Running in the family

Andrew LeighWhen federal Labor MP Andrew Leigh laces his runners in preparation for a half-marathon in November, he hopes the spirit of his Methodist minister grandfather will spur him on.

In 1970, Rev Keith Leigh decided to run up Mount Wellington in Hobart to raise money for ‘The Methodist Million’, an overseas aid program that supported programs in places such as Fiji, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and the Middle East.

Although Andrew is inspired by the determination of his grandfather, as he explains, he hopes history won’t repeat itself.

“In 1970 the Methodist Church held its annual conference in Hobart, for the first time in many years,” Andrew said.

“At the conclusion of the conference, Keith arranged for a run from the springs to the summit of Mount Wellington, the majestic and tranquil mountain overlooking Hobart. The run was publicised by Hobart TV, and sponsored by a number of Tasmanians, including the Cascade Brewery. Cascade sponsorship contained a nice irony, given the Methodist ‘wowser’ image at that time.

“On October 22, 1970 a snow storm hit the mountain during the run, and Keith died running – not far short of the summit.

“His death was reported on the front page of the Hobart Mercury the next day. Though in a further irony, the paper erroneously said that he had been doing the run as a ‘wager’ – Methodists had a strong aversion to gambling.”

Andrew has been running 60 to 90 kilometres a week in preparation for the run. His favourite run is through the Canberra bush, around Mt Majura and Mt Ainslie, where kangaroos present the biggest obstacle.

He is putting together a team of runners to join him on 15 November when he will honour his grandfather and raise money for overseas aid.

The Point to Pinnacle half-marathon starts at Hobart’s Wrest Point Casino and makes its way to the top of Mt Wellington.

Anyone who wants to join the 21 kilometre run can contact Andrew on:

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