrote essentially an SOS letter to all the local harrier clubs saying that the Otago Branch of NZ Federation of Sports Medicine had indicated that the event was now established and they “would prefer to transfer their efforts to other areas directly concerned with sports medicine” and “If you wish to retain a marathon event in Dunedin, then the time has come to “come to the party””.

In 1985 the event was organised by the local Caversham Harrier and Athletic Club which has continued to organise the marathon to the present. Phil Coakes was appointed the role of chairman in 1990 and later became race director. Phil was a great enthusiast having completed the marathon a number of times prior to organising it, peaking with 3rd place in 1983, retained the role of race director to mid way through 2017 when it was handed over to the current director Charlotte Meiklejohn.

The name of the race has changed a number times:

  • Dunedin Round the Harbour Marathon 1979-1982
  • Dunedin Harbour Marathon 1983
  • City of Dunedin Round the Harbour Marathon 1984
  • Speight’s City of Dunedin Marathon 1985-1987
  • Cadbury Moro City of Dunedin Marathon 1988-1996
  • Cadbury Moro Harbour Marathon 1997
  • Moro Marathon 1998-2012
  • Cadbury Dunedin Marathon 2013-2017
  • Dunedin Marathon 2018

Note that in 1980 and 1981 the half marathon was replaced by a “mini marathon”, a 24 km run from the start of the marathon at Otakou to Portsmouth Drive in 1980 and Modern Caravans in South Dunedin in 1981. Since 1982, there has been an official half marathon of 21.1km with changes of start position – Timaru Street in South Dunedin, Forsyth Barr Stadium car park and Logan Park Drive finishing at the same place as the full marathon in Port Chalmers. The specific finish position has also changed a number of times, initially on the street in Port Chalmers, but in most of the last two decades at Watson Park in Port Chalmers.

There will be major changes to the courses and finish in 2018 driven largely by safety concerns along SH88 expressed by competitors and the lack of “atmosphere” at the finish for late finishers being greeted by a handful of tired but dedicated finish line officials after most competitors and supporters had departed.

The official recognised events are the marathon and half marathon, however, in order to give more people the opportunity to participate and improve their fitness and to keep up with innovations, over time the Caversham organisers have added further events and technology:

  • The Half Marathon Recreational Walk was added in 1995
  • In 2010 digital transponders were introduced which has more recently enabled live provisional results to be picked up on competitor’s and spectator’s mobile devices during race day.
  • In 2015 the Quarter Marathon Run and Walk events were added. The quarter marathon is not an officially recognised event and it was decided that this distance will be replaced by 10 km run and walk events in 2018. If you’re moderately fit and would like to take that next step, this just may be your ideal opportunity to have an inspirational day out with hundreds of other like minded people.

The events:

  • Marathon (42.2 km) – is and always will be a considerable undertaking that requires an enormous amount of preparation. In 2017, 133 runners completed this iconic distance that consisted of 88 males and 45 females aged between 18 and 76!
  • Half marathon run (21.1 km) – although a considerable distance, the half marathon is suprisingly doable for slightly fitter people who want to take that extra step and is the most popular event. In 2017, 648 runners completed the 21.1 km, with a relative even split of females (329) and males (319) with a spread of finish times from 1hr 14mins 45secs to 3hrs 48mins 45ecs.
    The Half Marathon is not recommended for younger runners for reasons that we won’t go into here, but it’s to do with the possible detrimental effects of sustained impact on a developing body.
  • 10 km run is possibly the most popular distance in road racing in the World. It is a useful target for those of you who run a bit who need a bit of a challenge. It’s also a good event for younger runners who are keen on running longer distances. Previously the Quarter Marathon was introduced because it was conveniently the approximate distance from the Forsyth Barr Stadium to Port Chalmers, however subsequent changes to the start position meant that the course was a little further than a quarter of a marathon.
    In 2017, 274 completed the “quarter” consisting of 193 females and 81 males.
  • Half marathon recreational walk – in 2017, 121 completed the walk, including 92 females and 29 males.
  • 10 km recreational walk – in 2017, 169 walkers including 139 females and 30 males completed the “quarter” walk.