Nigel & Wendy: A parkrun adventure

Achieving parkrun milestones takes Nigel Milius and Wendy Hare somewhat longer than most.

The pair have been parkrunners since 2015 and 2016 respectively, but Wendy only joined the 50 club this month. Nigel is a few runs ahead on 74 – he completed his first 50 runs at 50 different events but more on that later.

The couple spend up to 10 months of the year out of the country – and typically at sea. Even when they are at home, they live more than two hours away from a parkrun.

Most of our chat was discussing the amazing adventures the pair have been on.

As wildlife guides they’ve sailed to both the Antarctic and Arctic, and have explored Nepal, Uganda, the islands around the United Kingdom and so much more on holiday – “so much world, so little lifetime,” says Wendy.

While travelling they’ve also recorded parkrun finishes in seven other parkrun countries when itineraries permitted. As well as New Zealand Nigel has run in Australia, United Kingdom, South Africa, Malaysia, United States and Norway. Wendy has run in Canada on top of these, but not South Africa.

It’s thanks to COVID-19 that they find themselves able to explore more of New Zealand, and their quest to complete all the New Zealand events.


Instead of heading down to the Antarctic they’ll be spending some time on the South Island combining birdwatching with parkrunning.

“From our home at Cooks Beach it’s quite a mission  – two and a half hours – to get to the nearest parkrun,” says Wendy.

“When you spend as little time at home as we do, it’s nice to stay at home sometimes. I do like to travel though, that’s one of the nice things about parkrun – it’s taken us to nice places.

“It’s more about being on land on a Saturday and we’re seldom on land on a Saturday! When we’ve been on ships we’ve been able to make an excuse for one of us to get to a parkrun, but for both of us it’s a bit much.”

Though as Nigel points out, that all depended on a number of stars aligning – being in port on a Saturday, at a location where there was parkrun and in time to get there, plus not being scheduled to work

Prior to lockdown the pair were hoping to visit Cape Pembroke Lighthouse parkrun in the Falkland Islands, the most southerly in the world. Flights from the UK are usually on Saturdays, meaning parkrun tourists would miss two parkrun days travelling in and out.

But thanks to their guiding experience, and some might say influence, they’d convinced the tour company, A21, to schedule their trip to take in the parkrun.

“It’s another selling point for clients,” Nigel says.

“I think it’s great there’s a parkrun in the Falklands. I think it would be great if there were one in Antarctica, not where they have the marathon but somewhere more scenic. Logistically it couldn’t happen but it would be nice.” 

The beginning

Given their vast distance from a parkrun, and their months at sea, you may be wondering how they ever got their barcodes.

It started with Nigel, who used to be a runner as a youngster. Like lots of people he stopped and didn’t find it again for around 20 years.

“I realised I wasn’t exercising enough so I started running again. This was 2009. In 2015 my sister Val (Perigo) told me about parkrun. She lives in the UK and goes to parkrun there. Her local is Longrun Meadow at Taunton and when it got stared she and her partner Phil Wilson got involved on the volunteering front, as well as running.

At Delamere parkrun with Val and Phil

“I did one at Cornwall Park, then a couple of weeks after that I was back in the UK, though it took four months to register my second parkrun.

“I got the idea of going to different ones and decided that I was going to get my 50 at 50 different courses. My 50th event was at Tamar Lakes in the UK. I’d never heard of the Hoffman club (first 50 runs at 50 different events) at that point, it was just something I thought about doing.

At Whitby parkrun in Canada
Choose your own adventure

“parkrun can be whatever you want it to be. It can be the same one every week or you can do it like I did or anything in between. With our lifestyle the concept of a home parkrun is a bit strange to us.

Yeovil Montacute parkrun in the UK

“I’ve talked about trying to complete the country and others have asked if it gets depressing when a new one starts up but it’s great as it gives us somewhere new to go.”

Jogging Deck 9

A case in point was Whanganui Riverbank, the couple visited New Zealand’s 30th event at its inaugural.

That run was very different to one of Nigel’s more infamous (not)parkruns, for which he has a custom apricot to celebrate.

“I joined the ship at the bottom of South America in Ushuaia, we’d gone from the Falkland Islands to Cape Town and Wendy was due to join us.

“We were then going to go up the west coast of Africa, which was going to be a new area for both of us. Then COVID kicked off.

“Wendy’s trip was cancelled and then I had a few issues getting home. I eventually got back from the UK in the middle of June.

“The ship was called Silver Cloud and had a jogging track on deck 9. It was bigger than other ships we go on but smaller than most. I had to run 62 laps to reach 5km. My sister got the shirt made for me.”

Sadly that visit to the Falklands didn’t coincide with a parkrun.

“I’ve been pushing for them to get involved with parkrun as I wanted to run at Cape Pembroke. They were quite keen and we’re hoping the ship will go next year and we’ll do it then. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the Falklands – it’s a fantastic place to go to.”

Silver linings

Wendy took to parkrun while Nigel was away working. One of their friends had surprised his wife by joining her at parkrun so she decided to do the same.

“I don’t have a running history like Nigel. I started in 2016 and not that long after I got a knee problem. I’d been on a horse trek in the South Island and ended up with this injury.

“When I finally got it sorted my doctor said I couldn’t run. It was no disaster as I can walk faster than when I used to run.

“My walking pace is picking up and I’m looking forward to learning more walking skills from other, faster, walkers I meet at parkrun.”

While they may have no idea what the next few months will bring workwise, they’ve been finding the silver linings.

“I’ve got an offer for mid-March to sail from South America to South Africa but whether it goes ahead or not, who knows? There are so many things out of our control,” says Nigel.

“We’re pretty lucky. We’ve no kids and we own our house. We can go off and enjoy ourselves. If Plan B is exploring New Zealand, watching birds, it’s a great opportunity to do that.”

Places where they would love a parkrun: Borneo, Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, Uganda, Antarctica

Memorable experiences: So many, but walking to an Emperor penguin colony with small chicks was “quite impressive”. “It was minus 22 but beautiful weather and a fantastic experience. The chicks are really curious and they’ll come right up to you.”

If this were a parkrun it would not be a PB course!

One reply on “Nigel & Wendy: A parkrun adventure”

Wow what an awesome story – so many adventures and wonderful Parkrun achievements. Just loved reading this!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *