March for ‘fitness and friendship’
Ellen Bracefield loves the challenge of marching, but isn’t worried there’s no trophy at the end.
The Porirua resident and her Kapi Mana Insteps Leisure Marching Team are busy putting the final touches on their hosting duties for the Leisure Marching Nationals, to be held at Te Rauparaha Arena on March 3 and 4.
More than 80 teams, from Kaitaia to Invercargill, will be attending the nationals, which is marking its 25th year.
Leisure marching might have military-inspired uniforms, but it does not have divisions or hand out medals or trophies like the competitive marching competitions.
The emphasis was on meeting your own standards and having fun, Bracefield said.
‘‘While enjoying ourselves is the key aim, it does take commitment, and it is a physical and mental discipline,’’ she said.
‘‘We hold ourselves up to a certain level and some of our routine is quite technical - we’re our own harshest critics.
‘‘We, and the other teams, can’t wait to show off the hard work we’ve been putting in, hopefully in front of a good audience here in Porirua.’’
While marching in New Zealand began in the 1930s - as a way to keep young women fit after the onset of the Great Depression - leisure marching’s origins can be traced back only to 1991.
It was sparked by an older group of ex-competitive marchers who wanted to promote the sport and keep active, but in a more relaxed way.
Bracefield has been with the Kapi Mana Insteps club - established in 1993 - since 1999.
She said it had a steady membership of 13, who got together once a week all-year round at the North Wellington Indoor Bowls Association clubrooms on the edge of Onepoto Domain.
Ages of participants range from mid-40s to 70, she said, and joining was often through ‘‘word of mouth’’.
‘‘It’s fun because we all have the same goal of getting better at marching, and the friendship and fitness side of things is a real bonus.’’
Along with the Kapi Mana women, teams from Kapiti, Wellington and Tawa will likely take part at Te Rauparaha Arena, where most will perform a five-minute display.
The doors open at 12.30pm on March 3 and the marching begins at 1pm with an official opening and march past. Displays will go on till 3.30pm.
The following day, displays start at 9am and concludes at 3.30pm, ending with a maze march and closing ceremony. Entry is free.