30 Jan 2024

Oldest-known 'parkrunner' celebrates 100th birthday

From First Up, 5:35 am on 30 January 2024
Woman runner showing feet and running shoes on track or road.

Photo: 123rf

At 100 years old, runner Colin Thorne says the secret to life is to keep moving and have a goal. 

This month the Northland athlete celebrated his 175th parkrun with 370 other runners in Whangarei.

He told First Up he started running at 64, when he was getting too old to continue as a hockey umpire.

"I thought I'd better do something by myself, so I thought I'd go and have a little jog. That's how it all started."

He completed a half-marathon and hasn't looked back. 

"I encourage people, if they only walk to the letterbox, if it's 100m away and back, that's doing something isn't it. You've just got to keep the body moving. That's all there is to it.

"If you sit down in front of television and just mope about all day you won't last till 100, I'll tell you that."

The former dairy farmer said it helped to have a routine, and a goal.  It didn't matter if you were the fastest or not, he said. Someone had to come last after all. 

The weekly 5km parkruns are perfect for that, Thorne said.

"It doesn't matter ... how long it takes you, and it costs you nothing to do it, you've just got to be there at about a quarter to eight [on Saturday] morning."

Thorne also hits the gym during the week, and does some water running.

He said he also ate pretty well - Weetbix and fruit for breakfast most days.

"That keeps me going. I don't go down to McDonald's and get pie or anything."

Thorne, believed to be the world's oldest known parkrunner, said he was "starting life all over again".

Looking back at his 100 years, he said he wondered how he managed to keep going at times.

Everyone had ups and downs but you "get up and  go again", he said.