Auckland's Queen Street mile race is to return after a 30-year absence.
Olympic gold medallist Sir John Walker is behind the organisation of what he hopes will be an annual event, called the Queen Street Golden Mile, starting on Easter Monday, April 1, next year. The event will raise money for his Find Your Field of Dreams Foundation charity.
Unlike the earlier street miles, which focused on elite athletes, next year's event will also be open to the public.
Auckland Council will back the event for three years. Mayor Len Brown, who joined Walker in announcing the event today, said it was not intended to rival the popular Round the Bays fun run or Auckland Marathon. Numbers would be capped to 4500 for the first year.
Organisers are in talks with Nick Willis, New Zealand's Olympic medallist, but the new course means the old race record of Kenyan Mike Boit won't be broken. The race will start on Mayoral Drive and finish on Queens Wharf. The old start was on Karangahape Rd, with runners taking a sharp right-hand turn on to the steepest section of Queen St.
In the last race held in 1983, Boit scorched the course in 3min 28.3sec. It was his first attempt at a street mile and remains the fastest time ever recorded over a mile.
A year earlier, Walker competed in his first and only Queen Street mile, finishing fourth. He said it was a "frightening but exciting'' experience.
"In those days you started just around the top of Queen St into Karangahape Rd,'' he said. "It was a mad scramble to get around the corner first, then go flat out down the hill and finally catch your breath when the road flattened out. It was punishing on the legs but a real thrill with thousands of people lining both sides of Queen St.
"It is our hope that each Easter Monday for the next three years, at least, we can repeat those crowds, having made a change to the race start which should be more user-friendly for all runners.
"It will be a unique experience. You can run a mile on a track or while pounding the streets any day, but it is hard to beat the thrill you get from running down Queen St with crowds packed both sides of you.''
The organisers hope to work the event in with the New York Fifth Avenue Mile, which is held in September.
The Queen Street mile was first run in 1972, lapsing for 10 years before it was re-run in 1982 and 1983.
Queen Street Mile records:
1972: Winner Tony Polhill (NZ) in 3m 47.6s
1982: Winner Steve Scott (USA) in 3m 31.25s
1983: Winner Mike Boit (Kenya) in 3m 28.3s
Fastest time for a track mile: 3m 43.13s, set by Hicham El Guerrouj, of Morocco, in 1999