At 90 years old, there is no stopping Russell Parrish as he gears up to compete at this Sunday's Round the Bays event in Auckland.

Parrish met NZH Focus at his gym, YMCA on Greys Ave, on a day that is usually a rest day.

He proudly brought a large picture frame with him on the bus from home of the same event in 1981 that he and his wife, now 87, ran in together.

Russell pointed them out right near the front of the main road, clogged with tens of thousands of other participants.


He's lost count of how many events he's run in but says it's been about 15 years since he last competed.

Russell anticipates the atmosphere will be much the same and that there will be less competitive pushing and shoving like in the old days.

He signed up this year after encouragement from his gym, of which he's been a member at for the past 48 years.

Russell trains there three times a week - usually spending about 15 minutes on the rowing machine, along with weights and then lots of outside walks.

He's set himself a personal best.

"When I did my practice walks I did 1 hour 40 minutes. I'd like to do that but I think the congestion might slow me down."

He says he's excited about race day.

"My daughter has threatened to be there," he laughs.


Russell isn't ruling out taking part in more events - but only if his health lets him.

"I have been lucky that at my age that I am still able to do it. Not many can but if you think you can make it … have a go."