31 May 2015

Thousands cheer on marathon runners

2:47 pm on 31 May 2015

A crowd of people has piled into Christchurch's Cathedral Square to cheer on runners in the city's annual marathon.

Japanese runner Hiro Tamymoto wins the Christchurch Marathon in just under two hours and 25 minutes.

Japanese runner Hiro Tanimoto crossed the finish line in just under two hours and 25 minutes. Photo: RNZ / Georgina Stylianou

Despite a frosty morning with sub zero temperatures, more than 5000 runners have turned out.

The annual race is back in the central city for the first time since 2010 and the new course takes in parts of the central city being rebuilt and the residential red zone.

The start and finish are in Cathedral Square and thousands of people have been cheering on runners completing the 10 kilometre, half and full marathon courses.

A Japanese runner, Hiro Tanimoto, was the first marathon runner to cross the finish line - in just under two hours and 25 minutes.

More than 5000 people took part in this year's Christchurch Marathon.

More than 5000 people took part in this year's Christchurch Marathon. Photo: RNZ / Georgina Stylianou

Rebecca Hodgson, 21, from Timaru, said the new course was beautiful but she had not realised how badly damaged the city's eastern suburbs were.

She said running through the red zone was difficult because there was nothing to look at and she was surprised at how many homes had been demolished.

Despite the challenges, she hoped the course would be the same next year.

In preparation for the race, organisers had to fill potholes on red-zoned roads.

Race organiser Michael Jacques said he was happy with the turnout and said it was "great" to have the race back in the central city.

"A lot of people really liking it and a lot's changed in the city now, just in regards to which way even roads go, not an unknown for us but certainly a new course for us and so the first year was always going to be the toughest."

Road closures have caused some traffic problems in and out of Christchurch but there are no reports of any major congestion.

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