Whangamata’s Run Walk festival’s really got legs

WhangamatarunThe G J Gardner Whangamata Run Walk Festival will be celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year – and that’s no mean ‘feet’! With a half marathon (21km), a 10km and a 5km course to choose from, this iconic event for the town attracts serious and recreational runners and walkers alike – from preschoolers to 90 year olds!

Race Director Jan Findlay, says preparations are well underway for the family-oriented festival which this year will be held on Saturday, 12 September. She confirms that ‘early bird’ entries are now open and that this year’s prize pool will feature some extra special treats in recognition of the festival’s 20-year milestone.

“We are very lucky to receive so much support from our loyal sponsors and the community – whether that’s through volunteers giving their time before and on the day, or through donated materials and prizes. For example, as well as merit prizes, we have incidental prizes at registration time, and a range of spot prizes which anyone can win. To date these include: a fabulous bike; a G J Gardner/Placemakers building materials voucher; a $2,000 travel voucher; 20th Anniversary limited edition T-Shirts, and a ‘Go Pro’ camera.

With an emphasis on safety and fun, each of the three categories is also professionally timed, and photographed. The real strength of the festival though is its ability to bring a wide range of people together, says Jan. “It’s an opportunity to enjoy a healthy activity, to meet old friends and make new ones – all the while supporting the local community by helping to raise funds that go back into the community. No individuals get paid, yet they have the opportunity to nominate which groups they would like to see any profits go to.”

In recent years when Jan and Katrina Batters have been the organizers, money raised through the festival has helped support a wide range of local groups and activities: from IT equipment and sportsgear for local schools; contributing to the establishment of X-ray facilities in the town; to supplying defibrillators to our surf lifesaving clubs, and supporting environmental initiatives such as beach care and dotterel recovery programmes. The three nominated major beneficiaries from the 2014 festival were the St John Ambulance, Whangamata Area School and Whangamata Lions Inc.

“We’re hoping for a solid turnout this year for the 20th anniversary event,” says Jan. “We also make an effort to keep our entry fees as reasonable as possible.and believe they compare very favourably with other similar events run elsewhere.” Firms in town also welcome and appreciate a crowd. “There’s plenty to do and see in Whangamata. We hope everyone taking part has a great time both during the festival and by supporting our district’s businesses and attractions while they’re here.”

For more information, to enter online (preferred) or download a printout of an entry form, see the festival website at www.whangamatarunwalk.co.nz. You can also ‘like’ the festival’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/whangamatarunwalk and go in the draw to win a free entry – there are two to be won each month until August.
Online entries close 10 September and a late entry fee applies after 7 September for both online and entry form registrations. Entries will be taken up until the day (12 September) until 30 minutes before the first event starts at 9.00am. Race enquiries to: info@whangamatarunwalk.co.nz