Over the next few months, sports reporter Jonty Dine is putting the spotlight on our off-field superstars. These people work tirelessly to make sport in our region happen – without trophies or medals to recognise their efforts.
Stuart Hague ran his first half marathon in 1986 and hasn’t looked back since.
He has gone on to complete more than 200 half marathons, 10 full marathons and an ironman.
His passion for running extends off the course as well, as Stuart helps organise up to 70 races a year for the public.
Stuart will do everything from taking registrations, to setting out the course and manually inputting results on the computer.
Though organising such large-scale events is incredibly time consuming, Stuart says it’s always worth the effort.
“I like seeing the enjoyment on people’s faces, putting in the effort and finishing the race.”
Stuart also recently stepped up to assume the mantle of acting president of Athletics Nelson after the death of Eric Verstappen.
“I did it to help keep the club alive.”
After losing their parents at a young age, Stuart and his brother decided to take up running in the 1980s.
“One day he said ‘let’s do something crazy and run a half marathon’, we entered the Buller Marathon and I haven’t missed one since then.”
He now helps put on everything from summer pub runs to children’s cross-country.
Stuart has also been instrumental in growing the Nelson half marathon form 400 runners to 850 last year, but is quick to deflect credit.
“An organiser is only good as the people round them and I have a great bunch of people that make me look good.”
He says his proudest moments in running came in 2018 when he completed the Paris Marathon and two weeks later ran the London Marathon.
“That was the best race I’ve ever been in, the crowd, organisation, people, and the runners, it was amazing.”
Stuart says running is all about the top two inches.
“It’s just you against the course. A lot of people think they aren’t fit enough but people surprise themselves, the body is a wonderful machine. It will do a hell of a lot more than you think it can, it will go through a lot of extremes to get you to the finish.”
He says you don’t have to be an elite athlete to enjoy the sport.
“Just come and give it a go. The first step holds a lot of people back.”
He says we are blessed to have a running mecca here in Nelson and encourages everyone to experience the quality tracks on offer.
“When you run with other people, you run faster, further and just feel better.”
If you would like to nominate a ‘good sort in sport’, email [email protected]