This year’s Coastal Five event is shaping up to be the biggest yet in a way that will honour one of its founders who left our community late last year.
Dreamt up by Suzanne McCarthy and the late Mark Turner, the Coastal Five is an event that celebrates Taranaki’s unmatched scenery, community connection, individual achievement and participation.
It is fast-becoming one of New Zealand’s most intriguing running and walking events, with entries doubling between its inaugural year in 2021 and 2022, and looking likely to double again in 2023.
Participants have the choice of running or walking all five events over the weekend to achieve an individual marathon distance, or to pick and choose the events that appeal most to their fitness, motivation, or scenery preferences.
McCarthy says events range from the shortest Shoe Clinic Devon Mile of 1.6km, to the Fitstop Half Marathon, which meant there was something for everyone.
“I think that’s what makes this event special and possibly the reason why we’re experiencing such positive growth.
“For the runners competing in all five events there is a strategy to think about in how they tackle each event. It’s a real challenge for competitive runners. And for people just getting started on their running, or those who enjoy short distances, you have the option of something as small as a 1.6km or 4km,” she says.
The various routes will take you along the Coastal Walkway, through Pukekura Park, into the bush at Pukeiti, around the picturesque Lake Mangamahoe, or straight up the guts of New Plymouth’s main street.
The courses are certainly like no other which McCarthy says is a common compliment received by out-of-towners who travel for the event.
“The feedback has been amazing each year from visitors who just enjoy running or walking through our landscapes. The people who compete in all five events also love that they’ll meet someone in one event, then see them multiple times again throughout the weekend. By the Devon Mile at the end, they walk away having made some special connections which they look forward to seeing again the following year.”
This year’s event will hold extra weight for McCarthy and members of Taranaki’s running and triathlon groups, with it being the first Coastal Five to take place without co-founder, Turner, who lost his battle with mental illness in December 2022.
“I know there will be a lot of people out there running for Mark, or thinking about him while they’re running. He was such a huge part of building this event and it will be a special time for us all to connect with him again in our own way, throughout the weekend.
“I’m a huge advocate for the benefits of exercise on mental health and part of the purpose of this event is to inspire people to create a goal that they can train for, get them moving and provide them with a sense of accomplishment.”
In addition to the individual aspect of the festival, there is also a team challenge, where groups of 2-5 people can split the events between them in order to complete all five. This offers a great opportunity for corporate teams of different running levels to achieve something together, or various sports clubs and codes to face off against each other in a “clash of the codes” type feel.
“We’d love to see rugby clubs, netball clubs, cricket versus basketball, speed golf or football teams competing against each other for the title. I know we have a competitive community out there so it’s always exciting to bring an element of competition for those who enjoy that.”
For the Devon Mile event, kids who enter will also receive medals and spot prizes, while also putting their school in the draw to win one of three major prizes.
“Our Active Kids programme is aimed at getting kids involved, and it’s been great to see all different ages enter either the Devon Mile, or the 4km and 5km events. It really brings a family vibe to the event. Many of our runners have enjoyed finishing their five races at the Devon Mile, with their kids joining them in that last race.”
Local award-winning establishment, Three Sisters Brewery, will be hosting an after party following the conclusion of the Devon Mile, offering beer tastings and food for participants.
The weekend is scheduled for November 18-19 and early bird entry prices are still available. For more information head to www.coastalfive.co.nz.