Hatea Harriers began their winter season enthusiastically on Saturday with a short, but hot, 5km dash around the streets from their headquarters at the cricket pavilion at Kensington Park.
Long-time member Tom Hourigan enjoyed the run.
"I've been in the club for about 35 or 36 years, something like that. I get out there and run or, if I can't run, I walk. I definitely feel better after it," he said.
Although the club boasts around 50 members, only around 25 turned up on Saturday.
"Not everybody turns up every week - a lot go in for multi-events, so that's where a lot are today. There's a bike race around Rotorua and the Kumara Triathlon in Dargaville," said Colin Smith, the club's publicity officer.
"The club's looking healthy again and I think we'll put together some good relay teams ... [But] we need to bring more outside people into the club. That's the only way that athletics is going to grow, by clubs getting new members from outside the present running fraternity," Smith said.
Club president Neville Bassett agrees with Smith.
"The club's shaping up well with some younger prospects, such as Harry Linford; and new seniors, including Johnny Creelman and Matt Anderson," he said.
"The Wednesday night 5km series we organised was successful, but we don't know yet how many joined clubs as a result. Anyway, we're discussing the possibility of another series in September, before the Kerikeri half-marathon," Bassett said.
He believes that running is becoming a more popular way of getting fit and that the new track has helped to promote athletics. He seems confident about Hatea's ability to challenge the larger L J Hooker Athletics Whangarei club in particular events.
"We'll save our really competitive running for when we come up against Whangarei. We always beat them at something. The Waipu Relay [the Northland Road Relay Championships] would be a good one," he said.
In line with the club's tradition, members were addressed by a guest speaker after the afternoon tea.
This year's speaker, Anson Clapcott, inspired members with an account of his world-wide sailing experiences and the background to some of his great runs, including a New Zealand Master's record in the marathon.
He is eyeing the world record for the 65-69 grade half-marathon, this year.