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Late course change for Canterbury and national road relay

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A historic Canterbury road relay has been forced to change its route of more than 80 years following concerns about traffic management.

The New Zealand Road Relay Championships was scheduled as part of the 82nd annual Takahe to Akaroa run.

Organisers confirmed the event would still run next Saturday, but at Bottle Lake Forest Park instead of the iconic 76-kilometre route.

Athletics NZ said Waka Kotahi told them last Friday the traffic management plan for the original route using state highway 75 did not meet the legal requirements.

A spokesperson said they worked on a solution over the weekend, but had to look for alternative options when they could not satisfy the regulatory requirements.

New speed limits were introduced to state highways 73 and 75 between Christchurch and Akaroa earlier this month with high risk 100 kmh sections reduced to 80kmh.

Athletics Canterbury Cross Country and Road Committee chairperson Annette Campbell said the Takahe to Akaroa road relay was organised by a group of dedicated volunteers focused on delivering the best outcome for all participants

“Our group was therefore very saddened to find out last Friday night, despite all our work, interactions with authorities and consultants no workable solution for running the Takahe to Akaroa on the state highway was available. This was confirmed on Monday night,” Campbell said.

“We know people will be disappointed, however we have shown we can adapt and together we have come up with a viable alternative.”

Athletics NZ competitions manager Jason Cameron said it was disappointing the event could not take place on the original course this year.

“However, we thank Athletics Canterbury for securing a new course at such short notice and for their ongoing efforts in helping prepare for what I’m sure will prove an attractive and memorable NZ Road Relay Championships for all competing teams and spectators.”

The future of the historic Takahe to Akaroa relay, and whether it would take place in future years, were expected to be discussed post-event.

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