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Buller Gorge 10K, 10 Feb 2024

Once again Maryanne and I made the annual pilgrimage to Westport to take part in the 41st Buller Gorge Marathon
weekend. Over the years we have competed in the full marathon, half marathon and in the latter years as part of a
team doing the marathon relay. Two years ago, a 10km was introduced and Maryanne and I took part in this new event which takes part on the newly formed Kawatiri Coastal Trail. Sadly, this year owing to ongoing hip and back problems, and not being able to run 10km, I had to be content acting as support person.

This year there were no ferry issues and we made it to Nelson to stay with friends and then travelled to Westport on the Friday morning. After picking up our race packs we then proceeded to Carters Beach to our accommodation for the weekend.

In 2023 there was a new Race Director for the event and the whole proceedings from race number pickup through to the prize giving was a disaster. This year a new Race Director and committee were in place, and it was a completely different event right from race numbers pick up until the completion of the prize giving. Sadly, numbers were down on previous years for all races, and this could have been because of last year’s poorly run event. In the full marathon there were only 121 starters (2 being walkers), half marathon 475 runners and 105 walkers, 40 relay teams and in the 10km, 210 runners and walkers.

Race day was overcast and there was rain forecast for later in the day. At the 2021 event we were asked for feedback from the 10km and we along with other competitors suggested an earlier start time than the scheduled 11am. In 2023 the start time was once again 11am and the conditions were very hot by start time. The new committee must have taken on the feedback and moved the start time to 9.30am. They also instigated a course change for the last 1.5km of the 10km which kept the runners and walkers off the main street of Westport and talking later to those that competed in the 10km, they said that it was a great change to the course as it went alongside the Buller River before crossing a bridge over the rail lines before entering Victoria Square and the finishing chute.

The prize giving was well run, started on time, and this year there were a good number of major spot prizes drawn after the previous year were there were no major spot prizes offered at all. The forecast rain finally arrived part way through the prize giving and it was a mad dash to our vehicles after the prize giving finished.

Maryanne completed the 10km walk in 1:22:25.
Also taking part from WRW were Ann Stewart 1:20:30, Liz Morrison 1:23:56 and Carole Douce 1:25:44.

Next year is the 42nd running of this event and is to take place on Saturday 8th February 2025.

John Palmer