Rod Deverson is the Event Director of Balclutha parkrun in South Otago, down on the South Island. He writes here about his love of parkrun:
I found parkrun love at the Sheffield Hallam event in Yorkshire, UK and I quickly caught the bug that saw me there most weekends. I loved the scale of all those runners (400-600 on a good week) but I equally enjoy how personal our event is. Balclutha is proof that the size of your town is no barrier to establishing a successful parkrun.
Our course starts with a short out and back along a grassy floodbank. After running past the cheering hordes of volunteers we continue along the floodbank towards the Balclutha Bridge. We go over, under, back over and under the bridge then head for home again. First timers often come having enjoyed Dunedin’s parkrun and they want to know that it’s a bit flatter – it is!
When we planned parkrun here we knew from the start that we had to include the Balclutha Bridge. It is 244 metres long and traverses the mighty Clutha River which itself is the biggest feature of our course. Giving great views either way, the river can seem happy, calm and gentle in the morning sun or (and regularly recently) it can transform into an angry, raging torrent.
We welcome visitors and tourists to come and enjoy the small local feel of our small local parkrun. Just like those first Bushy Park events, we know everyone’s name as they cross the line whether you have been most weeks or are joining us for the first time. Our park is great for kids with a playground, duck pond and aviaries.
Our post run coffee is at Café 55 and we usually manage to squeeze everyone together around the “big table” at the back. Afghans, cheese scones, pancakes and fluffies are all popular!
Being a smaller event does bring some uniqueness and at our fourth event every runner came first in their age category! This probably doesn’t happen too often. Tania Mills and her dog are two of our most regular runners. They were the only two to run all of our first ten events. Bo is a sweet Papillon-Collie cross who is very popular and will no doubt feature in a future issue of ‘parkdog of the Week’.
Balclutha parkrun has successfully established a unique family-friendly environment where local people are making new connections and friendships. I love the way people can involve themselves in this parkrun as much or as little as they like from week to week.
Tourists regularly coming to join our event remind us all what an amazing corner of the world we live in. And when they come telling with pride stories of their own unique corners, we are all inspired to travel and think globally.
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