The Auckland Joggers Club is the oldest jogging club in the world. It was started in 1962 by the world renowned athletics coach Arthur Lydiard and Colin Kay who later became Mayor of Auckland. Initially it was just for businessmen who had become overweight and unfit, and they started from Colin’s house in Remuera.
A few months later, Bill Bowerman, the famous US athletics coach visited New Zealand with some of his stable of runners to train with the famous Lydiard stable of runners, and was invited by Arthur and Colin to come for a run with the Auckland Joggers, including a lap to the summit of One Tree Hill. He was so impressed with what he saw and experienced that he took the idea back to the US and the world-wide jogging phenomenon was spawned.
It was the early 1970’s before women joined the club as runners – most were partners of members. The presence of women was resented by some of the men, who saw jogging as a men’s activity. However, this was the time when women were finally able to run competitively in marathon events, and they wanted to join a club for company during their marathon training. Some of the women formed walking packs, which were tolerated by the runners. There was dissent when these walkers wanted to change the name of the club to "Auckland Joggers and Walkers Club", but to this day it remains as “Auckland Joggers Club".
Today both running and walking packs exist harmoniously side by side.
Eventually, the club started to run in Cornwall Park in Epsom Auckland. They negotiated with the Carlton Rugby Club to start from their clubrooms in Puriri Drive, Cornwall Park. The traditional 'cup 'o tea' after each run was made in a small shed called the 'tea hut' which stood separately from the rugby club building, and was powered with an extension lead to the tea urn.
Auckland Joggers bought a half-share in the clubrooms and the Cornwall Sports Association was formed to manage the facilities on behalf of the two owners, Auckland Joggers and Carlton Rugby Club. Auckland Joggers Club and Carlton Rugby formed Cornwall Park Sports Assoc and received its certificate of incorporation on 26 Sept 1994. More recently the Carlton Rugby club and the Grammar Rugby club merged to form the Grammar-Carlton Rugby club.
The use of the kitchen improved facilities no end. At that time, Auckland Joggers invested a large amount in upgrading the facilities, and more recently further extensive renovations to the upstairs lounge and bar have created an enjoyable environment for all members to enjoy.
Arthur Lydiard died on Sunday 12th December 2004 in Texas whilst on a promotional and speaking tour.
Arthur gained international fame in the early 1960’s as the coach of many world-class middle-distance athletes including Peter Snell, Murray Halberg, Barry Magee, Lasse Viren and many others. His training methods are still held up as the standard for middle and long distance runners around the world.
For us, however, he was famous for his role in working with Colin Kay to found the Auckland Joggers Club. Arthur remained one of our Patrons until his death. He was an inspiration for all of our members, as well as for many other athletes both here in New Zealand and world-wide.
Arthur was also an inspiration to ‘ordinary’ New Zealanders as well, as he advocated running for all as a way to keep fit and healthy. The ‘Round the Bays’ fun run in Auckland was one of the biggest events that the Auckland Joggers Club started with Arthur’s patronage. Round the Bays continues to this day providing a vehicle for fitness and friendship for Aucklanders in their tens of thousands in March each year.
Arthur will be remembered as a coach of many of New Zealand’s successful middle and long distance runners, but we at the Auckland Joggers Club will remember him as a friend, Patron, and the person who inspired ordinary folk like us into a way of life that kept us fit and healthy.
Colin was one of the founders of Auckland Joggers Club which started in 1962. His vision and commitment encouraged ordinary people to improve their health and fitness through jogging and friendship.
Colin was also one of the founders of the famous ‘Round the Bays’ fun run which started in 1972. The event started at the Town Hall and ran out to St Heliers. The first run attracted 1200 participants. Each year, an estimated 70,000 walkers and runners wend their way out to St Heliers in this very popular Auckland event.
Colin had a distinguished career in business, civic life and sport. He ran a very successful business in Karangahape Road, was elected Mayor of Auckland City, and managed athletics teams in international competitions, His love of sport and his desire to provide talented young people with the means to excel was evident in his tireless work for the Peter Snell Sports Institute.
Through all this, Colin never forgot Auckland Joggers. He will be sadly missed by all, particularly with respect to the time he spent talking to members, passing on his knowledge, his jokes, and his reminiscences of the early days of the club.