Remembering Russell Glendinning

Railway-sleeper & cartwheel seat, memorial information board and life-size cutout figure of Russell Glendinning make up the memorial.

Russell Glendinning was a giant of a man in Northern Southland. I think you’d be hard-put to find anyone as passionate and dedicated to trains and community as the man known to many as Mr Kingston Flyer.

A Crowd Gathers In Garston

On February 22nd a crowd gathered near the little railway shed on the Garston Green. They came from all over Southland and beyond.  Railwaymen caught up with their mates. St John’s personnel leant against their ambulance chatting to friends. 

Locals from Kingston, Garston and Athol came along. Family, friends, dignitaries… 

We were all there to honour one extraordinary man.

The Russell Glendinning Memorial Seat

The Russell Glendinning memorial, railway sleeper & cart-wheel seat with information board. The Kingston Flyer cutout runs along the top.

This rustic seat is a heartfelt tribute to a legendary Southlander. And, like Mr Glendinning, it’s down-to-earth yet complex. Aaron Abernethy built it carefully, from railway sleepers and cartwheels. Russell might have blushed to read the information board created by Donna Hawkins and Chris Chilton. But he’d have loved the attention to detail on Macaela Hawkins’ re-creation of the Kingston Flyer perched on top.

“I think it is a great tribute to Russell,” said Kingston Flyer Ltd Director Neville Simpson. “It’s a place to come and remember him, to sit and contemplate. 

Russell used to do a lot of that. He’d go up the track, do a few sleepers then lie back in the grass and contemplate life.”

But, who was Russell Glendinning and why did 100 people gather to honour him on that rain-threatened afternoon?

Let’s find out.

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Behind the Scenes: The Revenant Community

Two things that Scott Worthington and Welcome Rock’s Tom O’Brien stand for – Community and Challenge. They’re building both in The Revenant Ultra Adventure Run.

I love the outdoors and I love a challenge. And I love people that love a challenge. It’s really important in my heart and in my wife’s heart to recognise the strength in everybody.”

Scott Worthington at the close of the 2020 Revenant Ultra Adventure Run
Scott Worthington and Tom O'Brien at the closing ceremony table with the Welcome Rock Whisky bottle and shot glasses.
Scott and Tom about to present the very first Revenants with their ceremonial shot glass full of Welcome Rock whisky.

One of the very special things about the Revenant run is its community feel. The runners, their families, supporters and all the volunteers feel a sense of connection and belonging. 

It’s not an accident. Everyone has a part to play in the Revenant family.

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The Revenant Ultra Adventure Run: 2020

Revenant 2020 was all we hoped for and more. It had drama, heartbreak and challenge a-plenty.

I was lucky enough to be out on the course in this year’s event. Here’s how it unfolded.

The 2020 Revenant Ultra Adventure Run challengers meet at the race briefing at the Welcome Rock Trails / Blackmore Station woolshed. The next time they’ll all be together will be at the start line in the early hours of a January morning.

Can You Imagine Going Deep Into The Revenant?

“ I saw a black and white cow pulling a caravan up the river.”

That might have bothered Shaun the first time he clambered up the Nokomai River. But as he scrambled over boulders and under logs for the fourth time in 60 hours, the cow didn’t faze him at all. 

When you’re pushing body, mind and spirit to the limit, hallucinations happen. Your brain starts to play tricks when you’ve been running and navigating with no sleep. And when you’re climbing, descending and racing for 190km over three days. 

It happens when you go deep into The Revenant.

25 men and women lined up in the 2020 race on Welcome Rock Trails this year. Some had been there before — they had demons to conquer. Last year, no-one came close to finishing the race. 

Others were there to discover their own limits. How would they face the challenge that is the Revenant Ultra Adventure Run?

Two Revenant racers clamber over logs in the beech forest beside the rocky Nokomai River bed.
It’s tricky terrain down in the beech forest near the Nokomai River. Photo supplied by Scott Worthington.
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The Garston Cemetery: A Very Special Shelter

The normally-tranquil Garston Cemetery was a-buzz early in November.

Residents past and present were gathering along with SDC mayor Gary Tong and councillors John Douglas and Rob Scott, for the opening of the cemetery memorial board and shelter. 

The ceremony marked the end of two years planning, fundraising and organising for the Garston Cemetery Trust. Designed by Gordan McMillan and built by Aaron Abernethy and Jordan MacGregor, this lovely little building is one-of-a-kind. 

Cutting the ribbon on the Garston Cemetery Memorial Board Shelter.
Noel McMillan and Gary Tong open the Garston Memorial Boards’ special shelter.
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