Bridge ‘a killer’ for half-marathon runners

About 60 runners took on the Balclutha half-marathon on Saturday. PHOTOS: NICK BROOK
About 60 runners took on the Balclutha half-marathon on Saturday. PHOTOS: NICK BROOK
While the whole country ran a general election on Saturday, about 60 people ran in the Balclutha half-marathon.

The annual race began just after 10.30am in still, cool conditions after competitors were bussed out to Danone’s factory near Clydevale.

Almost all of the 21.1km course followed the Clutha River gently downhill on the curls, dips and speedy straights of Clutha Valley Rd.

Nic Bathgate, of Dunedin, was first across the finish-line with a time of 1hr 18min 37sec.

Nic Bathgate crossed the finish line first.
Nic Bathgate crossed the finish line first.
"The bridge was a killer," he said, describing the change of surface from chip seal to grass and pavement as the course left the road then ducked down under and across Balclutha’s "undulating" bridge.

"You lose your rhythm right near the end but that’s what makes it such a good, interesting course," he said.

Clinton farmer and recent long-distance running convert Nick Rowe was in agreement.

"For me the end is the toughest. Mentally you feel like you’re done but the last five kilometres just drags on," he said.

When asked how runners wished each other well before the starting gun, he suggested "see you in a couple of hours for a pint!" was the standard.

The half-marathon was the headline event in the annual running gala day, which also hosted 10km and 5km running and walking events and a 2km family fun-run, all ending at a pop-up village of refreshment stalls on the turf beside Balclutha’s Cross Recreation Centre.

Finish line announcer Jason Palmer said conditions were "just about perfect".

"We have about 190 runners registered altogether this year, up on about 160 last year ... It’s great to see a healthy, social event like this growing in popularity."

Competitors of all ages received a medal courtesy of organisers Sport Clutha, Danone and Cross Recreation Centre, and the prizegiving, featuring trophies, place awards and spot prizes was completed before chilly, grey winds closed in.