November 30, 2023

Weather: Auckland Marathon to be run in heavy rain, gales, contingency course in place as ex-Cyclone Lola bears down

Runners in last year's Auckland Marathon on a rain-soaked Sunday, with athletes likely to face wet even windier conditions tomorrow. Photo / File. Alex Burton

Tens of thousands of people are set to run the Auckland Marathon tomorrow in heavy rain and gales as ex-Tropical Cyclone Lola peters out over the city and northern parts of the country.

MetService-issued heavy rain and strong wind warnings, along with a heavy rain watch, will be in place in Northland from Sunday morning and in Auckland and Coromandel from Sunday evening through Monday,

Eastern and northern coastlines are also set to be pummelled by monster 6m waves as king tides combine with strong onshore winds on Sunday.

Today, meanwhile, should be mainly fine in Auckland with a possibility of turning overcast by the evening. MetService forecasts an 18C high with southerlies changing to easterlies in the afternoon.

The starting line for the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Marathon is at King Edward Parade in Devonport with the race starting at 6am.

Runners will head north to the Akoranga bus station before turning south along the Northern Motorway, across the harbour bridge, then to St Heliers and back, to the finish line at Victoria Park.

The half marathon begins at 6.50am, also at King Edward Parade and finishes directly at Victoria Park. An 11km traverse starts at 8.50am at the Smales Farm bus station to finish at Victoria Park.

A 5km race will begin at 11am at Karanga Plaza in Wynyard Quarter, along Quay St, and finish at Victoria Park while the children’s marathon will begin opposite the park at 10.30am, around Wynyard Quarter and back to Victoria Park.

More than 14,000 athletes have registered to participate – the youngest of which is only 5 years old and the eldest 85. It’s the first time running the marathon for almost two-thirds of those joining in.

Race director Mitch Murcott said organisers were delighted to see so many athletes participate and encouraged people to come to Victoria Park to celebrate them and, hopefully, an All Blacks victory with a live outdoor screening of the World Cup final.

“For over 30 years, runners from across Aotearoa and around the world have lined up in their thousands for the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Marathon,” Murcott said.

“As well as the once-a-year opportunity to cross the Harbour Bridge on foot, people love this event for its camaraderie amongst runners, the support of locals on course and at the finish, its celebration of diversity and culture, and the joy of running through the streets of New Zealand’s largest city.”

A spokeswoman for marathon organisers told the Herald there was a contingency course if Waka Kotahi NZTA had to close the harbour bridge because of high winds.

If the course does change, the whole race will take place on the city side of the bridge, and participants will be directly contacted by race organisers, the spokeswoman said.

Organisers have been liaising with MetService and will have a final meeting with forecasters this morning.

MetServices’ strong wind watch in Auckland lasts from 6pm on Sunday until 9am on Monday with speeds up to 130km/h possible in exposed places. Rain is forecast to fall 15 hours non-stop overnight on Sunday.

Raphael Franks is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He joined the Herald as a Te Rito cadet in 2022.

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