Date: Monday, 12 August 2019

Outgoing Cycling Southland president Reece McDonald admits to both nerves and excitement as one of Southland's most prestigious sporting events gets a new leader.

Cycling Southland has appointed Sally Marr (nee Hayes) as the organisation's new major events co-ordinator, with her key task being the role of SBS Tour of Southland race director.

Marr will take over from Bruce Ross who has been at the helm of New Zealand's premier road cycling race for the past 30 years and involved for 50 years in total.

Ross will remain in charge for November's race, and will also stay on at Cycling Southland until March, which would allow a transition period for Marr who will start with Cycling Southland on September 9.

Ross has been the key figure behind the success of the Tour of Southland during the past 50 years and McDonald acknowledged the search for a replacement had been intense given the importance of the decision.

He said the process started almost 18 months ago with former Cycling Southland general manager Mark Hotton and it had continued with Nicola Wills when she stepped into the position.

"Being in charge of finding a replacement for Bruce, it's mind-numbing. We thought, 'how do you even do that'?" McDonald said.

"Bruce and the Ross family have been so important [for The Tour of Southland], it has been the Ross roadshow.

"It's a big change, it's exciting but a bit nervous as well."

McDonald was delighted that they had been able to find a replacement of the calibre of Marr.

Marr previously worked at Sport Southland as an events adviser, where she also worked as an accreditation adviser for the UCI Junior World Track Cycling Champs in 2012.  

Marr then moved into the role of major events co-ordinator with Venture Southland.

She has been assistant race director for Challenge Wanaka for the last three years and course manager for Ironman NZ for the last year.

Marr has recently worked in Canterbury as Netball Mainland's events and business relationship manager at Netball Mainland.

Marr will become the Tour's first female race director which comes a short time after Cycling Southland appointed a female general manager in Wills.

The appointments came at a time when Sport NZ had been vocal about its desire to have more females in sporting leadership roles.

McDonald said it did align to what Sport NZ was pushing for but he added the appointment of Marr and Wills was because they were standouts for the job.

Meanwhile, McDonald will stand down from the Cycling Southland president's role at its next board meeting on Monday, although he will remain on the board.

Article courtesy Stuff


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