World War II from 1939 – 1945 caused a substantial decrease in the University of Canterbury Athletic Club’s numbers and resulted in the death of a number of earlier University club members. The Hagley Memorial Baton Relay (as it was then called) became a memorial race for those members who lost their lives in the war. The first year of the Relay was 1950, run on 3rd July around South Hagley Park. In later years it has been run on the weekend closest to ANZAC day. The first race was won by the Christchurch Club. The University finally won their own relay in 1951, 52 and 53. The relay was moved to its current course in Hagley Park in 1973.
Today this event also looks to celebrate the contribution our service personnel have / do give to ensure we can enjoy the freedom to run this event. In 2021 we particuarly acknowledge their contribution to keeping our borders safe.