Hamilton Half Marathon, the city's unique annual running festival — famous for being the event with a distance for everyone — is back on Sunday September 29.

It was started in 2004 by Lyn Harris, who is still event director today. She recognised that other cities held a half marathon but not Hamilton.

Helping Lyn with planning and growing the half marathon was her husband, John Harris, who was well known as a runner himself and in more recent years helping with marshalling duties or looking out for stragglers.

Sadly, John died six weeks after last year's event.

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The couple were together for more than 30 years and Lyn misses him greatly.

To help work through grief and to honour his memory, Lyn has created the John Harris Memorial trophy to be contested each year in the Hamilton Half Marathon.

"It is to honour his passion for the Hamilton Half Marathon and for the sport of running and to recognise the his amazing efforts at all levels of this sport," Lyn says.

"He was involved with the event from its inception, always encouraging and urging everyone on," she says.

John competed for over 40 years in distances from the 10km to the marathon.

He ran 84 marathons, hundreds of half marathons and 10km races with a personal best time in the marathon of 2hrs 49, the half marathon 1hr 17 and the 10km 36 mins. To achieve these times, he regularly ran 100+ miles a week in training.

"Running was his true passion together with rugby union.

"His running career was cut short by knee problems resulting in both knees being replaced," say Lyn.

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"This did not deter him from exercising as he then took up cycling and walking."

To decide the winner of the new trophy the WMA age graded calculator will be used. It uses a formula to calculate an age factor for every age to give the "best possible time" an athlete of that gender and age should be able to run. The trophy will be awarded at prizegiving on event day.

Lyn says that away from the Half Marathon, John was well known in Hamilton as a menswear retailer for 50 years, for a long period at The Trouser Room.

Hamilton Half Marathon — what you need to know

A new challenge this year is the Direct Group Uniforms Personal Trainers Team Challenge.
Enter your entire team into this challenge. Team members (male or female runners or walkers) can be entered into any of the usual events (10km or 5km).

All team members don't need to be entered into the same event/distance. To enter you must have a minimum of six people and that must consist of four in the 10km and two in the 5km. The fastest times of the four in the 10km and two in the 5km will be added together.

The winner of this challenge will be the team with the fastest aggregate time. A prize from Direct Group Uniforms will be awarded.

■Events
There is a distance for everyone — Direct Group Uniforms Hamilton Half Marathon Run/Walk, TDO 10km Run/Walk, Mark Keesom Ray White Online Realty Ltd 5km Fun Run/Walk and Kindercare Kids Commando Challenge.

■Standard entry fees up to 22 September 22
Half Marathon $65
10km $50, 5km $30
Kids Commando Challenge $20
Every finisher receives a medal.
Details and registration: https://www.hamiltonhalfmarathon.org.nz/

■Welcome back Achilles
Achilles New Zealand, through their Hamilton Chapter are taking part for the second year. Achilles International was established in 1983 in New York to encourage people with disabilities to participate in mainstream athletics. New Zealand Achilles was established in 1993.

■True Colours
The event is again helping the charity True Colours Children's Health Trust. There is an opportunity when you enter online to make a voluntary donation. True Colours supports seriously ill children, their whānau and community during their time of need through counselling, nursing care and education.

■Event venue
The home of Hamilton Half Marathon since 2010 is Flagstaff Park. The Half Marathon course now takes in part of the Te Awa river trail