News & Updates

12 September 2022 • Road

Takahe2Akaroa inspires Wahine project

The Takahe Journey for Wahine is helping inspire a group of teenage women to embrace running through the iconic Takahe2Akaroa Relay

For the second year in succession teenage girls from a trio of schools in the Canterbury region will be given the opportunity to compete in the iconic Takahe2Akaroa relay with the goal to raise participation levels among young females.

The Takahe Journey for Wahine was launched in the countdown to the 2021 edition of New Zealand’s premier road relay event with girls aged 15 to 18 from Cashmere High School, Rangiora High School and Christchurch Girls’ High School competing in the eight-lap 76.6km relay.

Such was the success of the inaugural year of the project the three competing schools will return for this year’s event to be staged on Saturday 1 October, which also doubles as the New Zealand Road Relay Championships.

Annette Campbell of Athletics Canterbury co-ordinates the project and she said: “Like every other centre Athletics Canterbury has seen a big dip in female participation rates, particularly during the teenage years. We thought about how we could inspire those teenagers, so we successfully applied to Sport Canterbury through the Tu Manawa fund and got the money to support a team each from three different schools and a coach for each school.”

Annette insists that last year was an overwhelmingly positive experience for the 24 participating girls who got to challenge themselves by running relay legs of between 6.8km and 10.7km across the stunning Canterbury landscape.

“We did a post-event survey and 20 girls responded with many talking about the confidence gained and how the experience helped push them through their comfort zone, adds Annette.

“Many of the girls weren’t previously runners, so it was really satisfying to see the girls achieve something they didn’t previously think was possible and to see this was also immensely satisfying for their coaches too.”

Annette believes that this year’s event will also prove a big success with the coaches able to take their learnings from 2021 and refine their approach for this year’s event.

While the team nature of the relay adds a whole new dimension for the participating teenagers.

“To me that is the secret of it,” she says. “They really enjoy being a member of a team as it gives them a greater sense of both involvement an achievement compared to running as individuals.”

Bee Ruder, the sports and rec co-ordinator at Christchurch Girls’ High School, helped guide the team at the 2021 edition of Takahe2Akaroa and plans to do so again next month.

A member of the local Sumner Running Club, Bee is fully aware of the attraction of the Takahe to Akaroa relay and she admits the event proved a huge hit with the participating girls last year.

“It was definitely a success,” she says. “The girls loved it. They had no idea beforehand about the race tradition or how it was organised, but they thought it was really cool to run as a team. None of them came from a running background, so it was good that they challenged themselves by following a training programme. It was a fun day out.”

Two girls remain from the team of 2021 for this year’s event – and the team meet once a week for group training. Bee has also given all team members a training schedule to run between four and five times a week – which combines a long run, tempo workouts and speedwork.

The spate of sickness and flu bugs has made it a challenge for many to maintain consistent training, according to Bee. However, she believes the team element of the event will bring the best out of the girls on the day.

“It is really important because running as a relay they’ll put more effort in to support the team,” she adds.

“I just hope that have a fun day out and enjoy some good running. This we hope will give the girls more confidence and the skills to stay involved in the sport in the future.”

***To enter the 2022 Takahe2Akaroa which doubles as the 2022 New Zealand Road Relay Championships go here.

Entries close on Monday 19 September at 5pm.

X