Runners set off in the annual Nelson half marathon. Photo: Pete Marshall Photography.

Half marathon takes 40 years in stride


The Nelson Half Marathon celebrated its 40th anniversary in style on Sunday with more than 800 runners and walkers taking part in the always popular annual event.

With the youngest competitor in a pram and the oldest in his mid-eighties, there was a diverse field of athletes on show.

Kicking off at Suburbs clubrooms at Saxton Field, both runners and walkers had course options of the 21.1km half marathon down to a gentle 2.5km fun run.

Glenn Lilley was the first to cross the finish in a time of 1:19:35, just under 30 seconds ahead of his nearest rival Mike Anderson.

In the women’s half marathon, Natalie Price managed to pip Paula Canning by just four seconds in a tight finish.

Winners were given specially-designed trophies created by artist Mike Ward, who was also running the event.

Organiser Stuart Hague says it was an exciting conclusion as the women battles till the end.

“We all had a good view of them on the embankment, they were both working hard.”

Stuart says the course has changed a number of times over its 40 years, the most famous being the Rocks Rd course, but for the past few years they have found a home at Saxton.

“It’s a great venue.”

He says it was a brilliant occasion with a field of over 800 for all four events.

“We were wrapped, that’s only down by about 50 from last year which was to be expected, just one month ago we didn’t think we would exceed 400, we are very happy we could put event on when so many events have been cancelled.”

Stuart says one of the most pleasing aspects was the number of families taking part.

“That was great because we promote it as a family affair.”

Runners in the longer races are given the option of accompanying children in the shorter events, free of charge.

Stuart says all signs point to the marathon returning bigger and better next year.

Though he doubts he will be around, Stuart is confident the event will one day celebrate its 100th anniversary.

“It was one of the best we have had.”