The vision: 10,000 competitors

Christchurch's Adam Jaques on his way to winning the Queenstown International Marathon half...
Christchurch's Adam Jaques on his way to winning the Queenstown International Marathon half marathon event. Photo by Blair Pattinson.
The heavens may have opened on the inaugural Queenstown International Marathon, but organisers say the sky is the limit for its future growth.

Chief organiser Dave Beeche said race officials were surprised to get 6000 entries this year - their year-five target - after initially expecting about 1200.

Entries for next year's event would open in two to three weeks, and he expected demand to rise significantly.

A decision on where to cap numbers would be made after a debriefing in the next week, he said.

''The vision, ultimately, is to get us to 10,000-plus, but we haven't yet quite formed a view on whether we step it straight to that, or gradually increase it.

''My gut feeling is probably the latter, but we'll see after the debrief.''

The event's long-term capacity could be determined by outside factors, such as accommodation and flights, rather than its own logistical constraints, he said.

A major beneficiary of the event was the Queenstown Trails Trust, on whose trails 70% of the marathon course was run.

As the event's official charity, it received $10 from every entrant, translating to $28,000. Trust CEO Mandy Kennedy said the funds would go towards trail maintenance and development of new trails in the Wakatipu Basin.

Mr Beeche said a ''weather bomb'' had provided a stern test of the organisers' ability to keep late-finishing runners safe and well.

St John Queenstown station manager Craig Downing said 37 people were treated at the finish line for cold weather exposure, and a male competitor was taken to Lakes District Hospital for monitoring of a minor cardiac-related condition.

Most of those treated were late finishers caught in the ''cold snap'' from about 2pm, Mr Downing said. They were taken to a specially prepared room where they were monitored and gradually warmed up.

St John had 27 staff and three ambulances working at the event, including paramedics from Dunedin.

A planned prizegiving ceremony was cancelled because of the weather.


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