50 runs and 50 volunteers for Rachael

Rachael Wright (A2643110) was part of a regular boot camp in Rotorua when she learned about parkrun from a dear friend.

Every Sunday Rach and Kiri Kepa (pictured left) would run a 3km loop in the Whakarewarewa Forest with Rotorua Group Challenge (RGC).

“She told me if I could run that loop, with a decent hill for a newbie I might add, I could run at parkrun. It was funny really because Kiri didn’t like parkrun as she didn’t like to run laps. I didn’t mind it too much but it would be a while before I became a regular.”

Rachael’s first parkrun was in 2017 at Rotorua’s Puarenga parkrun. Two years later Kiri died suddenly from an abdominal aortic aneurysm, aged 51.

“Kiri remains with me – and many others – to this day. We take her pounamu with us to events and when I wear it I feel her wairua (spirit) with me.

“When I’m finding parkrun tough I think of Kiri to get me through. She was fun to be around and always made our runs fly by.”

Carrying Kiri at Puarenga parkrun

Last month Rachael reached a double 50 milestone – her 50 runs and 50 volunteering occasions.

“parkrun helped me meet others, it was also part of my training plan for the Tarawera Ultra in 2017 and just recently has been part of my half marathon training plan (did someone say speedwork?).

Always there

“Puarenga parkrun has been the constant in my life, it’s something I know happens most Saturdays and even if I don’t run any other day of the week, there are people there to welcome me with open arms and run with.”

“I enjoy pushing myself out of my comfort zone, not one parkrun is the same, whether you regularly run your home parkrun or enjoy tourism. I love the encouragement, both given and received, seeing other people you know achieve their goals.

Celebrating 50 and 50

“I’d like to give my PB at Puarenga a crack again, for a long time I thought it would be unachievable.

“When I ran my PB I was in training for my ultra and super fit. I am a long way from where I was, but I would like to prove to myself that I am capable of doing it again if I put my mind to it.


“A while back I was injured and that meant no running. Being able to volunteer meant having a reason to get up on a Saturday and see others run and walk.

“I volunteer quite a bit even now, my partner is a run director. My preferred role is pre-event set-up as this means I can still contribute to our local parkrun but run as well.

“But I enjoy doing most roles. I was timekeeper quite a few times when I was injured.

“I would like to do every parkrun in New Zealand at least once. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people and a neat way to do some tourism whilst I’m at it.

“Everyone should give it a go, parkrun is the start of many great opportunities. You never know who you’ll meet or what goal you’ll achieve.

“But I can guarantee one thing; you’ll always find happy, likeminded people who are happy to have a chat about anything and nothing at all.”

3 replies on “50 runs and 50 volunteers for Rachael”

Great job Rachael – your story will inspire others to not only run but also volunteer. Carrying Kiri’s pounamu with you is a wonderful way to honour her memory – she would be thrilled with your commitment to parkrun!

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