History of the Whenuapai Half Marathon

Formerly known as the Pinepac Half Marathon, the event was started in 1987 by a small group from Anderson & O’Leary Ltd and the Massey Athletic Club.
Bruce Anderson, the managing director of Anderson & O’Leary, approached the Massey Athletic Club with the idea of an event based at Pinepac, his Whenuapai business location, which encircled the Whenuapai Air Base and Herald Island.The Pinepac Group sponsored the costs to provide the signage and prizes. The major prize for the winner of the race was travel costs to a similar event in Australia.
The event was then changed from a race, where the winner took the major prize, to a fun event where the major prize, a $2000 travel prize voucher, became a random draw giving every competitor the chance to win the big one.1988 StartIn the early years there was only the one event, a half marathon race with one start and finish point for walkers or runners most of whom were registered athletes. Anderson and his staff moved pallets of timber along the road-side outside his business to provide grandstands and a truck was used as the stage for the prize giving. If the weather was bad this was held in one of the large sheds of the Pinepac timber mill.In 1990 a 5K Fun Run was introduced, then a 10K Fun Run and Walk was added making the event something the whole family; mum, dad and the kids, could all participate in.

Once it had become an established event, Anderson and his company left it for another sponsor to take up the challenge. There is no doubt had it not been for the idea and finance provided by Bruce Anderson to get it started, the events would not have been born.

Club Physical took over as the major sponsor in 2001 and has continued their support of the event until 2017, while the Whenuapai School now provide their grounds and facilities as the event headquarters and finish area.

Over the past 24 years the half-marathon course has had minor changes, but still encircles the Whenuapai Air Base and Herald Island. Our records show that the fastest time for the half-marathon to date, was in 1990 when Paul Herlily of Tauranga won in 65 minutes and 35 seconds and the second placed runner, Russell Haswell from Takapuna ran 68:06. There were 515 competitors in that race. Since the 10K events and Half Marathon Walk were introduced the total number of competitors is now around 600-700.

Although for the first 21 years there was no “Traffic Management” requirement the event was conducted without any traffic incidents, which was due largely to the tolerance and co-operation of the local residents who have always been kept well informed by the organisers of the date and time that the event was to be held. In more recent years however traffic movement around the rural roads of Whenuapai and Herald Island has become more of a problem. The stringent Traffic Management regulations, requiring the approval of both the Waitakere City Council and the Police, have meant the course used for the event is well marshalled and managed for the safety of all competitors.

In 2010 the Massey Athletic Club introduced electronic chip timing devices to give competitors accurate race times.

The proceeds from this annual event are the main source of revenue that enable the Massey Athletic Club to keep providing facilities, equipment and affordable registration fees to enable Massey and West Harbour families to participate in track and field athletics and cross country running at Moire Park.

Compiled by Keith Foster and Kim Osborne