News | 1 February 2017

Wellington mourns loss of Bernie Portenski

All of Wellington will be mourning the loss of local hero and notable Wellingtonian Bernie Portenski, says Wellington Mayor Justin Lester.

“Bernie was an outstanding Wellingtonian, who turned to serious athletics relatively late, then became a world-class runner at various age levels,” he says.

“She had an infectious personality and was a positive, can-do person who inspired many others.”

Portenski turned her life around after she turned 30, giving up smoking and becoming a fine distance runner. She qualified for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, but was not selected – at 42, her age counted against her. She went on to set a string of world age-group records and completed 33 consecutive Rotorua Marathons, winning three of them.

“Local runners will know Bernie for her wonderful attitude and her boisterous encouragement. She was named Wellingtonian of the year in 1998,” says the Mayor.

“She was a great local character, a committed sportsperson and Wellingtonian, and we will miss her greatly.”