Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Being in a Club

Some of the most important decisions I've made in my life have been joining clubs.

When I was of high school years I didn't have a lot of friends and as a result spent a lot of time by myself and with my family.

I discovered an interest in playing chess during those years and due to a somewhat empty social calendar decided to join the Otago Chess Club who met on a Friday night. With math being one of my favourite subjects I found that I easily adapted to a game that required logical thinking and great reserves of patience.

On leaving school I joined up with Caversham Harriers in Dunedin. My love for running was firmly cemented with being with other like minded people and the opportunities to test out whatever athletic prowess that had been awaiting release.

When I was on my big travelling excursion overseas I hooked up with a running group in Atlanta where I established contacts with the local runners. One of these guys was a black American who I have fond memories of driving around with in his red corvette and meeting his lovely family.

On arrival in London and not knowing anyone I made the best decision possible to contact a running club that I saw advertised on a community message board. That contact I made ended up with my getting a job and becoming a member of a fantastic running group called Thames Valley Harriers. What I loved about being in this club was that I got to meet a different social network than I would have if I had just remained a kiwi travelling overseas. A lot of kiwis and Australians often predominately hang out with others of their like. I found TVH an extremely friendly, supportive and encouraging club to be part of. I also was looked up to because I began to compete at a high level where I gained places in some races and actually won the prestigious Welwyn Garden City Half Marathon in 96 degree temperature.

In more recent times I have been a member of Olympic Harriers, Wellington when I first moved up north. On starting school at Waikanae I joined the Kapiti Harriers. Our local club was fantastic for our girls growing up as they got to meet up with other children and had opportunities to compete locally and regionally.

More recently and for quite a few years now I have been a member of Wellington Harriers. I joined this club because it has a strong masters running section and I have had a lot of success competing with them. They are also a great bunch of guys and contact with them has lifted my social calendar dramatically although distance sometimes hampers my involvement in their arranged activities. However they keep me informed and I try to get to as many gatherings as possible.

This Saturday one of the club's most successful runners, Liam Healey is celebrating his 50th birthday party. I am looking forward to catching up with him and other members of the Masters team there. We will be talking up past victories and watching some highlight packages of former glory days.

Apologies to those who have seen this photo before. It is a recent photo of the Wellington Harriers Masters group on a Saturday summer run along Waikanae Beach.


Lea said...

Didn't realise that was Waikanae Beach! I think it is neat that you found a group to belong to. And you're doing so well too! I also think it is great that when you were overseas you didn't just stick to other Kiwis, you actually put yourself out there to meet others. I think this is one of the reasons we feel New Zealand has become home for us - because we don't just hang out with South Africans, but we actually catch up with Kiwis and people from other countries as well!

Sarah said...

like people from the Thames Valley, or near enough!! When were you over there Paul???

Victor e suas opiniões said...

Do you play chess Mr. Paul? lol I can beat you easy!

Mr Paul said...

Bring it on, Victor!

Old Runningfox. said...

Although a member of a running club, Longwood Harriers, I never get chance to train with them due to lack of transport on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I'm sure my racing results would improve leaps and bounds if I could run with a group of people like those shown above on Waikanae Beach. I'm a bit envious!

Victor e suas opiniões said...

I will :D You will lose lol

Don't unplug your hub said...

Whatever happened to 'the loneliness of the long distance runner'?