All smiles: Runners in last Saturday's half marathon

Air New Zealand’s naming sponsorship of the Queenstown International Marathon has reached the finish-line following last Saturday’s sixth running of the race.

The national airline’s been onboard since day one, playing a huge role in marketing the event, not to mention flying in runners from around NZ and overseas.

“They were instrumental in helping set up the event for success,” says Dave Beeche, from event organiser Ironman.

“It’s now entrenched in NZ – it was the largest marathon in NZ this year with 2700 runners.”

Beeche says both parties “got an enormous benefit out of the partnership”.

Air NZ external comms manager Anna Cross says: “Air NZ entered into a partnership with Ironman to help drive visitor demand during Queenstown’s shoulder season, and six years on this objective has been well and truly achieved.”

She says in that time participation’s nearly doubled from about 6300 runners to 12,000.

“Air NZ’s additional services to and from Queenstown over marathon weekend this year equates to an extra 3408 seats, and an extra 5118 seats in total between November 11-24, speaking to the attraction of combining a holiday in Queenstown with running in the event.

“With the Queenstown marathon now well established, Air NZ will make way for another naming sponsor for next year and beyond.”

Beeche confirms a new title partner will be announced in the next week or two.

“Obviously, any long-term partnership, you have mixed feelings about changing that out, but a new partner will bring a new lease of life, new opportunities.”

He adds Air NZ will still be a key part of the event’s success – “their planes are still going to be full, they’ll still be putting on extra flights”.