New Zealand’s biggest running event and the biggest rugby game of the year are happening at nearly the exact same time. What’s a sports fan to do?
Are you taking part in the Auckland Marathon on Sunday morning? Do you also want to watch every second of the Rugby World Cup final live? It’s possible – but you’ll probably need to break the world record.
The starter’s gun for the full marathon is scheduled to sound on Devonport’s King Edward Parade at 6am on Sunday morning. The whistle to signal kick off for the Rugby World Cup final between the All Blacks and the Springboks is scheduled to ring out at the Stade de France in Paris at 8am New Zealand time. The world record time for the men’s marathon is two hours and 35 seconds, set by Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum in Chicago earlier this month.
If that pace is beyond you, you should still be able to catch the whole second half if you finish in three hours. Those running in the half marathon, which begins at 6.50am, would need to run a blistering 1h10m to make kickoff, but it’s been done before – the course record for men is 1h05m, and the women’s record is 1h13m.
This isn’t the first time the two events have clashed. The last weekend in October is the traditional time of the Auckland Marathon, and often coincides with the Rugby World Cup, which is held every four years, usually through September and October. The events overlapped in 2015, too, when there was a minor outcry.
“There are a lot of moving parts involved in closing down the city centre and two lanes of the Harbour Bridge; when we looked at venues, transport, supplies for other dates, we decided to retain the current date,” says race organiser Amy MacCormack. “If we could avoid it, of course we would, but this is the country’s largest and most iconic road running event, it’s inevitable that it will have a conflict with other events.”
It seems that the Auckland Marathon organising team has at least learned something from 2015: it’s screening the rugby at the finish line this time, with live coverage from 7.30am. There are 14,000 people planning to run in the event, and the conflict with the Rugby World Cup apparently hasn’t caused a dip in numbers.
But maybe this is just a chance for “creative solutions” – MacCormack recommends common sense, but says that a judicious use of earbuds while running from anyone who truly can’t bear to miss a minute might work, as long as one ear is free to listen to potential race announcements. And the kids and 5k events will start well after the rugby has ended, so those athletes will get to watch the rugby, if that is what their heart desires, before running away.
“We see it as a huge positive, a way to create buzz for the whole community,” says MacCormack. There will even be face painters. In some ways, it’s efficient: if you enjoy rugby and running, then why not partake in both at once? It’s a guaranteed exhilarating start to a Sunday morning. “As Kiwis, we always want to get behind sports, so there’ll always be some overlap.”
As for the world record, “if you’re a rugby frother then why not go for it,” says MacCormack, laughing. “Get those skates on! Find your jetpack!”