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New half marathon gets a leg up

New half marathon gets a leg up
Ryan Jameson says the new Ashburton River trail event in March will showcase a "hidden gem" of the district. PHOTO JONATHAN LEASK.

A funding boost is helping an Ashburton rugby club get a new event up and running.

The Allenton Rugby Club is holding the inaugural Ashburton River Trail half marathon event on March 2, 2024.

Event organiser Ryan Jameson said a group came up with the idea to hold a running event along the river trail and quickly partnered with the rugby club.

“The location, facilities, and accessibility to the track made the perfect place.”

Entrants will run along the established track along the Ashburton/Hakatere River starting and finishing at the club’s adjoining grounds.

There will be a 5km event on the Friday night and the 10km and 21km events on the Saturday, followed by a social function at the clubrooms.

In the future they will look to add a full marathon, taking runners from the rugby club all the way to the coast and back, Jameson said.

“The aim is to make it an annual event and entice runners from all over the country to Ashburton for a weekend to compete.

“To our knowledge, it’s the only sort of running event of its type in Ashburton.

“The river track is a hidden gem and this is an opportunity to showcase that.”

Many think of it as a bike trail but it is also a great running track and the Hakatere River Trail users group deserve a lot of credit for the state of it, he said.

The Ashburton District Council had helped, Jameson said, directing them to apply to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Education’s Regional Event Fund.

The river trail marathon was one of nine Mid Canterbury events to receive a grant from the fund, which was set up to kickstart local events that support cross-regional tourism recovery.

There was $30,600 granted in total to events to help attract visitors from outside the district.

Hemsworth Estate, an Edwardian Villa just out of Ashburton, received a $4000 grant to hold a Bridgerton Ball, based on the Netflix series Bridgerton and aimed at couples and women who are fans of the regency series.

Bridgerton Balls have been held in Auckland and Hamilton but Hemsworth Estate will hold the first in the South Island.

Council compliance and development group manager Jane Donaldson said there were 17 applications and the successful ones were decided by a panel including council and community representatives.

“There were some great events seeking grants, so it was a hard job.

“It was clear though, that local groups and businesses are back in the event business and that is great to see.

The Regional Event Fund events create “an additional boost for local businesses, as these visitors stay on and shop, eat at local restaurants and explore the district", Donaldson said.

Regional Event Fund grants:

Ashburton Rowing Club: $4000 for rowing regattas

Hemsworth Estate: $4000 to run Bridgerton Ball

Allenton Rugby Football Club: $4000 for Ashburton River Trail Marathon

Mid Canterbury Vintage Machinery Club: $3000 for Wheat and Wheels Rally

Dynamic Gymnastics Sports: $4000 for three events

Ashburton Aviation Museum and Society: $7000 for Militaria and Aviation Extravaganza

Methven and Foothills Walking Festival: $1000

Mid Canterbury Netball: $2400 for senior tournament

Multicultural Bite: $1200 for annual event on Waitangi Day

By Jonathan Leask