Sandwiched between days hiking Te Araroa (The Long Pathway), it was a delight to bring in the New Year at Palmerston North parkrun. As an NFP - person of No Fixed Parkrun, my five nearest parkruns are all 3 hours drive from home - it was lovely to be so warmly welcomed by the friendly, smiling volunteer team as they worked to set up for the event.
It was fun to bring my friend and PN hostess, Fiona Huston, newly registered, on her first parkrun. Hopefully the beginning of a beautiful and long lasting parkrun relationship. No pressure Fiona! Marita Gilling, Jacob Nicholson, Tristine Emery and Siobhan Walker also began their parkrun journey at Palmerston North this morning. Welcome! What a great way to start 2021.
It had looked a little overcast as we set out to parkrun but the sky cleared and, with no sign of the signature Manawatu wind, it was a quite a steamy warm morning. At first it seemed there might be a very modest turnout despite the later start of 9am to accommodate New Years Eve revellers. However, as Tuis chortled overhead, chattering parkrunners gathered bringing their pushchairs, buggies and barkrunners. Maybe next time Fiona will bring her very own barkrunner, Nugget! The total field of 99 was augmented by a tourist quotient of 10% from Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and my husband and I from the Coromandel.
Palmerston North is arguably the fastest parkrun course in the country, a straight forward out and back with slight undulations on an excellent asphalt surface along 2.5km of the nearly 10km Manawatu River pathway. Manawatu literally translates as “heart standing still”, a representation of how Maori ancestor Hau felt when he first encountered the size and beauty of this mighty river. Fair to say none of our hearts were standing still as we hurried our way along her banks, straining for a glimpse of the turn around marshal, serenaded onwards by the piping of the Poaka (Pied Stilts) in the riverbed. A few trees provide a little shade but a few clouds rolling in around 9.30am were most welcome. Fiona provided local gen as we hustled back towards the finish – pointing out the 200 steps across the river that locals used to stay fit during lockdown. Glad those aren’t part of our parkrun course.
Once across the finish line I stayed to cheer the remaining folk home – a special delight to welcome in Bob and Barbara Hartnell (regular parkrun volunteers, and Bob possibly our oldest participant today) immediately followed by a very cheery wee chap, Brody Peters, just 4 and a half years old, completing his 6th parkrun and sporting a t-shirt declaring “Awesomeness”. You certainly are Awesome Brody and I loved your finish line smile and wishes for a Happy New Year.
An impressive effort from Reuben Duker (JM11-14yrs) first home in 18:18, with Dorota Ewa Starzak leading the ladies home in 20:20. Well done, a cracking start to your 2021. Another seven folk brought home course PBs including both myself and my husband. Yay!
Sadly the regular post event breakfast venue, Elm Café, wasn’t open today however a few of us were rewarded with excellent coffee and nibbles a short walk away at Fiore Coffee cart at He Ara Kotahi Bridge.
From all 99 of us participants to the 15 wonderful hi-vis heroes that made todays parkrun possible -THANKYOU!! YOU ARE MUCH APPRECIATED!
Remember anyone is welcome to volunteer to keep parkrun free for everyone forever – full training given, just chat to the Run Director or email the parkrun directly. And it would appear that if your name is Wendy, you should definitely sign up now as there were 3 Wendys in your 15 strong volunteer team today, it is obviously the place to be.
With thanks Wendy Hare NFP Kiwi Tourist