The parkrunner who found his soulmate

Stu Leslie entered an event for the bling, little did he know that it would lead to a bride.

Stu lives in Upper Hutt, New Zealand. In 2016 he entered one of the larger running events on the calendar, Round The Bays half marathon. 

“The principle sponsor Cigna had set up a facebook group to help and encourage competitors.

“In there I met Anthony Beckett who lived close by so we went for an after work training run one night and Anthony told me all about parkrun. So I registered, turned up, ran fast, but still got passed by lots of much older, slower athletes.

“I entered Round The Bays because I really wanted one of the huge bling medals that half marathon finishers get. I thought I’d get in some sort of shape, run the half, get the medal, and then return to my former full time sport of mountainbiking.

Stu still rides, but here it’s as lead bike.

“But through the Cigna facebook group I met some very funny supportive runners who I finally met face to face at parkrun. And it was because of these people I stayed running.


“It was through running and joining other facebook running groups I met a very cute wee runner in Auckland, and it’s because of that very cute wee runner that I’m very happily married today.

“So I’d say parkrun has impacted my life pretty majorly.”

His wife Heather is also a keen parkrunner, she also runs ultras with her most recent being the Tarawera 50km.

Stu is a simple parkrunner when it boils down to the event. He’s achieved his 50 and 100 running milestones, plus his V25, but he’s no particular goals for touring or other unofficial parkrun challenges, aside from keeping on running.

Trentham Memorial

With the launch of the new Trentham Memorial parkrun in Upper Hutt (it started January 30, 2021), Stu is now on the run director roster.

“I really love the way many of our athletes are new parkrunners who joined because Upper Hutt got its own event. I wish more people would come along and join us – as I do for all parkrun events in New Zealand.

“It’s free, it’s fun and it’s healthy. And who doesn’t love coffee and scones first thing on a Saturday morning? I’m preaching to the converted, you all already know how much fun it is.

“I love the people. Cheering, chatting, coffeeing, generally just chewing the fat. Funnily enough I started doing parkrun for the running but now running is the least favourite part about parkrun.”


Stu has run at a number of different parkruns, his highlights have included running in his hometown of Blenheim and running at Aylesbury parkrun in the UK.  

“I saw a blue 500 t-shirt for the very first time there. That was right before the world went Covid crazy.

“Another highlight would be Bruce McCardle’s famous “Bruce’s Butt Busting Ball Breaking Blues Bus” Longest Day where in 2019 we did the five lower North Island parkruns in one day, only to topped this year with his six parkruns in one day.

“Physically it’s hard work but mentally it has been some of the funniest days running I’ve ever experienced. Nasally it’s not great but I never complain too much because I never know if it’s me or everyone else!”

At Greytown Woodside Trail, the fifth freedom run of the day.

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