Les Mills and the NZ Women’s under 19 Lacrosse team upped the ante this year in Auckland’s Round the Bays by carrying ‘PJ’, our life size inflatable whale, to help raise awareness for Project Jonah and whales.
Measuring 6m long, a team effort was needed to carry PJ more than 8kms along the course and over the finishing line.
Project Jonah volunteer and runner Yuin Foong says, “We completed the run in an hour and twenty minutes, we were all pretty stoked with that!”
Despite the pressure of their Auckland finals later in the day, the lacrosse team brought 20 players and a team coach on board to help support the cause.
“It was brilliant. The team vibe was great,” says coach Jess Evans. “We know that whales strand in New Zealand,” says Evans, who also took part in the run. “We have seen it on the TV and we fully support the great work that Project Jonah does.”
Project Jonah Chief Executive Kimberly Muncaster was delighted with the help.
“Les Mills and the lacrosse girls have been fabulous. It was wonderful to team up with them and get their support.” says Muncaster.
Foong says other runners taking part in the race and those spectating also cheered PJ on.
“People in New Zealand have a natural affinity with water and whales,” says Foong, who came up with the idea of carrying the inflatable in the annual fun run. “It was a great way to generate support, create awareness and remind people that whales, and organisations like Project Jonah need a helping hand.”
At the end of the course runners gathered together for “a feed” provided by the Les Mills team.
“I think everyone had a really good time. We were happy to support the cause,” says Isaac McGregor, Event Manager, Les Mills Auckland.
Ms Muncaster says the plight of whales is a “heartbreaking reality” as these animals continue to face increasing threats.
“Whales have to navigate polluted, noisy and dirty seas and dodge harpoons, ships and fishing nets,” she says. “Some face captivity and others a brutal death in coastal hunts. To top it off, hundreds of whales strand each year on New Zealand coast. These animals need our help. We encourage people to do everything they can to protect these animals and the oceans they call home.”