Medical study led to marathon efforts

Marathon enthusiast Colin Dick at his workplace, Auto Court in South Dunedin. Photo: Linda Robertson
Marathon enthusiast Colin Dick at his workplace, Auto Court in South Dunedin. Photo: Linda Robertson
From what were small beginnings, the Dunedin Marathon will be held for the 40th time next Sunday, and one man who has been involved with every one is Colin Dick.

When Dr Stan Woodhouse instigated a medical study on lipids in the blood and the effect exercise had, Dick, a Dunedin car salesman (now 75), was among those who volunteered to take part in the six-month study. It culminated in  a marathon around the Otago Harbour, under the auspices of the Otago Sports Medicine Foundation.

Dick fondly remembers preparing for and running that first marathon on the harbour course nearly 40 years ago. He had made no athletic endeavours for the previous 20 years but for six months he followed a training schedule drawn up by Woodhouse, while reporting regularly to provide blood and fat samples and have his heart rate tested.

Finishing in 3hr 34min in his first marathon, Dick got bitten by the running bug and went on to run a total of 14 over the next eight years, until family and work commitments took priority.

His best time on the Otago Harbour course is 3hr 15min.

The marathon, which became an annual mid-winter event, held in late June, in its formative years, originally followed a course beginning in the Otakou Marae grounds and finishing in front of the container terminal at Port Chalmers. And while one or two other groups took over organising the marathon in those early years, it was not until the Caversham Harrier Club answered the call to stage it in 1985 that Dick began his long association with the event as an official.

"It became a case of not running, but helping," he said.

"I was president of the club back then and had tears in my eyes as to how club members got behind the event. Everybody made sandwiches and savouries for the presentations at the finish area in Port Chalmers afterwards. It was a really nice thing and I was so proud of how the club got behind the event."

But Dick remembers that when it was held in mid-winter, there was one year when runners had to negotiate ice and heavy frost in shaded parts of the course.

"That was one of the reasons the event was moved to September."

Having run or officiated in each event since 1979, Dick has, for most of the past 15 years, driven the lead vehicle.

He remembers that one year, he drove the lead vehicle away from the start at Harington Point when suddenly a horse started running alongside.

"It ran alongside me for about half a mile before it disappeared up a side road."

Dick said he made the transition to running shorter interclub and relay events in the mid-1980s, and about 10 years ago, took to recreational walking.

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