Heart attack victim steps up

Marching orders . .. Walkers set off for the Cross Recreation Centre 5km and 10km events.


An anniversary event signalled a positive step forward for a Milton woman at the weekend.

Balclutha’s Cross Recreation Centre held its combined 10th anniversary celebration and half-marathon community event on Saturday.

About 150 participants from across the wider region signed up in sunny conditions for a range of options, from a 2km family fun run and assorted walks, to a full half-marathon along the Clutha Valley.

Among them was Milton heart attack survivor Heather Gardner (64), taking part in her first competitive 10km walk.

Great strides . .. Elaine McLeod, of Balclutha,
crosses the Balclutha Bridge during the town’s
Cross Recreation Centre 10km walk.

Mrs Gardner said the 10km in prospect was nothing to the journey she had already taken to reach the start line.

‘‘I had a heart attack two years ago, and my weight was a big factor.

‘‘I decided I wanted to see my grandchildren when they eventually arrive, and since then I’ve lost nearly 40kg, and gone from getting puffed walking half the length of the swimming pool to swimming 60-plus lengths three times a week, and walking regularly.

‘‘I tried a 5km at the Dunedin Marathon last month and it was a breeze, so I’m challenging myself with a 10km today,’’ she said.

The retired freezer worker said her husband, Malcolm, had also lost nearly 40kg, having caught the fitness bug from her.

‘‘We’re an inspiration to each other. Now we’re actually living again, and the future is bright.’’

New leaf . . . Heart attack survivor Heather Gardner, of Milton,
prepares to start only her second walking event at Balclutha’s
Cross Recreation Centre on Saturday morning. PHOTOS:

The Cross Recreation Centre opened in 2011, but Covid-19 restrictions prevented the facility from celebrating its 10th anniversary last year, centre manager Noelene Scott said.

‘‘It was really the foresight of the founding community members who made [the centre] happen, and it continues to be a community-owned facility supported by the wider Southern community through grants and sponsorship.

‘‘It’s fantastic to reach this landmark, with the centre still used by more than 90,000 people-visits each year, which is a reflection of its importance to Balclutha and surrounds.’’

Volunteer race director Sophie Erwood, who used to work at the centre, said the post-Covid resumption of the long-standing half-marathon event was a fitting way to mark the anniversary.

‘‘We’ve got excellent numbers, a redesigned course, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather.

‘‘It’s just so good for everyone’s health and wellbeing to have events like these back on the calendar to look forward to and take part in.’’

Sweetness and light . . . Balclutha sisters Emily (6, right) and
Samara Sutherland (9, centre), are joined by Invercargill cousin
Chloe Sutherland for the event.
All smiles . . . Rebecca (left) and Liam Begg (9), of Pukeawa,
prepare to undertake the 10km walk with Nicole Foote, of Dunedin.