Barry Curtis parkrun
Event number 399
26th June 2021
Guest Report from Nigel Milius
Seventeen years ago in 2004 when parkrun was born in the UK, Sir Barry Curtis was Mayor of Manukau City, and his eponymous park was farmland. The first stage of the park as we know it today was opened in April 2009, at 95 hectares the largest park to be developed in the Auckland region since the Auckland Domain in 1840. When he stood down as mayor in 2007 he had held the position for some 24 years. At the time, the longest serving mayor in New Zealand history (since superseded by Tim Shadbolt) so it was perhaps fitting that such a feature was named after him.
To the best of my knowledge, Sir Barry never actually took part in a parkrun, though he evidently had some interest in sport being a patron of both the Auckland Hockey Association and the Pakuranga Tennis Club. However, a bit of research tells me that others who share his name have. Among the 7 million plus people who have registered for parkrun worldwide since its inception, there are 6 Barry Curtises. Two have never actually used their barcodes, one has run just once, one twice, and the other two, 6 times each. Between them they have taken part at 7 different events, all in the UK. I wonder if any of them are aware that that there is a parkrun here, on the other side of the world, that shares their name?
The run starts along John Walker Boulevard. To anyone of my age and interests, a much more famous name than the former mayor! Olympic 1500 metre gold medallist in 1976, he was also the first man to run a mile in under 3.50 and his New Zealand record over that distance still stands today. If that pace were to be maintained over the 5km of parkrun, it would give a time of just over 12 minutes!
Nobody got near that today of course, but compared to most of us there were still some pretty speedy folk out there this morning. First home, in 17.44, was David Brown. Great way to celebrate your 150th parkrun David, well done. Also reaching that unofficial, but still noteworthy, milestone was Tristan Nicholls in 21.14, congratulations to you too.
A regular visitor from Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, was taking part for the last time on this visit (sorry, I didn’t get your name) but is someone who I’m sure will return again, and as far as I’m aware, the only other out-of-towner was myself from Cooks Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula. This would appear to be supported by the fact that all bar one person (according to the results) in the field of 134 had run here before. That person was Raj Konkala who was running his first event anywhere. Welcome to the parkrun family Raj, you’ve already used your barcode more times than one third of the registered Barry Curtises, and hopefully you’ll use it again many more times in the future. There may have been others, there was certainly a lady at the first timers briefing, but if you don’t have a barcode you don’t show on the results. Welcome to you too, but get yourself a barcode!
First female home today was Gretchen Bourdillon in 19.26, one of 14 people (over 10%) to record PB’s. This is particularly impressive given that most people out there today are old hands at this course. Well done all of you, I think this high percentage of PB’s illustrates how parkrun encourages people who may not have done much before to get out there exercising, getting fitter, and enjoying all the physical and mental benefits it brings. It doesn’t matter whether you’re breathing down the neck of David Brown, or keeping tailwalkers Gurcharanjit Singh Mahli and Maninder Mahli company at the other end of the field, parkrun is truly for everyone.
One regular here at Barry Curtis who wasn’t present this morning also deserves special mention. Grant Lincoln was being a tourist at University of Waikato today where he clocked up his 100th 1st place finish. Most parkrunners will never see that number 1 token (unless you volunteer to hand them out of course) so to collect 100 of them is nothing short of astounding. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke either, well done Grant.
The team of volunteers were ably led this morning by Peter Rout, today’s run director, who called for more volunteers to step forward. Our favourite, free, timed 5km can only take place each Saturday because this fine band of people turn out to scan barcodes, keep time, tail walk and do all the other necessary jobs each week. And guess what? The best thing about it is you too can volunteer. Just contact the team, tell them what you’d like to do, full training will be provided and it’ll add a whole new dimension to “parkrunday”. As Peter pointed out, if everyone volunteered just 1 week in 10, the regular appeals for help would be superfluous. Nice to see Event Director Maria Shallard actually running today (though still doing the results processing). With more volunteers, those who give their time frequently may also be able to run more often. Don’t just think about it, do it!
Another part of Saturday morning to me is heading to the post run café to replace the calories so recently lost. The Sequel Café admirably fulfilled this role this morning and apart from the delicious breakfast, I particularly like the way one long table is set out for parkrunners each week. If you’re there on your own, as I was this morning, go along and join in, good coffee, good food and good company.
Having said that, perhaps leave it until the week after next, as next week, there’s a special event at Barry Curtis. Even though the park itself is new, the parkrun is one of New Zealand’s longest established events, with only Lower Hutt and Cornwall Park pre-dating it. Next week, it reaches the notable (unofficial) milestone of its 400th event. The intention is to have a shared picnic in the park following parkrun, so bring a plate of food and join in celebrating this important landmark.
I wish all at Barry Curtis parkrun the very best for next Saturday, I hope the weather gods come to the party, and that, with the continued and valuable support of Manukau City Council (led for so long by the man for whom the park is named), you can enjoy another 400 parkruns here, and more.
Nigel Milius, Cooks Beach
Thank you Nigel for your lovely report. Nigel has now completed Run Reports for all but one of the New Zealand parkruns. Quite an achievement! We hope to see you again soon Nigel.