Prison hosts marathon

by Mike Isle

In what is believed to be a first in New Zealand 25 young  offenders and 14 prison staff at Christchurch Men’s Prison competed in marathon events without leaving the prison.

The idea was the brainchild of the Joshua Foundation’s Chris Allan, who leads the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Programme in the prison’s youth unit. 

“I suggested that the young men could complete a marathon for the physical recreation component of the award and they took to it immediately,” he said.

“They quickly became competitive and would challenge each other running the 2.2-kilometre loop within the walls of the prison.”

The full marathon was 19 laps of the course.

The event was boosted by the presence of French ‘marathon man’ Olivier Lacoua who has run 79 marathons and coached the participants.

Tom (not his real name) is typical of those who participated. When he came to the prison for drug-related offending, he could barely run 100 metres. Now he is doing laps daily. 

“It’s great to get up in the morning and do something physical,” he said.

“It is so much better than drugs and I am making my family proud of me again.” 

The marathon was won in 4 hours 30 minutes by a prisoner.