Nestled among the harbour and hills of Wellington, New Zealand – the ‘Coolest Little Capital in the World’ and also the creative home of Middle Earth is a Scottish tribe – Wellington Scottish Athletic Club. Whether you are on a fleeting visit, or planning on becoming a local this running club is waiting to show you the local running delights.Long before Wellington film director Peter Jackson’s soaring Tolkien vision helped re-cast the city from a grey bureaucratic centre of Government to the vibrant home of hobbits, elves and avatars, a hardy Scot, Walter ‘Pop’ Ballantyne made his own epic journey to antipodean Wellington. Pop travelled from Galashiels, a town on the Gala Water River in the border region of the Scottish Lowlands to settle in Wellington. He established the club in 1915 out of the Wellington Scottish Society clubrooms, hence the name. Wellington is a wonderful running environment with its dramatic topography based around a central waterfront and coast that stretches 70km ringed by myriad hills – even mountains (Wellington playing host to the World Mountain-Running Championships in 2005). The highest peak of 500 metres is only 6km from downtown. Add to this rural-running circuits and trails which envelope and crisscross the city. The Wellington Scottish headquarters is centrally located in the city, so is well placed to support locals, and visitors alike in their running. So if you run or walk, there is something for you, your family and friends, on a weekly basis throughout the year.
A club with breadth and depthWellington Scottish has grown to be a large club by New Zealand standards with 250 members, with a good balance of males and females, a strong base of senior men and women, and masters. The large size of the club means Scottish caters for a wide variety of runners and walkers from beginners to elite. So on a club Saturday there are several packs to choose from no matter what pace you are looking for. Each main section of the club has a captain (e.g. Women’s captain, Men’s Captain, Masters etc). The captains provide weekly updates to their sections on training options and upcoming races. The women’s section is one of the real success stories – it is well-organised with a strong culture of support and camaraderie. Although large, Scottish prides itself on being the ‘friendly’ club community club feel. There is a strong social element and plenty of interaction between different groups across the club. This is most notable in our main club away trip at the end of winter to the New Zealand Road Relay Championship. Over 120 of the Scottish tribe travel together for this great team-based weekend. As well as critical mass, the club has a proud competitive history, winning the prestigious ‘Top Club’ award at the New Zealand Road Relay Championships on six occasions in the last decade. Most of our top (A) teams have won the relay championship over the years. The club has produced many national and international class runners over the years (see our legends below).
Pride in the singletClub members are very proud of their club singlet. You will be hard–pressed to find a New Zealand event where you won’t see a fellow club member wearing our distinctive yellow and red club uniform dominated by the heraldic red lion.
Let Scottish be your guidesA great way to be introduced to the local routes is to join the Scottish Club for a Saturday run (March-October), or by meeting up with Scottish runners on one of their weekday runs (year-round). The club Saturday format includes a mix of clubhouse-based runs through the city and trails, and ‘away’ runs in other parts of the city suburbs, and surrounding areas, including Lower Hutt and Porirua. These club runs are interspersed with club handicap and scratch races and local interclub competition and championships.
Health, fitness, fun and competition – you chooseOur club community strives hard to create an environment where all runners and walkers can achieve their personal goals, whether health and fitness, social, or competitive. Scottish understands that the way people choose to recreate is changing rapidly as the way we live is fast-changing. Individuals and families are juggling busy lives, and have a myriad of sport and recreation and other leisure options to choose from. Consequently we aim to provide flexible and varied running and walking opportunities. Whether weekly group runs, club days, events or trips. While Scottish is one of New Zealand’s oldest clubs – our centenary was in 2015 – and we are proud of our rich history and traditions, we are also a modern, evolving club. While already in a strong position, the club is currently reflecting on how we can ensure that we continue to grow and offer a great value proposition that is attractive to both existing and potential members.
Who are our members?Our members come from all walks of life and have a wide range of abilities, interests and goals. A number of our members like running longer races such as half marathons and marathons (and beyond that, ultra and trail races). We also have several members who participate in triathlons, so triathletes will feel very at home joining us to complement their triathlon training. The club has a very strong walking section with several race walkers who often train and travel together to local and national race walking events. The harrier (or winter) season usually starts towards the end of March and runs until the second week of October. Our Saturday club pack runs and walks, provide a variety of packs (groups) that will run or walk at the pace that best suits you. For the first few Saturdays of the season, our packs leave the clubhouse at 2pm. The pack runs and walks are followed by an afternoon tea and a chance to mix with members. After these early weeks, we continue to provide pack run options, and add handicap club races, or interclub events held at various locations in the wider Wellington area. Transport can be arranged to these events. Some events are cross country, some are on the roads and some are relays. There are two main away trips during the season. One is to the North Island Cross Country Championships in Taupō (July). This is a relaxed and family-focused event, and coincides with the school holiday so it a great break during winter. The main trip is to the New Zealand Road Relay Championships in October (held in different locations around the country). Club members also arrange their own trips to various events, such as half-marathons and off-road events throughout the year.
Summer – trackIn the summer, some of our members compete on the track (at Newtown Park, only a couple of kilometres from the clubhouse), others do triathlons, while others run and walk in our popular Tuesday night 5km series, or with our more informal summer pack runs throughout the Wellington region.
CoachingWe provide coaching support, up-to-date athletics news, tips on stretching and injury prevention, and groups to train with that will keep members motivated. Coaches include New Zealand marathon champions, off-road and track specialists. There are coaches to suit complete beginners as well as more experienced and elite runners/walkers.
- There are many social opportunities in the club community such as post-Saturday run drinks at local pubs, annual Prize-Giving and more.
- The club produces a high quality club e-magazine, On The Run, and there is a weekly e-newsletter.
- The club provides a crèche on club Saturday’s to allow parents to get out for a run.
- The Scottish Supporters Trust provides funds to support our elite athletes to achieve their and the club’s running goals.
Health, fitness, fun and competitionOur club community strives hard to create an environment where all runners and walkers can achieve their personal goals, whether their running goals are being a social runner to achieve fitness goals or competing at regional and national running events. Wellington Scottish Athletics understands that the way people choose to run is changing rapidly as the way we live is fast-changing. Individuals and families are juggling busy lives, and have a myriad of sport and recreation and other leisure options to choose from. We aim to provide flexible and varied running and walking opportunities, whether you are looking for weekly group runs, club days, events or trips.
by Grant McLean