We’re thrilled to introduce Porirua parkrun as the very first parkrun profile. This is a new feature that will showcase each of New Zealand’s parkruns over the coming year and offer some insight as to how it all came about and possibly some history/stories about the area and its community.
I’m Astrid van Meeuwen-Dijkgraaf the Event Director of Porirua parkrun, which is located in Bothamley Park, near Wellington.
We started the Porirua course after going to Lower Hutt parkrun for a few months. We loved the community atmosphere and wanted to create that in Porirua too, plus we hoped that we would be able to sleep in a bit longer on parkrunday. The sleeping in bit didn’t really happen during the first year or so!
Wellington is known as the Wind Capital of the world, but our course runs through a stream gully and is sheltered from most of the wind and rain and fun to run on any day. We also have heaps of core people that have knitted together into a supportive and friendly community. It is the community feeling that keeps people coming back.
Porirua parkrun is a 2.5km out and back course with the ‘out’ up a modest 40m rise of that length. You are surrounded by trees of all sorts that change through the seasons and run beside a stream with several waterfalls and a bridge. One of the waterfalls is an artificial stepped structure that can be spectacular after heavy rain.
Best of all is the coming ‘back’ which is mostly downhill to help put your best foot forward. People run it, walk it, jog it, push buggies and tow dogs (or are towed by dogs) and because it is and out and back you get to say hi to everybody!
A bit of history about the course is our track follows one of the original roads between Porirua and Pauatahanui; it was hewn out of the hill using pickaxes. Prior to the 1950’s it was known as Takapu Road North and before that it was shown as Thompsons Road. People used to walk or ride horses along this route to go to the Saturday Dances held in Pauatahanui.
We welcome having local and overseas parkrun tourist and are a friendly bunch running on an all-weather course. Lots of tourists compliment our stunning course setting. We would love to see you, and do come and join us for a coffee afterwards.
For the post-run coffee we go to McCafe just on the other side of the Motorway from Bothamley Park, near the railway station. We are served by a lovely team of people; they even put on extra staff on a Saturday morning for fast service, book out the sunny front room for us each week, and bought more coffee cups as our coffee attendee numbers grew. We’ve completely filled out the whole restaurant a couple of times already
Porirua parkrun has a thriving community of all ages and fitness levels – We have some awesome gentlemen in the over 75 and over 80 categories that are regular runners, one of them is even called James Bond (aka 007). We also have a whole bunch of kids that were encouraged to come to parkrun by their football (soccer) coach and have now been coming for about four years.
We see them mostly during the summer when there are no football matches but many of them have now done more than 70 parkruns. Shortly we will be seeing the Sports Wellington Active Families team members again – they encourage families to enrol in the family walk/run event for the Wellington Round the Bays and bring the families along to parkrun as fitness motivation. They may only walk part of the distance to start, but by the end most will jog the whole distance – just awesome.
Our parkrun has had an amazing impact in the area by creating this community. We have five teams of run directors to share the load and they are all wonderfully enthusiastic and bring their own personality to the event. Many of the regular participants have formed friendships, and it is great to see all your friends on parkrunday!
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