Andy Mears – the people’s parkrunner

For someone whose home parkrun is the most northerly, Andy Mears has travelled far and wide, popping up at parkruns to celebrate other parkrunners’ milestones.

He’s been present at Whangarei parkrun since its launch in February 2016.

“Around that time I was jogging around the Whangarei Heads area, when a visiting friend  from the Manchester area of the UK suggested I should get into parkrun and my response was ‘Whatever is that?’.

“I’d never heard of it so I looked it up and found the event director Jim (Kettlewell) was advertising that it was about to start in Whangarei. I couldn’t believe it! 

“I went to the first one and the rest, as they say, is history. I’ve been going ever since, whether it’s running or volunteering.”

At Whangarei parkrun with Steve Darby (blue 500 shirt), run director Martin Harrap (red 50 shirt) and present event director Ron Crowhurst (yellow shirt).

Now he’s been parkrunning for four years he’s got to know a lot of parkrunners from various parkruns, discovering ironically some time afterwards that several runners at Whangarei’s inaugural were visitors from Lower Hutt. 

“Everyone at the inaugural were very friendly. I didn’t realise how many people there were because it was the inaugural.

“When I look back now, knowing that, there are people who have become friends and contacts, like the Lower Hutt mob. The over-riding thing is the friendliness.”

parkrun tourism

Andy is currently on 30 events, he’s run in four countries and on both New Zealand islands.

Andy (left) with Hannah Oldroyd and Geoff Macmillan at Pegasus parkrun.

As an expat Brit he’s taken advantage of trips back to the UK by visiting parkruns close to his old home – and his wishlist is growing.

But what most people tend to know about are the mishaps that have befallen Andy along the way.

“There was a trip down to Wellington where we ran one official parkrun and then drove to the others for freedom runs the following day. 

“The idea was that I’d follow the bus but then I thought I could find my way using GPS and I did all right until the lunchtime stop. 

“I was going to make my own way to Palmerston North but sadly GPS sent me the wrong way. I ended up in Upper Hutt!” 

Then there was the time he was in Cornwall with the intention of running Eden Project.

“I checked at the last minute and Eden Project parkrun  was cancelled for that day .. the nearest alternative was Lanhydrock, but at least I can say I’ve run one of the hardest parkruns in England. 

“Another mishap was on the Isle of Wight and didn’t know they had summer and winter courses. Narrowly missed turning up to completely the wrong location!” 

“And when I went to St Andrews parkrun in Scotland I didn’t know they started later. I got there expecting a 9am start and thought I’d got something completely wrong and then people finally started showing up – they start at 9.30am in Scotland. 

“And then I thought I was  being clever running three countries in three weeks with parkruns in England, Scotland and Wales. But they’re all considered the same country – the UK.” 

St Albans parkrun, UK

A reason to run

Regardless of the mishaps, one thing is for certain – Andy loves running parkrun and meeting other parkrunners.

“It’s the competition with yourself. However you feel you just turn up and do it – and I love it.

“I’ve discovered now that because I’ve run a few New Zealand courses I’m lucky that if I turn up the chances are high that there will be someone I know there.” 

Andy went to the inaugural at Palmerston North and has followed that up with running at their anniversary events also.

When in Australia visiting friends he went to Mosman parkrun and people there already knew to expect him.

He travelled down to Rotorua to celebrate my 100th parkrun, to Hamilton to celebrate Dean King‘s 250th and to Pegasus to celebrate Steve Darby’s 500th parkrun.

“Except I travelled to what would have been Steve’s 500th but he’d got himself injured so when I first got there it was his 493rd parkrun. I went back for his 500th.

“I love the people attached to the whole thing.”

Doing a Scottairplane at Whangarei parkrun


There are many parkruns on his wishlist for a variety of reasons – Fountains Abbey in the UK for its scenery, Wycombe Rye because he’s struck up a rapport through his lockdown report writing, Woolacombe to relive family holidays and many more. 

“I want to get to 50 different parkruns. Running all in New Zealand isn’t a must for me – as soon as I do it I know they’ll add new ones. When you live at the top of the North Island it’s challenging.”

As for where he’d like a new parkrun to pop up – Kerikeri, Kaitaia or even Mangawhai or Ruakaka to give him nearish events to run as an alternative to Whangarei.

In his new apricot shirt to remember his friend Amanda who died from cancer. “She always laughed and said I suffered from OCD where parkrun was concerned.”

9 replies on “Andy Mears – the people’s parkrunner”

Thank you for driving all that way to visit Puarenga parkrun for my 100th. It meant a lot to me that someone who I had only met once would do that.
Andy is the epitome of parkrun.

Fantastic write up Andy, always great to catch up with you, thought the top image were the Wiggles, had to have a second look????

Nice read there Andy. I do enjoy our friendly banter. From one of “the Lower Hutt Mob” 🙂

Certainly a special memory for me on my 250th parkrun was to have my Mum and Dad, my wife and Andy having driven from Whangarei and Steve from Auckland there. I told lots of people about that. It is people like Andy that makes parkrun mean what it does to me

A great few words about a man that I am lucky to run with up here Whāngārei. An inspiring man who is very thoughtful and the kind of person that if you where playing a team event you would want on your team. parkrun is a special kind of “”team” with the number of players changing week by week but rest assured Andy will be there and will assist where he can.

What a great write up.

Sums it all up nicely ????

And what’s wrong with going to a 493rd? ????????

Whangarei parkrun would not be the same without Andy, he’s always coming up with idea’s to mark people’s achievements. Thanks Andy for your contributions to parkrun.

So pleased to have met you at Lower Hutt and then the 5 x parkruns in one day Adventure. Happy parkrunning and volunteering!!

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