Running dynamo still smiling and cracking jokes

Irrepressible Wellington athlete Bernie Portenski is in a hospice, where she’s busy planning her own funeral.

Portenski, 67, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in May, three days before the Rotorua Marathon, preventing her from running it for a 34th consecutive time.

She married long-term partner Peter Horan in October. Cancer put her back in hospital last month, where she had the joy of seeing daughter MJ’s boyfriend Tako propose, in front of close family.

An always-smiling, nonstop wise-cracking runner who qualified for the 1992 Olympics, won three Rotorua Marathons, twice completed an Ironman and was 1998 Wellingtonian of the Year, Portenski went into the hospice this month, where she is bedridden, yet upbeat.

Yes, I am quite busy, I’m kinda busy dying,” she laughs, saying that planning for an undetermined date has its problems.

“You can’t plan anything in Wellington – barbecues, anything like that, dying – if you’ve got to get the right date, it’s not the place to be.

“The weather’s no different for what I’m trying to plan, and people who are trying to plan a barbecue.”

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