Josie Pollard and Phyllis Linsley are known around the Waikato township of Te Awamutu as the "stick walkers".

"As you can see, we can't walk very fast but we still walk which is quite good," said 92-year-old Phyllis. "But we just love coming for the company."

Josie is also well-established in the group.

"I joined in November 1982 and it's my ritual on Sunday to come to 'clinic', have a walk, have a talk, have some fun," she said. "And tea and coffee afterwards... and a bikkie."

The pair are part of a group of walkers and runners from the Te Awamutu Marathon Clinic.


For 37 years, they've met every Sunday morning for a weekly walk around the town.

"I just started off jogging very slowly just doing shorter distances," Josie said.

"Then over time, I worked up to doing 5km, 10km... then a little more, a little more. Then I eventually took the bull by the horns and had a go at a marathon and I succeeded it. And the adrenaline was just, high up there."

The group of nearly 20 have become a familiar and distinctive sight. Walkers fast and slow spreading out across the small Waikato town every Sunday morning in their red and white outfits.

"The red and white was chosen by five or six young guys who used to do marathons and that's how it got called Te Awamutu Marathon Clinic and it's stuck.

"I think when we're trying to encourage people to become members they're a bit put off by the mere fact it's a 'Marathon Clinic', but you can run, you can walk, you can do whatever you like."

The walkers range in age from their late 40's to Phyllis at 92, and staying mobile is important to all the walkers.

"Well if I stop, I stop. I've just got to keep going," Phyllis said.

"If you're just sitting there watching TV you're in big trouble in future," George Double said.

Current members of the Te Awamutu Marathon Clinic. Photo / Hunter Calder
Current members of the Te Awamutu Marathon Clinic. Photo / Hunter Calder

"I have something that isn't very nice, it's called polymyalgia and it affects all your joints and muscles," Dawn Devine said.

"But I still force myself to come along, even though you're not feeling 100 per cent."

Another walker, 89-year-old Phyllis Jones said the exercise takes her around the country and overseas.

"I go to different places like Rotorua, and Australia. Every year I've been over there for 10 years doing a 10km walk... I'm having a skite now."

The marathon clinic has a rich history attending runs and, until a few years back, hosted its own annual run in Te Awamutu. But with declining members, there's not enough young blood to help organise it.

Later this year, Wayne Strong will be running his 50th marathon with the marathon crew there alongside him to support and cheer him on.

"I'm running that lake for the 26th time actually and it'll be my 50th marathon and I'm not doing any more marathons after that," 62-year-old Strong said.

All the members would agree, it's as much about companionship as fitness. And that's a combination that keeps this tight-knit group going. And going.

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