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Starting blocks . . . Runners competing in the 50th anniversary of Kelly's Canter take off from the starting line. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Constable Bert Kelly’s jaunt is still being celebrated half a century on.

The former Palmerston police officer ran to the summit of Puketapu Hill checking for incoming ships during World War 2, and his hike led to the introduction of Kelly’s Canter, which celebrated its 50th anniversary on Sunday.

The 4km running and walking event, hosted by the Palmerston Lions Club, has a steep 343m climb up the hill and two members of Const Kelly’s family were among the 65 competitors.

Other family members were there to support the event throughout the day.

His great granddaughter and cousin provided trophies to celebrate the fastest athletes and descendants to cross the finish line, club treasurer and canter co-ordinator Eileen Birtwistle said.

“It was pretty special,” she said.

Dunedin’s Jonah Smith was first home, in a time of 20min 40sec, and Bea Tomlinson was the first female home, recording 26min 05sec.

The weather held off to make for perfect running conditions and narrow racing through the categories.

“It was a really good fun day . everyone enjoyed themselves, and it was a bit more special with it being the 50th,” Mrs Birtwistle said.

All athletes were presented with a medal by Waihemo ward councillor Peter Newton at the conclusion of the event, and there was a special cake to honour the occasion.