Inaugural City2Surf memories

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MEMORY LANE: Bruce McClelland of Ashburton was one of four who together won the first-ever City2Surf in Christchurch in 1974.
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Bruce McClelland of Ashburton is recalling memories from the first ever City2Surf fun run as the 50th annual event approaches this Sunday.

The 76-year-old won the 12km event in 1974, alongside his competitive running friends Tony Good, Gavin Donaldson and Mel Radcliffe.

In the fun-run spirit of the Christchurch event, the four crossed the finish line at the same time, shoulder-to-shoulder, in a time of 39 minutes and eight seconds.

At the time The Christchurch Star reported the four looked relaxed all the way, chatting to each other as they went and looking back to see who else was coming.

‘‘Seven miles was no sweat to this freshed-faced foursome who covered double that distance daily on training runs. Tony felt so good in fact that he was going to run back into town to pick up his gear immediately afterwards,’’ the Star reported.

McClelland said the four each got a finishers’ certificate for participating.

FUN RUN: Competitors in an earlier City2Surf event. PHOTO CHRISTCHURCH STAR FILES

McClelland was then a member of the Olympic Harriers, in Christchurch.

Running at the time was a popular sport following international success by the likes of Murray Halberg and Peter Snell; both later honoured with knighthoods. It was also the time of legends Dick Tayler, Rod Dixon and John Walker.

McClelland himself became a Canterbury track representative, won the St Martin’s 24km race and placed fifth in an international 20km road race in January 1974 which included former Olympic Australian medallists Ron Clarke and Dave Power.

‘‘It was a classy field … I got fifth,’’ McClelland said.

‘‘My best result was a fourth in a big interprovincial cross country race in Wellington later on in 1974.

‘‘The three guys ahead of me (John Dixon, Terry Manners and Brian Rose) were all New New Zealand reps. I was the first Canterbury runner home on that day.’’

McClelland hung up his running shoes by the time he was 30, wanting to take up other outdoor pursuits.

‘‘I was keen on my tramping and hunting, which always interfered with running,’’ he said.

He is now a keen mountainbiker, and has a pedal-assist e-bike.

The annual City2Surf draws more than 10,000 people. Participants can run or walk 12km or 6km, starting from Latimer Square from 9am, or Porritt Park from 9.45am, respectively. The run finishes at Rawhiti Domain, New Brighton.