A Brief History

In 2005 the Wellington Marathon Clinic added a feature full marathon option (the Shoe Clinic Marathon) to their iconic half marathon event, which originally started back in 1986 (the ICL half marathon). Scottish runners of the calibre of Bernie Portenski, Steve Hunt and Matt Dravitski, Joseph Bulbulia, Dougal Thorburn, and Tim Hodge have dominated the half marathon event over the years.

The marathon has become a great addition to the event, ensuring the continuation of a Wellington-based marathon after the City of Wellington Marathon folded in 2009. The marathon, half marathon, 10K and Kids Magic Mile creating a mid-winter running festival for our fair city to challenge the hardy runner.

The course itself is spectacular and "potentially" fast heading out from Westpac stadium, hugging the bays and returning again. Of course the exhilarating Wellington weather means, much like a box of chocolates, you never know quite what you are going to get, although statistically a calm day punctuates a strong northerly or southerly roughly once every five years. Occasionally participants are treated to a bone-chilling southerly storm and sideways sleet and a glorious backdrop of snow on the Orongorongos (e.g. the inaugural year in 2005).

The marathon was an immediate success with 200 runners in its first year increasing to 500 by 2013 (when the event was awarded the New Zealand Championships) making it the fourth largest marathon in the country (after Auckland, Rotorua and Christchurch).

Scottish runners have had a strong association with the more recent marathon addition. Grant McLean switched from the half marathon (which he won in 1999, 2000 and 2002) to try his hand at the inaugural marathon event in 2005, winning in 2:38.27 from clubmate Matt Dravitzki.

Grant remained unbeaten through to 2009. His marathon record set in 2006 of 2:31.38 was broken in 2013 by clubmate Dougal Thorburn (2:25.33) at the New Zealand Championships. Scottish also winning the teams event. To add to the Scottish celebrations that day Katie Kemp returned to marathon racing with a win in 2:53.28 beating multiple New Zealand marathon representative Shireen Crumpton. Multiple Scottish victories have also been recorded by Scottish in the women’s event when Lotty Turnidge ran course records two years straight in 2008 and 2009 (running 3:00.57). Scot and eventual Scottish athlete Victoria Jackson was another multiple winner across 2010 and 2011.

Another Scottish regular to have performed well is Dave Parsons who has twice got close to winning the event outright; running 2:35.40 to be just 19 seconds behind 2010 winner Dan Clendon and in 2016 battling to the finish against class distance runner Ciaran Flaherty in 2016.

Highlights from recent Wellington Scottish Marathoners - Dave Parsons, 2.37.32 for second in the 2016 marathon event, Bernie Portenski finishing the 2015 half marathon in 1.37.06, 1st W60-65 and 20th female overall and Bert Prendergast running 2.47.58 for 7th in the Wellington Marathon in 2015.

Year after year many club members have demonstrated their loyalty and tackled this mid-winter gem of an event. In 2017, there has been a strong group of Scotties out training for the marathon together and so we expect to see a steady stream of yellow singlets and socks on 18 June. If you are not participating in one of the day’s events, make sure you get out and give your club mates some support along the way.


Thanks to Grant McLean for writing this brief history of Wellington Scottish and the Wellington Marathon.


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