PUARENGA PARKRUN EVENT #233 12th JUNE 2021
My wife and I normally work offshore, but, like almost everyone, our lives have been changed over the last 12 months.
When one door closes, another one opens, and though we don’t have a parkrun close to our home on the Coromandel Peninsula, we’ve taken the opportunity to explore New Zealand, parkrunning almost every Saturday.
Our last visit to Puarenga was back in October, and I wrote the run report that day too.
Alison, the Event Director, noted after my scribblings then, that run reports were something she would be keen to see more of, so, when we had a firm date for another visit, I was keen to read what literary masterpieces this had inspired and turned to the news section on the website to find out.
The most recent entry was just last month, informing would be participants that the planting day in the Sanatorium Reserve (where the parkrun is held) had been cancelled.
The entry before that was to say that Puarenga would be holding a Christmas Day event last December, and the one before that, my run report from my last visit!
Therefore, I decided to offer my limited talents again.
The reserve was gifted to the people of Rotorua in 1880 by Ngati Whakaue and the aforementioned planting day was part of a much grander project to restore the natural wonders of this nationally significant geothermal area.
The vision of this work is that, "the ecological integrity of Sanatorium Reserve and the Sulphur Point is restored so that it can be enjoyed by visitors using a high quality, low impact network of tracks and other facilities."
Perfect fit with parkrun. There is much evidence of the clearing of non-native vegetation in the reserve visible from our course, and of its replacement with things which may have originally been present.
One can only imagine how the course may look in a few years’ time.
It is already scenically very beautiful. In fact, I would go as far as to say that to my mind it’s the nicest course in the country in that respect (if you discount the start/finish area!).
There are many attractive courses around NZ; some following lake shores with grandiose mountain backdrops, others hugging the coast or riverbanks, some crossing spectacular architectural features, but nothing quite like the combination of bush, lake and geothermal activity one finds here.
Steam rises from under the feet of all participants, not just the front-runners! Best of all, being a two lap course, you get to enjoy everything twice.
There’s also a nice range of birds to enjoy and this morning I noted all three species of gull that call NZ home (Black-backed, Black-billed and Red-billed). There were also Pied Stilts and Spur-winged Plovers feeding on salt flats in the lake with Fantails, Grey Warblers, Dunnocks and Blackbirds calling in the bush.
A 2019 NZ Herald article tells us that Long-tailed Bats also inhabit the area. You’d be very unlikely to see one of those during a parkrun of course, but great to know they’re there.
For mid-June, the weather was amazingly mild this morning.
On my first visit here three years ago (albeit in August) ice hung from the bushes. Today my phone told me it was 9˚C, and it felt it.
The 233rd running of Puarenga parkrun saw 71 people out enjoying the weather and the course, and, as always, there are those who deserve special mention.
Firstly, a big welcome to the parkrun family to Lukas Joy, Paul Houghton and Andrea Dixon who all had their barcodes scanned for the very first time today.
I hope it’s the start of a long and happy association with the amazing global phenomena which is parkrun, and whether you tour the world or simply turn up regularly at Puarenga (or a bit of both) I hope it’s brings you much pleasure.
As well as the 3 mentioned above, there were two other people running at Puarenga for the first time this morning. Kat Macmillan and my good friend Richard Schofield.
Richard lives in Balclutha and this was his first ever “overseas” parkrun. Other visitors today came from Christchurch, Auckland, Napier, Lower Hutt and Tauranga, hope you enjoyed your morning as much as I enjoyed mine.
Leading the field home was Matt Parsonage for the 2nd week running. Looking back through previous results it would appear collecting that #1 token is a regular event for him here, and whilst his 18.09 is the sort of time most of us can only dream about, it’s doubtless one he wouldn’t consider particularly fast (PB over minute quicker). Kaitlyn Lamb led the ladies home, evidently a talented youngster, running in the 15-17 age category. Well done both.
Without volunteers parkrun would simply not exist and whilst we should thank all todays’ high-vis heroes, two deserve special mention.
Russell Clarke who qualified for his V25 T-shirt today and Megan Dwyer who stepped into the Run Director role for the first time.
Joining this band of fine people couldn’t be simpler and will add a whole new dimension to your parkrun day. Just contact the team and sign up.
Full training will be provided and who knows, maybe one day you too could be wearing one of those T-shirts recognising your efforts.
Parkrunday to me isn’t complete without a visit to the café afterwards to replenish the calories burned and to discuss all things parkrun with other like-minded souls.
The Ciabatta Café and Bakery did a great job facilitating this today. I can highly recommend the “Bakers Breakfast” complete with the “Salami, Cheese and Ham Platter”, though even to someone with my healthy appetite, there’s plenty there for two!
Even after sharing, I still couldn’t find room for any of the other delicacies offered, though the Kiwifruit Tarts did look more than a bit appealing.
Thanks to all the Puarenga team for putting on a great morning and to Rotorua District Council for allowing our favourite, weekly, free, timed 5km to take place here.
Nigel Milius, Cooks Beach