Since January, 200 Rotorua residents have been putting their best foot forward as part of the Kia Tu Kia Ora - Be active, Be Well marathon clinic but this week they hit a collective speed bump.
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The free clinic - a partnership between Lake City Athletic Club, Athletics New Zealand and Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust - saw participants split into groups to train for the 5.5km, 10km, half marathon or full marathon events at the Rotorua Marathon.
With the event scheduled for May 2, their training was ramping up but on Thursday organisers announced the event will be postponed to Saturday, September 26 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the start of 2020, Daniel Fergusson-Caples struggled to run a kilometre. Since joining the marathon clinic and signing up to run the 10km at the Rotorua Marathon, his efforts doubling as a fundraiser for Rotorua Community Hospice, he is now able to run 8km comfortably.
He said when he first heard the event was postponed, he was "a bit gutted" but has since been able to find some silver linings.
"We've realised if we have more time to train and more time to raise money for Hospice, that's nothing but a good thing. I'm really relieved it's been postponed and not cancelled and now that we have more time to train we might even be able to do the half marathon by then.
"Rather than getting down and not continuing the training, we're still going to motivate each other and run as a group - albeit a small group now. We'll just continue to look forward and at doing a more challenging goal."
Fergusson-Caples said his training had been going well.
"The people we run with are just such a good bunch of people, we all motivate each other and it's a really good atmosphere. [Clinic convenor] Annemarie Gallagher is our pack mentor and her motivation and support is just amazing. She's taken time out of her life and dedicated so much towards the programme so we really feel for her and her family during these times," he said.
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Gallagher said the decision to postpone the majority of the clinic's components was a tough one, having watched the hard work and enthusiasm participants had put into it so far.
"I was in tears the night I made the decision to put it on hold because it has been a massive amount of work and the most successful marathon programme we've ever had. People are just loving it, they've been telling me it's been life changing and nobody wants it to stop.
"The clinics have been put on hold, basically we are still running but in terms of our larger gatherings we're not having our talks and not having our challenges anymore because those groups were about 100 people. I'll get together with the pack mentors in four to six weeks and then we'll re evaluate and create a new plan.
"The thing that has happened is because we have more time, people have changed their mind about the distance they'll tackle - there is a silver lining. We are encouraging our members to still continue to run, even if it's not with the group, because then if you do have exposure to the virus you're that much better off by being really physically fit."
Bay of Plenty Rugby Union announces further reaction to Covid-19
The Bay of Plenty Rugby Union has released a list of community rugby events and activities which are either cancelled or postponed.
COMMUNITY RUGBY EVENTS CANCELLED:
- Western Bay Rippa Rugby Modules.
- Bay of Plenty U16/U18 Sevens trial/training Tournament – March 21-22.
- Te Ika a Māui 7s (NISS7s) – March 30-31.
- Bay of Plenty AGM - March 25, Rotorua. Will now take place via video conference on Wednesday, March 25, 7pm.
- Women's Invitational Festival – March 28.
- Bay of Plenty Women's Club Rugby Opening Festival – April 5.
- Term one Holiday Programmes in Rotorua and Whakatāne.
COMMUNITY RUGBY EVENTS POSTPONED:
- All coaching courses are postponed until further notice.
- All Referee courses and camp postponed until further notice.
- Referee Education meetings postponed until further notice.
- All Girls Rippa Fun Festival - March 25, Rotorua postponed until further notice.
- Rippa Fun Festival – April 1, Rotorua postponed until further notice.
- FMG Community Engagement Day at Eastern Districts – April 7 postponed until further notice.
- FMG Community Engagement Day at Katikati – April 8 postponed until further notice.
- Community Engagement Days planned for Ōpōtiki (April 29) and Reporoa (April 30) will be reviewed in the coming weeks.
- Rural Rip/Rippa Fun Festival – April 9, Rotorua postponed until further notice.
- Senior Club Rugby – postponed until at least Saturday, April 18.
COMMUNITY EVENTS STILL GOING AHEAD:
Referee fitness trainings across the three sub unions will continue and the strength and conditioning coaches will be adhering to Ministry of Health guidelines around physical distancing.
Junior Rugby and Secondary School Rugby are still scheduled to start Saturday, May 2 as no decisions have been made beyond April 18 – will be reassessed as direction comes from above.