09 March 2014

Round the Bays 2014

Round the Bays has been an annual event in Auckland since 1972. The event was initiated by jogging pioneer Don Walker and former Mayor of Auckland, Colin Kay, both members of the Auckland Joggers' Club. The first run attracted 1200 participants, though only 793 of them had paid to compete.

They walked to the start line, they came on ferries and they came in trucks

Around 5 years after it started, walkers joined runners in the event and, these days, those who are wheelchair-bound and those who are still in pushchairs also join in the fun.

The first competitor who appeared was a gorilla in a wheelchair!
Then came the runners - Jonathan Jackson, in the orange shirt, led them from start to finish

In 2012, on the event’s 40th anniversary, there were 70,000 participants, making Round the Bays one of the world’s biggest fun runs and the largest mass participation event in New Zealand.

At first there weren't many ... but that soon changed

I remember watching my first Round the Bays run from the porch of the flat where I was living way back in 1978. Me, my boyfriend of the time and our flatmate were enjoying some good strong coffee after a late night out at the pub but managed to stumble outside to cheer on the runners and walkers.

Beginning on Quay St in the central city and finishing on the waterfront at St Heliers Bay, the course is 8.4km long and follows the coastline of Auckland's Waitemata Harbour. I’ve never actually taken part in the event but I’ve walked the flat course many times for pleasure. Having the sea on one side of the road makes it a very pleasant walk.

And they just kept on coming ... and going

Employees of companies and organisations large and small form teams of walkers to help raise money for whatever cause or causes are being supported each year. This year funds raised have been dedicated to Radio Lollipop, Cystic Fibrosis Auckland Branch, The Hearing House, Crohn’s and Colitis New Zealand, Raukatauri Music Therapy Trust, Kidsline and Fairfax First Books.

With most particpants dressed in company colours and displaying their organisations' logos or slogans, the t-shirt makers must make a fortune from this annual event but not everyone dresses in tees or sports gear. People also dress up in crazy outfits – this year I saw Tarzan and Jane, a banana man and lots of fairies, as well people in costumes related to their work: firemen and toothpaste men, amongst others.

It was fairly obvious that a lot of the participants only do a walk like this once a year so I’m sure there’ll be many sore muscles tomorrow. It was fun to watch and cheer everyone on but I’m glad I wasn’t in with the masses.

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