Focus on a race Interview

Moro Marathon : Phil Coakes's Interview

20 Apr 2008 20:01
Jean-Loup Fenaux

For my first interview about a marathon located in Oceania, I had the opportunity to contact Phil Coakes, the race director of the Moro Marathon.

The bonds that link him to the Moro Marathon are very strong since he ran his first marathon there in 1980. The same year, he also joined the Caversham Harrier and Athletic Club which 5 years later took the responsibility of organizing the race. In 1990 he joined the Marathon Organizing Committee and 2008 will be his 19th year as Race Director. A role he finds very enjoyable and rewarding. To him each and every runner is a winner.

After the flying monks in Nepal, here is the flying runner of the Moro Marathon
Credit : Moro Marathon

Hello Phil, on September 14th, you’ll be organizing the Moro Marathon. Can you tell us where it is located? The Moro Marathon takes place in Dunedin, a city with a population of around 125,000, situated in the lower part of the South Island of New Zealand.

The marathon will celebrate it’s 30th anniversary this year. Why was it created in the first place? How has it evolved the past 30 years ? The first Marathon held in 1979 was organized by the Otago branch of the New Zealand Federation of Sports Medicine. Their aim was to promote exercise and a healthy life style. The Caversham Harrier & Athletic Club became the organizers in 1985 and 2008 marks their 24th year.

What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it? The coarse is point to point, the start is close to the Royal Albatross Colony on the Otago Peninsula and runs around the beautiful Otago Harbour before finishing in Port Chalmers.It is mainly flat with slight undulations over the last 10km with a sharp but brief rise at the 39k mark.

How many runners do you expect on Sunday morning? What type of runners do you plan to attract? In 2007 we had 132 take part in the marathon,there was a drop in numbers in the 80’s and 90’s but increasing numbers over the past 5 years indicates that the record of 156 which was set in 1979 will be threaten. The Marathon incorporates the Otago Open and Masters Marathon Championships. We attract runners from through out New Zealand, Australia,also from Canada, Japan and England.We cater for both the experience and novice competitor.

Do you organize other races during the Week-End? If so, on what distances? The Moro Marathon event includes a Half Marathon Run and Half Marathon Recreational Walk. It starts close to the half way mark of the Marathon course, finishing along with the marathon runners at Port Chalmers.Two week before the event we provide a free ‘Marafun’ 10k Run and 5k Walk, a chance for competitors to test their fitness. Since 2001 overall numbers have increased 75%, in 2007 the event attracted 1754 entrants over the three events

At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect? Early spring weather, 12-16 C, any wind will create either a head wind or tail wind, or vice versa. We usual experience perfect conditions for marathon running.

Have you planned festivities around the marathon? Everything happens on the day, each competitor has set their goals,we are there to help them archive them. We also cater for their supporters, last year we introduced a Supporters Train, this enable them to view the runners as they made their way to the finish, we called it a ’Moving Grandstand ’. The train stopped next to the Finish area and all supporters were able to view the finish of the race.

he marathon finished, what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Dunedin before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing? Come and experience what the Moro Marathon and the City of Dunedin has to offer, warm and friendly people,and if there is any fuel left in the legs, a walk up the World’s Steepest Street or a visit to Cadbury’s World would is a must. We are the gateway to Central Otago ski fields,bungy jumping and river jet-boating.

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of 42k195 to make them register for the Moro Marathon? Affordability, pollution-free air and the scenery should never be underestimated by runners for runners. Is rated in the top 10 Marathons in New Zealand.

Thank you very much Phil