Behind the Race— RACE09
Firstly, for those that aren’t familiar with the concept, could you please give us a brief overview of RACE09, what it is and how it works?
RACE09 is an unsanctioned, night street race where runners pick their own route through the city to reach a series of checkpoints before heading back to the finish. Runners only find out the checkpoint locations 30mins before the start time and have that time to plot their route and race plan.
Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and how RACE09 got its start?
I’ve been a runner since I was a young kid a the local athletics club. I’ve grown up competing on the track and with that travelling the country (and sometimes the world) for running. I like to think I’m a pretty handy runner when I need to be. I fell into photography towards the end of high school and really pursued an artistic and authentic approach to sports photography. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with brands such as ASICS and Adidas to create local campaign imagery.
What was/is the main motivator behind RACE09?
Between myself and RACE09 co-founder Dan, we both really saw the gap in what runners had access to in the city and the potential for running in Auckland. Running in NZ is very old school still, and Auckland as a city has never really been known for it’s culture. I think both of those things have been changing for the better over the last five years and we saw an opportunity to really contribute to both running and the city in a unique way.
What sets RACE09 apart from other big city street races?
I think being from a smaller city we’ve really focused on having a great social side to RACE09, we’ve had some races devolve into some pretty wild nights and some great running crews have come about as a result of people meeting at RACE09. The level of personal connection, seeing regulars at each race, and making it about having a great time is really important to us.
How has the New Zealand running culture changed over the last few years, taking into account the global pandemic and whether this had a positive or negative impact on the running community?
I believe more people are seeing the growing and exciting side of running globally and channelling that locally. There are more runners looking for something different, exploring the sport for the first time, or just pulling international running culture in to NZ. I see more people in boutique brands such as Ciele, Satisfy and Tracksmith around the city. I see more people rocking super shoes for workouts around the local hot spots. I see more people getting involved with running outside of the traditional structures of the sport.
This somewhat feels driven by the global pandemic, as more people have fallen in to running over this time, but I also feel this change was accelerated by the pandemic rather than caused by it. The change in running culture was coming to NZ, and the pandemic just helped it arrive a little faster.
What do you envision for the future of the franchise, is this something you would like to take global?
I think we want to build a fantastic event in NZ that helps to really push the sport forwards. We have experimented with races outside of Auckland and we are 100% working on creating more experiences around the country. Globally, we’d love to be a strong collaborator with the running world. I believe taking the unique approaches from different crews and events around the world and combining forces with them is a way to create some next level races and running experiences.
If you could recommend one place to run in New Zealand, where would it be?
This is a hard question to answer because I have a pet love for my local park here in Auckland - Cornwall Park and I also loved running along the lake in Wanaka. So take your pick there.