The Parallel Lives of Claire and Jackie

Earlier this month (August 2020), there was a post in the parkrun discussion group on Facebook about the first Bushy event prompting group members to comment on how they came to participate.

Claire Taylor, co-Event Director at Millwater parkrun, commented that she was introduced by her dad, Trevor Mason.

Then Jackie Hancock, Event Director at Pegasus parkrun, said she was introduced by her uncle, Trevor Mason.

Two UK women, both in New Zealand (one North Island, one South Island), both involved with parkrun to the same degree.

“Our lives have gone in such similar directions, it’s really strange,” says Claire.

“We’ve known each other our whole lives. I’m a year older and we’ve got photos of each other in our mum’s arms.”

Growing up

Jackie says their parents have been friends for decades, going back to their own youth.

“My mum and dad supported Trevor after his wife died so we’ve always called him Uncle Trevor. I’m Auntie Jackie to Claire’s two kids.”

The pair didn’t grow up together, but would see each other a few times a year. They both ended up in London doing teacher training and both did Camp America the same year.

“Neither of us knew the other had applied until we both turned up for orientation,” says Claire.

“We were at the airport the same day to leave for camp, but we didn’t go to the same one.

“I met Iain, my husband, in London, and he’s the reason I came over to New Zealand.

“Jackie and I got married the same year – such parallel lives.”

A Decision is Made

Jackie and her husband Simon decided to go to New Zealand for their honeymoon. By then Claire and Iain had made the decision to move – they had a year in New Zealand in 2003 and moved permanently in 2006.

“Claire marrying Iain was probably the first thing we heard about New Zealand and how lovely it was.

“We lived in London and wanted to move out of London so we got married in 2005 and in 2006 came out for a honeymoon and did a three week tiki tour of mostly the North Island.

“I’ve friends in Christchurch from Camp America so we included it on the trip. It was cold, wet and we got lost in the one-way system.

“We were at Hanmer Springs talking about living here and an Englishman there said it was the best thing you will ever do, we we filled in the forms that night.

“We moved here in 2008 and went straight to Claire’s house. We had a couple of weeks there before moving south.

“Earthquakes aside, it’s the best decision we’ve ever made. Then Uncle Trevor came to visit in 2016.”

Claire’s First parkrun

Wind back a couple of years to September 2014 when Claire returned to the UK for her sister’s wedding.

“By then I was approaching 40 and was a bit overweight and unfit so I joined Weight Watchers and lost 18kg and then did the Couch 2 5K programme.

“I’d just finished the programme by the time I got home.

“My dad really enjoyed running. He told me about this new thing that had just started at Kesgrave.

“I’d never done an organised 5km before. I didn’t have any proper running clothes. we went along and I crossed the finish line with him. It was their second event. I loved it.

“Dad said they were all over the world so we looked up one near home and found Millwater had started the same weekend.

“I didn’t go and I didn’t go but then I went over and introduced myself. They were lovely people.

“Then I finally went along and for three years in a row I won the female points prize – not for speed but for attendance. I felt like I was finally achieving in something. I’d never been sporty.

“I’ve just carried on parkrunning and it’s become a huge part of my life.

“The event directors trained me up as a results processor in 2015 – they’ve since moved away – and I’ve been the event director’s wingman since as he doesn’t do social media. Just after the first lockdown he told me he’d made me co-event director, so here we are.”

Jackie’s First parkrun

Back to January 9, 2016 and Trevor is visiting Jackie.

“He’s parkrun mad. He made us drive to Hagley, because Pegasus hadn’t yet started, so we did Hagley parkrun as our first.

“I think I moaned and whinged my entire way around. It was slow and painful, but then Geoff started Pegasus up here and we kind of thought that because it was a kilometre from our door that we couldn’t avoid it.

“Simon is more of a runner than I am but we went to the first one.

“We were saying we’re not going to get involved, we’re not going to go every week, not going to volunteer lots, famous last words! But we love it.

“We love the community and where we run is beautiful. It’s a beautiful parkrun and everyone says that about their home parkrun.

“Uncle Trevor thought it was great. I think he was really pleased. We’ve been up a few times to Auckland and run Millwater with Claire.

“I think Uncle Trevor likes the fact that parkrun is encouraging us to meet up, not that we need an excuse. It gets us running together, which is cool.”

Sharing The Love

Claire says that parkrun is now a big part of her life, she’s scheduled weekends away to coincide with running a new event and she seizes every opportunity if on holiday in a parkrun location.

She’s delved into the parkrun podcasts since the initial lockdown and is planning which other events she’d like to do, including a trip to Bushy the next time she’s back in the UK.

There was a run in Sydney when on a girls’ weekend and she’s ticked off nine New Zealand events to date.

Meanwhile Jackie is spreading the parkrun love with other family members.

“We did a parkrun with Uncle Trevor when we went back to the UK. I made my whole family do Thetford parkrun. There was my mum, dad, sister, two nieces and nephews, auntie, two cousins, my friend Marie and three of her five children and another auntie and uncle as well.

“My dad goes to one locally occasionally but he’s more of a cyclist than a runner. My sister now goes to a parkrun in Gloucester.

“We went to Bushy and Simon had talked to one of his colleagues at work about it and discovered his cousin was involved with the core team – she was RD the day we went.

“My mother-in-law has done one at Medina (Isle of Wight) and I got my best friend doing one with me. She came her and did Pegasus. Shes at Kapiti Coast about two minutes from the Kapiti Coast parkrun.

“If it hadn’t been for Uncle Trevor I don’t think it would have been on our radar so much. With Claire getting more and more involved at Millwater that probably would have helped with our decision to go along.”

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