As with many sports this year, the Round Rarotonga Road Race is searching for new ways to create involvement in 2020.
Each year the funds raised from the event goes towards Athletics Cook Islands sending a junior team to compete at the New Zealand Secondary School Athletics Championship but due to the borders remaining closed to international travellers, significantly less will be gained in 2020.
Athletics Cook Islands vice-president Thomas Henderson said the newly announced 3 x 31 kilometre relay format was created specifically for this year’s main event which will be held on September 19.
“We decided to introduce a relay format as a way of enticing locals who might not be up to taking on the full 31km course but would like to enjoy the atmosphere that comes with taking it on as a team,” Henderson said.
“Each year we have great involvement from locals in our 10km race so this year, why not get a couple of friends together and get around our island in a relay race.”
Starting alongside the 31km runners, the first relay runner will go through until the first changeover at the Kavera bus stop where the second runner will begin and head through to the Bahai Centre in Ngatangiia.
The final runner will then takeover and complete the final 10km through till the finish line at the Sinai Hall in Avarua.
With a large number of international athletes normally lining up on the start line, this year also brings the first ever virtual Round Rarotonga race, which was suggested by long-time supporters Greg and Heidi Gustafson.
The virtual race will be held from September 19-20.
“Heidi contacted us through our Facebook page and with her and Greg being back in the United States, she asked if we had considered a virtual option that a number of races are now introducing around the world,” Henderson said.
Through a partnership with CMS Lateral in Australia, the virtual option is now live, giving overseas competitors a chance to run 31km, 10km or a smaller 3.1km race wherever they are in the world.
“2020 has brought a number of different challenges across the board, so we are definitely thinking outside the box.
“We always get some fantastic support from our international racers each year so we are hoping this virtual option will get them through not being able to visit our beautiful island this year,” Henderson said.
As always, the key to a strong event is the team behind the scenes and Henderson is hoping that once again the great community spirit will be on display on race day.
“We are known here in the Cook Islands for our strong community involvement in many aspects of sport and are looking forward to seeing everyone out on race day, whether it be on one of our start lines but also supporting and cheering on our runners.”
Registration forms for the 31km, 10km and 3 x 31km relay are available from Destination Management Cook Islands (DMCK) in Nikao and those wanting to help volunteer on race day are asked to contact Athletics Cook Islands.