Just days out from the election and On The Run hosts the debate that will decide the election and the next three years. All the party leaders accepted our invitation to debate the big running issues.

OTR: Welcome candidates. One of you will be our next prime minister.  The rest will be able to blame your poor result on James Turner and his unreasonable handicap.

OTR: To start with I would like an opening statement about what your party will do for runners.

Jacinda Ardern: Labour will keep NZ moving… on foot. We’ve closed the borders. You can’t fly so you may as well run instead.

Judith Collins: National will cut the first 3 kilometres off all your runs for the next fiscal year. We’ll return your hard-earned kilometres back to you.

Winston Peters: NZ First will get rid of the foreigners who take all the medals from our venerable Kiwi-born superannuitants. I’m looking at you Michael Wray.

James Shaw: The Greens will…

OTR: Right, moving on.  Jacinda Ardern, how will you address the high price and low supply of carbon fibre shoes?

Jacinda Ardern: I’m proposing an extension of Kiwibuild…

OTR: Moving on.

Judith Collins: National would remove the tax on carbon for farms. Farmers in carbon fibre gumboots are the backbone of our country. 

OTR: eh?

OTR: Judith Collins and Jacinda Ardern, have you ever tried performance-enhancing drugs?

Judith Collins: No, this is 100% natural.

Jacinda Ardern: Yes, but it was a long time ago – ROAR!!!!

OTR: James Shaw, what will you do to address the relatively low proportion of women competing in club running?

James Shaw: Well, we need to set an example, and that’s why the Green Party has two leaders, one man and one woman.

OTR: Yes, and where is Marama Davidson this evening?

James Shaw: I’m sorry, who?

Winston Peters: I ran the 1904 Rotorua Marathon in bare feet with the natives.

OTR: Jamie-Lee Ross, if we can ask you about interval training –

Jamie-Lee Ross: It’s a hoax.

OTR: David Seymour, what would you do to increase participation in club running?

Winston Peters: You quiet down, Sunshine. You had your turn in the eighties, your party. If you knew how to do your job we wouldn’t be in this predicament. And I’ll tell you another thing.

David Seymour: Look, the question here is not about participation it’s about achievement. You run on roads for your private enjoyment, but who pays for the roads? Hardworking taxpayers do. Do you think you’re entitled to roads? The Wainui course has the perfect layout for a toll booth. That’s my point.

Winston Peters: I’d just like to say something here. Thank you very much. 

OTR: The running community obviously cares about relatability. Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins, what kinds of shoes do you run in?

Judith Collins: I run in normal, you know, running shoes, like regular Kiwis.

OTR: Is it true that you own a special pair of racing shoes?

Judith Collins: Not at all. 

OTR: We heard that you have a pair of Nike Alphafly Next% in white with the multicoloured patterns.

Judith Collins: Absolute gutter journalism. Not true. They belong to my trust, and anyway, they’re mauve.

Jacinda Ardern: I wear a simple unpretentious neutral trainer that I always keep clean. They run on electricity.

OTR: You know that’s illegal, right?

Jacinda Ardern: It’s important to be kind.

OTR: John Tamihere, why should runners vote for the Māori Party?

John Tamihere: Exactly right.

OTR: Are you saying that you don’t want runners to vote for you?

John Tamihere: Well, am I?

OTR: We’re confused.

John Tamihere: You should be.

OTR: Obviously this year’s running season has been blighted by one big issue.

Judith Collins: Yes, and we’re going to put a stop to it as soon as we are elected.

OTR: You’re going to get rid of the coronavirus?

Judith Collins: Oh, I thought you meant the RMA.

Jacinda Ardern: I was as disappointed as anyone when the major winter events got cancelled, but this election isn’t about me. It’s about you being alive because of me.

OTR: Well, that’s all we have time for, unless any of you has one last thing you’d like to say to our readers.

Jacinda Ardern: A moment of unity!

Judith Collins: No, it’s not.