Each November, Air New Zealand holds a weekend of activities surrounding an international marathon.
According to Bruce Parton, COO of Air New Zealand, 2017 was the fourth year that Air New Zealand has sponsored the marathon in Queenstown. With Air New Zealand’s commitment to supercharging New Zealand’s success socially, environmentally and economically, they have sponsored events in regional New Zealand so local business owners and tourism operators are able to benefit from the increased number of visitors to their regions.
The Air New Zealand Queenstown International Marathon is one of the flagship events of Queenstown. This marathon comprises of 42 km (26 miles), 21 km (13 miles), 10 km (6 miles) and 2.2 km (1 mile) categories for kids and adults. It is set on a backdrop of the impressive Crown and Remarkable mountain ranges, with race routes that overlook Millbrook Resort, Arrowtown, Lakes Hayes, Shotover River, Lake Wakatipu, and Queenstown Gardens.
Welcoming runners from all over the world
With Queenstown’s growing reputation as a world-class holiday destination, combined with off-road, easy running, trails that make up the bulk of the race routes, the Air New Zealand Queenstown International Marathon is hugely attractive to overseas runners who are looking to clock some miles while exploring the town. This is indeed the case, with a record of 5 nights’ average stay in Queenstown for international visitors and 3 nights’ average stay for domestic visitors.
The strong interest in the Air New Zealand Queenstown International Marathon is also reflected in the numbers. With over 40 countries represented in this marathon, including more than 1,200 from Australia, as well as runners from the US, UK, and China, you can imagine how much diversity this marathon has. Out of the 10,000-odd participants in 2017, the overseas participants make up 20%. Because of this event alone, Air New Zealand has brought in almost 3,000 extra seats that service Queenstown.
To facilitate the crowd when collecting race packs and to make it convenient for overseas participants, the organisers send out the race packs to local participants, while international participants can collect their race packs before the day of the race at the Queenstown Memorial Centre. That way, the race pack collection is swift when participants collect them.
Cool race quirks
You can find energy bars and your race tag in your race bag. What makes this marathon special is how each race tag has each participants’ country flag on it, so you can identify the countries each runner came from. It is surely comforting having a familiar identity on a foreign land as you embrace this international running community.
Shoes, tees and sporting accessories from their sponsors are also available on-site at the Sports Expo.
Feel the enthusiasm pulsing
With the sun still shrouded at 7 am, be prepared for breaths of warm smoke that will billow out of everyone’s mouths in the 8 oC (46.4 oF) icy morning air as the runners move their stiff muscles in an attempt to warm their bodies up.
As participants are ushered to the beginning of their respective races, the sun rays finally began to stream in, bringing the familiar warm.
The running terrain is a combination of concrete and gravel within nature, meandering through hiking and park trails.
You will find a supportive running community. Families, friends and pets stand on the borders by the running route to cheer on the runners. Some carried boards, others had clappers with them. In the distance, you may hear a puppy barking enthusiastically. The early summer weather promises to hold up for all 10,000 of the participants.
“Flying” through the finish line
As part of Air New Zealand’s involvement in the race, they make crossing the finish line as if runners are descending down a flight landing strip. A member of the Air New Zealand cabin crew then presents the medal over your head and congratulates you.
Gorgeous views to accompany
With more than 9,800 people taking part in 2017, it certainly exceeded their goals of getting more people outdoors and doing active sports, and bringing more people to Queenstown and have them discover its scenic landscapes.
“New Zealanders are extremely welcoming and down to earth and are very passionate about our history and culture. Our cities and regions have their own unique offerings, meaning there is always a new adventure to be had or place to explore,” says Parton.
Starting at The Avenue, Millbrook Resort at Arrowtown, the full Marathoners will begin their run at 8:20 am. They run around Lake Hayes, pass Lower Shotover, by Kawarau River in Frankton, along Frankton Arm Walkway and into Queenstown via Queenstown Gardens. All runners will then finish at Queenstown Recreation Ground.
The 2018 edition of the Air New Zealand Queenstown Marathon will happen on 17 November and consist of the marathon, half-marathon, 10 km (6 miles) and 2.2 km (1 mile) kids’ run. Entries are now open on the website linked below. Online entries close midnight 14 November 2018. Prices start from 20 AUD (16 USD) for the kids’ run, 51 AUD (39 USD) for the 10 km (6 mi) run, 97 AUD (75 USD) for the half marathon and 147 AUD (114 USD) for the marathon.