Police team ready to put in marathon effort

Chris Davies (team manager) Helen Mahon-Stroud, Fiona Croft, Jeremy Gunn and Chris Dunell are...
Chris Davies (team manager) Helen Mahon-Stroud, Fiona Croft, Jeremy Gunn and Chris Dunell are part of the police team running in the Unity Ultra on Saturday. Photo: Geoff Sloan
A Christchurch police team will line up to compete in the first-ever Unity Ultra marathon this weekend.

The Unity Ultra is a 51-mile run starting at Ōnuku Marae near Akaroa and finishing in Hagley Park, opposite Al Noor mosque.

The run was organised to commemorate the March 15 attacks, and fundraise for the NZ Red Cross.

The event was initiated by Kyron Gosse, a Kiwi who lost his aunt Linda Armstrong in the shootings, and Tom Hickman, who organises an ultra marathon in Bali. Linda was killed at the Linwood mosque.

Helen Mahon-Stroud is the police liaison officer for the Armstrong family and, after learning about the run, the former Black Ferns player and Canterbury netballer decided to get a police team together.

"I just thought that would be a really cool event for the police to be involved in, seeing as we were involved in the events of March 15 and we've been involved with the families," said Mahon-Stroud.

"Everyone within the Christchurch police was effected in some way because it wasn't just the events on March 15, it was the ongoing inquiries and investigations

"It's another way that we can show our support for the victims and their families, and for the wider Muslim community."

The police team has a number of accomplished distance runners, including Shaun McWhirter - who finished 21st in last year's Christchurch Marathon in just over 2hr 47min. Also part of the team is experienced trail runner Chris Dunell who finished second in last year's 85km Old Ghost Ultra Marathon in just over 7hr 10min.

"I gave them the legs from the bottom of Duvauchelle, up and over Pigeon Bay, along and into Purau Bay, because they don't really get out of bed to do anything less than 20ks," said Mahon-Stroud.

The event will see 21 runners start the race.  Five from Australia have had to pull out due to border restrictions imposed by coronavirus.