Run is a fam­ily af­fair

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By ALAS­TAIR LYNN

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.

‘‘Hope­fully I can keep up,’’ she says.

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. real fam­ily event.’’

Matt­son joined the YMCA Marathon Club in 1992 and has been an ac­tive com­peti­tor with 18 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 cal­en­der 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

It’s a there was this big pro fit­ness move­ment and a lot of them started get­ting in to 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 go and 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.’’

Proud grand­mother Jen­nifer Matt­son gets a quiet mo­ment with grandaugh­ter Amelia Meyer be­fore the Marist School cross coun­try.

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