Claiming back the track

Last updated 12:00 28/07/2014

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A group of about 80 gathered by the Esplanade, armed with running shoes and water bottles, ready to reclaim the Bridle Track after a man was assaulted there a week earlier.

Palmerston North man Jon Clark was overwhelmed by yesterday's turnout.

"It's a symbolic thing showing that lots of people love that track and we want to use it on our terms."

Clark, a teacher at Monrad Intermediate, decided to organise the event with a few friends after he was left bloody and bruised on July 26 while out for a run.

A man approached Clark asking him to "give us a go" on his phone. When he didn't comply, the youth punched Clark in the face, knocking him down.

The youth took the phone and ran off over the stopbank with two others, leaving a dazed Clark to flag down a passing cyclist, who lent him his phone to call police and waited with him until they arrived.

Clark suffered swelling and bruising to his face, and had to have stitches in his mouth, which then got infected. The injuries put him out of school for three days.

It took a week before Clark put on his running shoes again, but he tackled that track and had plenty of support along the way.

He planned the run with a few friends, posted it to Facebook and from there it snowballed.

Clark didn't know most of the people who turned up for the run.

Carlene Starck decided to show her support by donning her shoes and hitting the track.

Monrad Intermediate students Matua Pomare, 11, and Otis Luxford, 12, rolled over with their scooters to support their teacher.

"If there is any message, it would be keep getting out there, use these walkways, beware that there are bad people out there but don't be afraid," Clark told the group before they embarked on the 8-kilometre trek.

Palmerston North mayor Jono Naylor also made an appearance - tracksuit and all.

Sergeant Jeff Veale said a similar attack happened about the same time on the walkway the day before, but information on whether anyone was hurt or if anything was taken was unavailable.

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- Manawatu Standard


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