On the 6th February 2021, Pioneer Dairy parkrun finally got going. This was quite a relief. Originally proposed as an event in November 2018, the event was 3-4 weeks off launching when the COVID shutdown forced a hit to the pause button. But, as they say, patience is its own reward…
Event Director, Gordon Spence describes how Pioneer Dairy joined the global parkrun community.
The day of the launch was pretty much perfect. Not too hot, not too cold, sunny skies and a dry track. This last detail was especially important to us, as Pioneer Dairy (as the name suggests) is set on farmland, with 90 per cent of the course run on flat grass paths. Significantly, the Dairy also happens to be part of Central Coast Wetlands (CCW), a prominent nature reserve and birdwatching area. This makes our course somewhat susceptible to wet weather.
In total, 177 runners and walkers took part in the inaugural event. In keeping with a dairy farming theme, our event starts with the ringing of a cow bell. For the launch, we gave that honour to Chris, one of the wonderful CCW volunteers who (for more than 20 years) kept Pioneer Dairy looking green, lush and beautiful. Indeed, this is an aspect of our new event that makes it satisfying. Pioneer Dairy is open seven days a week for public use, but many locals are unaware of its existence. The hope is that parkrun will help to change all that.
The first event went very well and without incident. We even got all of our tokens back! The feedback was outstanding, with people loving the opportunity to run on grass and excited about the variety of events now available on the Central Coast (as we are the fifth parkrun on the Coast). It was great also to see our first barefoot runner, who reported no issues other than encountering the remnants of a thistle (that we suspect was blown onto the track after mowing).
Encouragingly our event has been blessed with the free energy of a great group of volunteers. Through the trials and our first three events, assembling a vollie crew has not been difficult and new people are beginning to come forward. We hope this continues. People also have the opportunity to volunteer with CCW, to help with their management of the site.
In preparing for the launch, we spent some time consulting with a local indigenous advisor. Whilst this was helpful for developing a heartfelt Acknowledgement of Country, it also helped with something else. The advisor issued us with a challenge to use each pre-run briefing to share something about the history of the land or its characteristics.
We happily accepted this challenge! So far we have shared how the site would’ve become a coal dump had a plan to build a power station not been stopped by community action back in the late 1990s (Event #1), how the land is thought to have been highly valued by local aboriginal people because of its creeks, drainage lines and flora/fauna corridors (Event #2), and how the land provides habitat for many different species of migratory birds, including some that come from Japan and China each year (Event #3).
These Info Bites take about one minute to share and we are posting them each week on our Facebook page to keep track of them. So, if you are coming to Pioneer Dairy sometime, you can learn something about the site by reading those.
Last but not least! We have been lucky enough to form a good working relationship with a local coffee provider (and ex Barista trainer) who – with his van – is quickly becoming an essential part of our operation. Being tucked away on farmland, post-run socialising was always going to be a challenge, so we have had to bring the cafe to us. So far this is working well, and the wide open spaces of the dairy allows people to linger in a COVID-safe way.
Hope to see you visit us sometime!
A big thank you to the three parkrun Ambassadors that helped make Pioneer Diary parkrun a reality (John Newton, Andy Sutton and Jenny Denniss), along with the other EDs and volunteers from the four other Central Coast events. The support has been wonderful and a clear demonstration that – when it comes to parkrun – everyone is pulling in the same direction!!
Pioneer Diary Event Director
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