Women’s run is a real family affair
Three generations of one family are gearing up for Auckland’s longest running women’s event this Mother’s Day.
The WhyWomenRun Women’s Events have been around for 37 years and this year Jennifer Mattson, daughter Helen Meyer, and granddaughters Alexandria and Amelia Meyer are all involved.
Mattson, 76, has been competing in marathons for 23 years and has no intentions of slowing her pace any time soon.
This Sunday she will be entering the 5km run around Cornwall Park with Amelia as her running partner.
The marathon veteran says her biggest challenge will be matching the pace of her 5-year-old granddaughter.
With older sister Alexandria also competing and Helen watching on as the event organiser, the family exemplifies what the day is all about.
‘‘The idea is to participate and have fun. It’s really just for women to get out there and get involved. I think it’s great. It’s a real family event.’’
Mattson joined the YMCA Marathon Club in 1992 and has been an active competitor with 18
I can keep
up,’’ she marathons under her belt.
‘‘I started marathons years ago because it was the first time [the Auckland Marathon] was over the harbour bridge,’’ she says.
‘‘I wasn’t a particularly keen runner, I just thought it would be a good excuse.’’
The Rotorua Marathon on May 2 was Mattson’s latest pavement pounding challenge but her attention has quickly shifted to the upcoming Mother’s Day event.
‘‘It’s good fun and great to see everyone enjoying the day,’’ she says.
The women’s event has been an important date on the club’s calendar since its opening in 1978.
YMCA Marathon Club founding president Phil Cooper says the event was initially seen as a little bit unusual.
‘‘A lot of women in those days didn’t exercise but then there was this big pro fitness movement and a lot of them started getting into the gym.’’
Cooper admits the gym scene was a bit of a ‘‘men’s club’’, but the marathon club was keen to get everyone involved with the event.
‘‘Members of the club would get babysitters, the men would do the marshalling, the women would go for a morning run and then we’d have our morning tea. It was a roaring success. It became one of the largest events in Auckland.’’
The event began as a social family gathering then started attracting large numbers and a competitive edge. ‘‘We never really intended it to get competitive but as more and more people caught on it ended up
that way,’’ she says.
Proud grandmother Jennifer Mattson gets a quiet moment with granddaughter Amelia Meyer before the Marist School crosscountry.