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Prizes...John and Yvonne Shaw show the Jack Lovelock trophies which will be contested for at the inaugural Mackenzie Half Marathon. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

by Chris Tobin

Olympic champion athlete Jack Lovelock’s link to Fairlie will be acknowledged in next month’s inaugural Mackenzie Half Marathon.

The winners of both the open men’s and open women’s event will be presented with trophies bearing the 1936 Olympic Games 1500m gold medallist’s name.

“He came from Fairlie and it’s because the Lovelock name is known,” event organiser John Shaw said.

Lovelock attended Fairlie Primary School and Fairlie District High School before becoming a boarder at Timaru Boys’ High School. His father operated a transport business in the town and is buried in the local cemetery.

Shaw said the idea for the half marathon came from his wife, Yvonne Shaw, a keen runner.

“She does a run over Spur Rd and came back and said it would make a good half marathon.

“I was silly enough to say I’d organise it,” he joked.

Shaw said the event would be a fundraiser for the local Lions club and the money would go back into the community.

“It’s also about having fun and enjoying the Mackenzie.”

The event was to have been held on the Saturday of Easter weekend, to coincide with the biggest event on the Fairlie calendar on Easter Monday, the Mackenzie Highland Show. However, the race was pushed out to July due to Covid-19.

Each finisher in the half marathon, and two other events also being run on the day, a River Dip 10km and Flat Jack 5.5km would receive medals. There would not be cash prizes.

Shaw said there had been a lot of interest due to the prospect of running with the area’s spectacular Mackenzie Basin scenery as a backdrop.

“We’ve got 300 entries so far and expect a rush. Runners are notorious for not entering until the last minute.

“When we started we had no idea how many would enter, if it would be one person or 1000.”

He expected numbers could rise to 400. Interest had come also from overseas.

“We had an email from Sydney, two or three were interested in coming but because of Covid-19 that will be transferred to next Easter.”

A runner in New York City, Robert Fairlie, was disappointed he would not be able to run in the inaugural event but Shaw said they had found a solution.

“He contacted us and said because he has the name Fairlie he’d love to be able to run it.

“He’ll be doing a virtual run instead and we’ll be posting a medal to him.”

Besides getting to take in some spectacular views, runners could expect to get their feet wet.

“The half marathon and 10km runners will have five streams to go through. People have said, why not put in bridges, but sorry it’s not happening.”

Fairlie has also the Lovelock Track, a 8km shingle road, on the outskirts of the town. The half marathon will be held on Saturday, July 18, starting and finishing at the Fairlie Village Green.