Despite pouring rain and single digit temperatures, almost 4,000 participants made every step count at Sunday’s ASB Christchurch Marathon, helping to raise $20,000 for Youthline.
For every participant who crossed the ASB line just 20 metres past the finish line, ASB donated $5, presenting the charity with a cheque for $20,000 at the prize giving ceremony – enough money for about 25 new volunteers.
"We wanted to contribute in a really meaningful way to this year's ASB Christchurch Marathon, and in a way that everyone who participated in the event would be able to get behind and support," says ASB head of community and sponsorship Mark Graham.
"Thanks to those participants going an extra few steps, Youthline will be able to bring on more volunteers to help New Zealanders in times of crisis," says Graham, "and that’s something we're incredibly proud of."
Youthline chief executive Shae Ronald says the money will be used to support new volunteers around the country, with a portion designated specifically to the Christchurch call centre.
"We're always looking to grow our volunteer base but training these volunteers to be able to handle the stressful situations they may find themselves in is a process that requires investment. ASB's generosity will enable us to train up to 25 new volunteers which equates to about 500 conversations each month. Which is a lot," says Ronald.
"Demand for our services, and the intensity of what we are working with continues to increase and this funding will have a significant and meaningful impact for us, and the people we help on a daily basis," says Ronald.
The initiative is one of several community-based projects ASB has helped support through its sponsorship of the ASB Christchurch Marathon, including the 2017 initiative 'Run back the Tracks' where the distance run by race entrants correlated to funding from ASB to help rebuild running tracks through the Port Hills, following fire damage earlier in the year.
ASB Christchurch Marathon race director Chris Cox says this year’s Youthline donation was an added incentive for many participants.
"ASB's determination to assist the community by supporting the ASB Christchurch Marathon has added a new dimension to our event," says Cox.
"Since the earthquakes and more recently the mosque shootings, Christchurch is becoming more and more civic-minded. Participants want to 'run for a reason' and ASB’s Youthline initiative was a great reason."
Youthline was established in 1970 to provide support to young people in need and has more than 48 years' experience working with young people and their families throughout New Zealand. Initially set up as a telephone counselling helpline service, for youth and run by youth, it is today a first point of contact for young people in New Zealand to access a wide range of youth development and support services across the country.
In the year to March 2018, Youthline worked with over 41,000 individual young people and managed over 298,730 digital connections through its hubs nationwide.
The free Helpline is staffed by volunteer counsellors who are supervised by a clinical team of Triage staff. The free Helpline services are only minimally government funded.
Now in its 39th year, the Marathon returned to its original start and finish line at the Christchurch Town Hall, after an eight-year rebuild following earthquake damage.
Inspired by the 1974 Commonwealth Games marathon, the ASB Christchurch Marathon is renowned as one of the fastest courses in the world, and runs past iconic landmarks such as the Christchurch town hall, Hagley Park and the Avon River.
The event features the 42.2km full marathon, the 21.1km half marathon, a 10km and the Kids' Mara'Fun. This year the event also played host to the New Zealand Marathon Championship.