Aucklander beats Queenstown’s Bailey to marathon

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A local running event organiser’s plans for a Queenstown international marathon have been trumped by an Aucklander.

Welsh native turned Queenstowner Adrian Bailey had been planning a scenic road marathon from Glenorchy to Queenstown on November 22 next year.

In an amazing coincidence, Aucklander David Beeche rang him to say he’s running a similar event in the Wakatipu on the same day. 

Bailey, who organises a running series at Queenstown’s Jack’s Point and the annual Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon, says he “was just a little bit surprised”.

Bailey says having discussed his event with Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler and Queenstown Lakes district mayor Vanessa van Uden plus initiating work on traffic management, he was disappointed Beeche hadn’t heard of his plans when the Auckland-based promoter rang him.

Sportingly, the Queenstowner agreed to postpone his Glenorchy marathon until at least 2015: “I’m not going to put on an event at the same time.” 

Beeche’s company Upsolut Sports Oceania was recently granted $80,000 by the Queenstown council’s new events fund for his festival of running – which will include a marathon, half-marathon, 10km run and a kids’ run. 

About 70 per cent of Beeche’s marathon will be on the Queenstown Trails Trust’s new track.

By contrast, event organiser Nathan Fa’avae was barred by the trust from using the track for his Spring Challenge women’s multisport event last month, with the trust wanting to run the first event on the track itself.

Beeche says he’s aiming for a mass-market marathon: “The niche we see filling is for people who have been pounding their knees for years on road marathons who might be looking for something different.”

For his first festival of running, Beeche hopes for about 1200 competitors, including many from overseas.

Beeche praises Bailey’s willingness to pull his Glenorchy marathon: “We hugely appreciate that.” 

Mayor Van Uden recalls tourism chief Bowler raising the idea of a Glenorchy marathon with her and then talking to Bailey about it.

“You’ve got two people working on [a marathon] and one makes quite a bit of progress, but it’s not up to me or council to choose who or who doesn’t win.

“The beauty would be if in the end they got together and figured out which was the best course that was going to attract the best people and then worked on it together.”

Bailey believes his Glenorchy course would be one of the most scenic in the world.

“I wasn’t going to apply for a grant because I’m fortunate I have local sponsors who are very supportive,” Bailey says.

The Queenstowner will now focus on an international marathon at Mount Cook next April.

Meanwhile, Bailey’s saddened he’ll have to pull his annual Race The Train event – in which runners race the Kingston Flyer – because the vintage steam train’s not running.

“Maybe I can ask the council for a grant to revitalise the Flyer,” Bailey says.