Kent Stead: North Island ambassador

“So many people from different walks of life have a common thread with parkrun, we’ve always got something to talk about.”

Kent Stead has been around parkrun since it’s very first event in 2012, so he’s got plenty to talk about.

He’s now a parkrun ambassador, having spent time as a run director and event director. With 255 runs to his name (and 22 events visited) he is well versed in all things parkrun.

“My wife and I used to live in Lower Hutt. We saw in the local newspaper a plug for parkrun, a free 5km.

“We’d both been doing a bit of running. We’d lived in Oxfordshire in the UK for three years and parkrun was just up and running but we’d never come across it.

“We went along and it was their first event and we got hooked. We started going relatively regularly.

“When Richard McChesney had to head back to the UK I stepped up and became a run director. He returned and shared responsibility for a while until he went back permanently.”

A new parkrun

After Kent had completed “50 or 60 parkruns” he and his family moved to Auckland due to a new job.

At that time there was only Cornwall Park or Barry Curtis for parkrunning.

“I started doing parkrun as a runner at Cornwall Park, then Millwater started up, which was more convenient for us as we were on the North Shore.

“A friend of mine decided there needed to be another parkrun in Auckand. Mike Wilkinson and I went to school together, he was my best man. I gave him a hand to get Western Springs parkrun up and running.

“Then he and his wife Sally decided to move to the UK.”

Kent got involved with Western Springs parkrun as a run director in 2015.

At Western Springs

It was when Lian and Noel de Charmoy stepped down as country managers last year that he saw the ad for parkrun ambassadors.

“I thought it would be a new challenge and that I had something to offer.

“As parkrun ambassador I support a group of parkruns, those in Auckland, plus Whangarei and Foster.

“I’m there to support them if they need a hand with anything. The group of run directors are so knowledgeable and established that very rarely do I have to help them. It’s quite nice to not be tied to a single run and I can try to see them all regularly.

New events

“My primary role is supporting with new prospective runs. There are four or five working through the process of getting set up. One has ticked everything off and we hope to start in October.”

Owairaka parkrun will be near Western Springs. It’s been set up by Julie Collard, who has been run director at Western Springs for some time.

“This event is on her back door step. It’s really exciting.

“We’re also looking at parkruns in other parts of Auckland, such as Devonport, Browns Bay and Muriwai. They’re all at various stages.”

Whether they end up as events or not is dependent on a number of factors. It’s been two years since the prospect of a parkrun in Kaitaia came up but until the council gets the park developed that’s on hold for now.

At Hobsonville Point’s inaugural with the tourists from Lower Hutt parkrun.

Like other parkrun families, Saturday mornings for the Stead family mean parkrun.

“It’s definitely a family affair. My wife Amanda has run 172 parkruns and our daughters run too. Georgia, 7, has run 26 and Mahia, 9, has run 82.  Mahia recently presented a report on parkrun to Stuff’s Kea Kids News section.

“It was a struggle at first but it’s part of our Saturday mornings; it’s what we do. It’s such a great way to start the weekend, it’s such a social event.

“We’ve something in common with all these people that in a non-parkrun life you wouldn’t cross paths with, but Saturday mornings you’re long lost friends.”

Kent can normally be found at Western Springs, it’s his closest and “the girls like to hear the lions roaring” but he’s keen for more parkruns.

“I’ve seen photos and read about parkruns in Australia that are on the beaches, that would be fun. A parkrun in Abel Tasman would be good and Petone waterfront would be great on a nice day.”

To get a new parkrun off the ground click here.

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