Despite horrible wet conditions, around 200 brave runners and walkers took on the elements at the Wanganui Harrier Club's annual Marton to Whanganui Relay on Saturday.

Starting in heavy morning rain from Marton Park and then following the Turakina, Whangaehu and Matarawa valleys, the teams and individual entries made their way to the finish at the Wanganui East Club.

First combination home were the Whanganui 2-person team 'Pecka Heads', consisting of Coast to Coast and Mountains to Sea veterans Ashley Christie and Josh Payne, who completed the journey in five hours, 30 minutes and 31 seconds.

Two combinations from the Feilding Moa Harriers took out the minor placings with Emma Crum and Tammy Reed coming second while Deb Arnold and Dave Walters were third.


Six hardy souls competed as solo runners and each completed the 66.37km total distance.

First home was Geoff Ness in 6h 18m 48s, followed by Carl Laffan and Barb Carson.
Impressively, Albie Jane from Stratford finished in fourth place on the occasion of his 65th birthday.

The team from Stratford Runners & Walkers were the top Composite team, completing the course in 7h 40m 16s with a mixed group of runners and walkers.

The Running Team relay was won once again by Trentham Rabbits, followed by Napier Harriers and Wanganui Harriers.

It was the fourth time in the past five years a Trentham team has won this title, with their 4h 13m 7s time being over 30 minutes ahead of the nearest rival.

Wanganui Harrier's womens team were the first female group home to claim victory in that section.

The closest race of the day was in the Walk Team event.

Ivor Better Team of the Taranaki Race Walkers held off the strong finishing Al's Mob (Manawatu Striders) by just two minutes, with the second Taranaki group Ivor Good Team only another two minutes and 18 seconds further back in third.

Four teams competed in the Junior Relay, which was held over the last 26.76km of the adult course.

Wanganui Harriers White were first home in a time of 1h 50m and 22s, while second place went to Wanganui Harriers Blue, with Kapiti Harriers and Manawatu Striders completing the field.

One leg record was broken in the Junior Race as Wanganui Harriers White's George Lambert took nearly a minute and a half off the best time for Leg 3, previously held by a Hutt Valley Runner.

In a new initiative, this year the relay supported the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter, with a portion of the entry fee being donated to their trust.