Ming will be remembered fondly at Barry Curtis parkrun and we thank his family for letting us share his parkrun story here. Ming obviously endeared himself to his parkrun community and this was just a tiny part of his life, but it’s a reminder to us all how each parkrun community can become an extension of one’s own family.
Many thanks to Peter Rout, Run Director at Barry Curtis for sharing his tribute to Ming:
Eulogy to Ming Fong – a special member of the Barry Curtis parkrun family
I am here representing a group called Barry Curtis parkrun. Some of those runners stand here with me, a number of others send their apologies particularly Tom and Esther. We meet every Saturday morning at 8am a group of up to 150 of us run / walk or a combination of both for 5 kilometres.
Over 4 years ago Ming was the babysitter to daughter Belinda’s children while she participated at parkrun. In December 2014 he decided to join in and completed his first parkrun in just over 38 minutes. He went on to run this course an amazing 131 times. Not bad for a person in his late 60′s.
Donna informed us that Ming only started running in his 60′s and that possibly accounts for the fact that, like children who are learning how to run, he didn’t seem to master the art of pacing himself! Like that of enthusiastic youngsters Ming had the reputation of sprinting off at the start at a fast pace that many of us couldn’t match. Despite the fact that our times were quicker than Ming’s it usually took us a good 400 metres before we would catch up to him. Carl, one of the parkrun stalwarts, recalled how when he managed to catch up with him after Ming’s blistering starts would cheekily say to Ming “Nearly finished Ming, almost there!”
He had a fierce determination that saw him bring his time down to a personal best of just over 30 minutes. He loved a challenge and loved trying to beat those around his running level as well trying to beat his time from the previous week. This epitomised the parkrun spirit which allows anyone of any ability to go out each week to challenge themselves and those around them. He always said he wanted to beat Karen’s PB and he did! Karen said she could always judge her time based on whether she could see Ming’s T-shirt in the distance.
He pushed himself so hard that at the end of each run Ming would be doubled over gasping for breath. Tom and Esther, Barry Curtis’ parkrun founders, related with fondness the memories of Ming always powering around the final corner for the final dash to the finishing line. This corner Tom has nicknamed ‘Ming’s corner’ for those determined finishes.
Despite seeing Ming for only just over an hour a week, many people got to know Ming. He was admired by all those who knew him for the tenacious manner he pushed himself each week despite being one of the oldest athletes among us and for his friendliness and big smile. We heard about his family and his trips. Whenever Ming wasn’t at parkrun, people were heard to say “Oh, Ming’s not here today”. He was missed.
Those driving to parkrun would see Ming every Saturday walking along the road from his house to parkrun. He refused any offers of a ride as I think this was his warm up for the 5 kms. Karen, Peter and Ming used to joke about how every week they all must have left home at the same time as they always saw Ming at the same point in the road. After the run and a chat he would then walk all the way home.
To the family, thank you for sharing Ming with us, he was a very much loved member of our parkrun family too and always will be.
From all of us here and those who would’ve liked to have been here today, we would like to present a parkrun certificate to a very special member of our Barry Curtis team. God bless you Ming.
I’m Jackie (Jax) Hancock from Pegasus parkrun in North Canterbury. We got involved with parkrun because my uncle came to visit from the UK and made us do Hagley (before Pegasus had started!). Then when Geoff started Pegasus parkrun it was so close to home we thought we would try it out – and started off saying…
Born with Miller Syndrome, a rare genetic condition, Erica and her brother are the only two affected by the syndrome in New Zealand. She credits her mum for her iron-willed disposition and her story of refusing to let her condition get in the way of her hopes and dreams is inspirational. Erica, parkrun NZ…