The Christchurch Marathon

Central Library Peterborough will be a tad more athletic than usual on Sunday, 31 May as the annual Christchurch Marathon takes place. The library is on the marathon route, at the beginning of the course as runners make their way from the Cathedral Square start towards Hagley park, and at the end of the race as they head back to The Square for the big finish.

The route of the Christchurch marathon has changed in recent years due to the earthquakes. It started in 1981 as the same course run during the 1974 Commonwealth Games, the one that saw Brit, Ian Thompson run the second fastest marathon of all time, (2 hrs, 9 mins, 12 secs). Forty years later this is still the fastest marathon ever run in New Zealand and the Christchurch Marathon continues to have a reputation as a “fast and flat” course.

Central Library Peterborough will be open as usual on Sunday but access from the street will be pedestrian only until 2pm. Library visitors will need to park further away than usual and walk to the library (but at least it won’t be 26 miles, so that’s something to be thankful for).

About the Christchurch Marathon

City 2 Surf

Christchurch harriers out for a run on Sumner beach (1927)
Christchurch harriers out for a run on Sumner beach (1927) CCL PhotoCD 8, IMG0048

The City 2 Surf is being held on Sunday 22 March. This annual run has been held since the 1970s, attracting large crowds. Pioneering ultra-distance runner Don Cameron – who ran from Sydney to Melbourne in 11 days to promote the 1974 Commonwealth Games – played a key role in establishing the event.

Does the City 2 Surf inspire you to get into running? We have lots of resources to help you.

Browse our resources

Read about some inspiring New Zealand runners and coaches including:

Regular running events are held throughout the year including the Shoe Clinic Asics 5K series around Hagley Park and the annual Christchurch Airport Marathon, which takes place on the Sunday of Queen’s Birthday Weekend and is a celebration of running and walking, for competition and for personal fitness challenges.

There are many paths and tracks around the city – favourite venues for running in Christchurch include Hagley Park, Bottle Lake Forest, Victoria Park and the Port Hills. Christchurch also has a range of walking programmes and walkways.

Book cover of Official History of the Xth Commonwealth GamesCommonwealth Games 1974

The 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch featured a feast of famous runners. The main venue was QEII Park, purpose built for the Games. New Zealander Dick Tayler won the 10,000 metre race on the opening day. Don Quarrie from Jamaica blasted the competition away with two sprint titles.

On the closing day Tanzania’s Filbert Bayi won the 1500 metres after an epic battle with New Zealand’s John Walker – both men broke the world record. The national records of five countries Tanzania, Kenya, Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand – were all broken in this race.

A novel approach to team sports!

Cover of The Taliban Cricket ClubWorld Cup Cricket has us in its grip. Some of us are bowled over; some of us are going in to bat for the team and the rest of us thought we’d just read a novel where the dull thwack of bat against ball forms an integral part of the plot.

Bowled for a maiden. No such good novel exists. Well maybe one that isn’t too dire: The Taliban Cricket Club.

If we widen the search to include other team sports, like rugby, there’s Lloyd Jones’ novel about the 1905 All Blacks – The Book of Fame. And soccer/football has Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch in its line-up. But it’s slim pickings. There isn’t even very much in the way of mediocre/rubbish team sport fiction writing, which is weird.

Cover of Running the riftBut sports where individuals take part have generated many more novels. Want a novel about running? Award winning Running the Rift is set in Rwanda and is an uplifting  book about  genocide and running and healing. And if that doesn’t appeal, you can choose from 88 other novels on running, and I include Haruko Murakami’s What I Talk About when I Talk About Running because even when Murakami writes non-fiction, it reads like poetry.

Swimmers have quite a good choice as well: Herman Koch and Summer House with Swimming Pool, Alan Hollinghurst and The Swimming Pool Library and The J.M. Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Society with its link to the author of Peter Pan. And cyclists have a large range of novels related to their sport. Gold by Chris Cleave is probably the pick of Goldthe bunch, but for a gentle read there is the popular A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar.

Multitudes of people play (and support) team sports, and just as many people are avid fiction readers. Why then are there so few novels with a team sport theme? Am I missing something here?

Truth to tell, the only cricketing reference that I remember from all my years of reading, is the dull thwack of bat on ball drifting up  from the gently sloping lawn in front of the homestead in Mary Wesley’s novel The Camomile Lawn.

And that will do very nicely for me.

Running on empty

Book cover of You are an ironmanIt’s now less than 12 months before I have a go at my first middle distance triathlon, the Half Ironman. That in itself is a worrying thought, but at least it’s 11 months away, and not 11 weeks – now that would be a cause for concern. Who decided that a half ironman was middle distance? I bet it doesn’t feel like middle distance when you’re out there, half way through the run with 10 kilometres still to go. Yes, I know that a full ironman is considered long distance, but really – middle distance? It sounds as unglamorous as “middle age”.

Anyway, there are no shortage of triathlon training books on the library shelves, should you need some guidance. I have to say I do dip into them occasionally, if only to discover the things I’m doing wrong with my own self-led training. I have tried to do the group exercise thing with swimming and running, just to see if it helped, but I found myself daunted by the prowess of the other group members, and so didn’t continue with that idea. Training by yourself isn’t for everyone, I agree, but it beats having to make friendly conversation – have you tried that when you’re out of breath? It’s all to do with the psychology, and if you wanted to work on your sports psychology, the library – naturally – has that covered.

Cover of 80/20 runningIf you would like a bit of help with your own running activities, you could try this book – 80/20 Running. The subtitle is “Run Stronger And Race Faster By Training Slower”. Anything that involves running slowly would have to be right up my street. Can I also recommend the American edition of Runner’s World magazine, not only because of the excellent content, but because of their endpiece article every month, written by John Bingham, aka ‘the Penguin’, who is an unrepentant advocate of slow running. For a comprehensive look at the whole subject of running and how to do it right, there’s Running Science. Just don’t take it too seriously – it’s supposed to be fun, after all.

For more about Colin’s triathlon endeavours and some reading suggestions, check out our other triathlon blog posts.


Now to get hot and sweaty!

You have probably noticed that the weather gods have decided to let us have some warm weather at last. Naturally this turns a person’s thoughts to what they can be doing outside, be it gardening, sailing, tramping, or even firing up the barbie and opening a few cold ones as evening falls. Naturally the library has all that covered, but that’s not what we’re here for today.

Cover of Triathlon for Masters and BeyondMy personal train of thought veers towards the sweaty at this time of year – yes, I’m talking about triathlon. I’m talking about the original form of triathlon – swim, bike and run – rather than that strange hybrid: kayak, bike and run. I guess not everyone likes the swim, and I confess I don’t either, but part of the appeal must be getting out of your comfort zone, surely?

Learning another sport can be a challenge, but learning those new techniques and building up those specific muscles can be enjoyable, and you’re never too old to keep learning, right? Well, that’s what I tell myself, anyway, and there may even be a grain of truth in it. And there’s always that strange thrill of buying yourself some new sport specific gear, and let’s be honest, looking the part is half the fun.

I’ve long had a fascination with the Ironman distance races – and who wouldn’t after watching this sort of thing on Youtube.

Alas, what with working full time and having a family, I don’t think I could dedicate the time needed to survive that sort of event (and to be honest, paying the entry fee for that type of event is pretty painful if you’re on a librarian’s wage).

However, I do think I could train for a Half Ironman event, so this is the first post about that. The Half Ironman is the fastest growing distance in the triathlon world, being a little longer than ‘sprint’ or Olympic distance events, and thereby possibly more suited to older people like myself who don’t have the speed that the shorter distance events demand. A Half Ironman is a 1.9km swim, a 90 km bike ride and a 21 km run, not impossible but still a distance to be respected.

The event I have my eye on is in Ashburton, on 7th November 2015, at the marvellous Lake Hood. Yes, it’s a long time away, but that gives me time to get my poor ageing body used to all that exercise. So, you’re very welcome to come along for the ride on this one, literally if you feel the urge, and figuratively even if you don’t.

Cover of Triathlon ScienceWorking in a library as I do, I naturally had to see what resources were available to help me on my way. I’m of an age now where I qualify as a ‘Master’ athlete, so a title like Triathlon for Masters and Beyond was an obvious start. There’s also the excellent and comprehensive Triathlon Science by Joe Friel, and Triathlon by Steve Trew.

If you have a tablet or e-book reader, you could also download Trew’s book (you’ll need a password or PIN number added to your library card to be able to download e-books; if you don’t have one already, speak to your friendly local librarian or call us). Don’t be put off by the mention of tactics in that title – most new triathletes are focused on enjoying the experience, not racing.

For my part, the running is already underway – I’m a regular recreational runner anyway, so I know what I’m doing with that. The swimming and the cycling is another matter! More on those in subsequent posts.

Are you a beginning triathlete? Is getting fit one of your goals? Do leave a comment if so, it would be great to see how many people are starting this same journey.

Confessions of a reluctant runner

Search the catalogue for RunningI’m still finding it hard to believe, but a month ago I took part in the relay in the Buller Marathon, running 10.55k. 10.55 kilometres!

It was about a year ago I started this running caper. At the time a neighbour asked if I would like to run the 6k in the City to Surf with her. ‘Like’ wasn’t quite the word I’d have chosen but it was time to try and shift some post preggy weight and get out and do some exercise.

But running? Not really my thing. Or so I thought. At the start different parts of my body certainly took turns in telling me how much it disliked this new activity I was subjecting it to. Initially, running with friends helped a lot as it was good motivation to A) show up in the first place and B) keep going when you really want to lie down and gasp. The secret saving grace of a beginner runner is the fact that no one can tell by your sweaty red faced state, how far (or little) you have actually run…

After awhile, going for a run every two or three days became a pattern or dare I say it, a habit. As with a lot of things, it’s all about your attitude and managing trick your brain into going along with this exercise nonsense.

In the process I’ve run in all sorts of weather, up hills, taken part in a duathlon and now, been part of a successful relay team. I won’t ever be in the league of “Running with the Kenyans” but running is a free form of exercise that’s strangely habit forming and even at times enjoyable! So, if you’ve got one of those new year’s resolutions that’s yet to be started, or you’ve thought about running but never got around to putting on the appropriate footwear, there’s lots of help out there if you need it. The library has loads of resources and links to community groups to get you started.

In the words of that huge multinational “just do it!”

Stewards of a lost art: born to run barefoot

CoverThe Tarahumara are stewards of a lost art. For centuries, the reclusive Mexican Indians have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles, rest-free, and enjoy every mile of it. They’re healthy and serene and immune to diseases that can plague modern existence. But how?

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen asks this very question. And one answer the author came up with is… drumroll please:

They run barefoot. Well, almost barefoot. They craft simple sandals from old tyres – no pillowy soft air cushioning, no dynamic cradles that can be found in over-priced running shoes.

People were designed to run. Barefoot. This is the theory established in Born to Run. Barefoot running strengthens the foot and creates  a solid foundation for the body. Running shoes  force the foot to rely on the shoe for support, weakening the foot, which can lead to injury. When ‘proper’ running shoes were introduced in the 1970s, so too were running injuries. The more expensive the shoe, the higher the rate of injury!

So what is a lover of running to do? Likely we don’t want to wear old tyres or risk naked feet when there’s glass and rocks to contend with. There is an answer. It isn’t pretty. But it is oh, so comfortable. It’s a barefoot running shoe. I first read about them in Born to Run and now  I wouldn’t run in anything else.

Like to run or thinking about starting? Born to Run will psyche you up. Read on! It might just change everything.

Check the Christchurch City Libraries website for great running resources.

City to Surf Times Two

Find Lost Art of Walking at Christchurch City LibrariesMy commitment to fitness goes in cycles. At the moment I’m in a deep trough of do nothingness but about four years ago I set myself to walk the City to Surf. I walked regularly and as D-Day approached I thought I had better do a “trial” to make sure I wasn’t going to embarrass myself on the day.

Off I went following the City to Surf route around the Avon. When I had been walking for about an hour I thought I had better turn around and head for home. At a crucial point I debated phoning home to be picked up but bravely decided to keep going. When I finally got home and looked on a map – I had walked the exact distance of the City to Surf!

The following weekend I did it for real along with fitness fanatics carrying large fence posts, the roller bladers, the lean, mean running machines, the yummie mummies with their battle tank baby buggies – the whole motley crew. A lot of sweat and one souvenir t-shirt later and my City to Surf career was over.

This year’s City to Surf  takes place on Sunday 21 March. The event has been providing people with a fantastic basic fitness incentive for 36  years. This year there is a 6km option as well as the 12km option. Our libraries have great guides to running (and walking if you find running too much to contemplate). A number of our libraries are the base for regular Walk n Talk programmes run by the City Council. CINCH (Community Information Christchurch) has the contacts for Christchurch walking groups.

Have you got a “fun run” story to tell?