Portenski honoured at Titahi Bay celebration
‘‘It really made for a very relaxed atmosphere and it was quite festive. It really gave this feeling of celebrating our love of running together.’’
Bernie Portenski would have loved watching the scenes which played out in Titahi Bay.
The legend of Wellington running died in February, but her legacy lives on through the Bernie Portenski Memorial Cup, which was won for the first time recently by Hutt Valley Harriers runner Isobel Franklin.
Wellington Scottish this year changed their traditional 9.1-kilometre handicapped club race around the roads, tracks and beaches of Island Bay into an event for all clubs, to commemorate Portenski.
It was an event in keeping with a lot of what Portenski was about. She was always encouraging people to give running a go, and a relaxed, jovial atmosphere took hold on Saturday, October 21, Franklin said.
‘‘One thing that was quite different is that normally when we get together with the other clubs in the Wellington region it’s in a competitive setting and there is a lot of tension and rivalry between the clubs, whereas this was the first time we’ve got together in a handicap race and it’s about competing against yourself.
‘‘It wasn’t an interclub competition, so it really made for a very relaxed atmosphere and it was quite festive.
‘‘It really gave this feeling of celebrating our love of running together, rather than the usual air of angst and competition.’’
Franklin was also a fitting winner of an event named after Portenski. She finished 66th overall in 56 minutes and one second, but won the cup by beating her handicapped time by three minutes and 29 seconds.
Ka¯piti’s Daniel Headifen was second when beating his handicapped time by 3.03, with Hutt Valley’s Peter Sparks third, 2.31 ahead of his time.
Franklin said she got a massive kick out of collecting what she described as a ‘‘just beautiful’’ trophy.
‘‘I was absolutely stunned, I still can’t really believe it. It’s not every day that you win something like that, in fact it’s probably once-in-a-lifetime.
‘‘I had a really good race for me. I ran much faster than I nor- mally do. I could tell I was doing OK because nobody went past me and I overtook about six or seven people.’’
Wellington Scottish had the two quickest runners overall, with Stephen Day the fastest in the men’s in a time of 32.31.
The fastest woman was Lindsay Barwick in 40.34, just beating Wellington Harriers’ Vicki Humphries by one second.
Ninety-two runners completed the course on Saturday, with Franklin saying she could see the event getting even bigger in the future.
‘‘I said to a couple of the organisers that I hope they don’t mind if a lot more of us come back next year because it was so much fun.’’
She wasn’t backing herself to defend the title, but said having the trophy sitting at pride of place in her home would provide her with all the motivation she needed to keep her training going.
‘‘I get to hold onto until two weeks before next year’s race, so I’ve got a whole year to enjoy it and be motivated by it, because it is really motivating to win something like that.
‘‘It’s a great honour and I feel quite privileged to be able to look after it for a year.
‘‘I’ll definitely be back and might improve my time, but the chances of winning it again, ever, are pretty remote.’’