This week’s event profile comes from Cambridge in the beautiful Waikato.
Event Director Brian Prescott and Christine Jenkins talk about this lovely, country parkrun:
I got asked if I would like to help set up Cambridge NZ parkrun. Later I found out I was the Event Director. Talk about being dropped in at the deep end. Fortunately we had plenty of support from Hamilton Lake parkrun and parkrun NZ.
I love this parkrun it is “mostly flat”
How would you describe your course to a first-timer?
It depends who you ask! Our ED will tell you most sincerely that it is ‘mostly flat’. Our first timers say ‘horrible’ and our die-hard regulars say ‘awesome’. Our course uses a section of the Te Awa shared cycle/walk way. It is a 3m wide concrete path with a couple of wood bridges to get you over a cattle track and a stream. There is a working dairy farm on one side of the path, and the mighty Waikato River on the other. We go out 2.5km, turn at the yellow cone, wave to the marshal, and head back to the start. The course is gently undulating, and there really are quite a few flat sections, but we do have an uphill finish which seems to make quite the impact on the overall perception of our course.
What is the most famous landmark on your course and why?
That would have to be our “Heartbreak Hill” at the finish and is also known as the ”destroyer of PBs”. Most parkrunners are happy that we only make them do half the hill. However, once a year, on our Christmas week parkrun we move the finish line to the very top of the hill.
But the thing most of our parkrunners are actively looking for during their run/walk is the yellow cone which means they have made it to half way. It’s a lot of fun volunteering to be the turnaround marshal because everyone is always so delighted to see you.
What would you say to a ‘parkrun tourist’ to encourage them to visit your parkrun?
Apart from the fact that Cambridge NZ can count towards a rare parkrun twin badge (complete Cambridge NZ and Cambridge UK parkruns) we always encourage our parkrun tourists to check our world class velodrome (the Avantidrome) after parkrun. Unless they are hosting a special event, it doesn’t cost anything to go inside and sit in the spectator area. If you’ve never seen a velodrome up close before you will be surprised how steep the track is. It’s well worth a look.
We also have our post-parkrun coffee at The Bikery Café in the Avantidrome. Their coffee and food is awesome. There is an outdoor courtyard which is lovely on a sunny day, and they kindly crank up the heating for us when we come in wet and bedraggled on those ‘character building’ parkrun mornings.
Is there anything unique or unusual about your event?
Well we’re in the Waikato so in winter we do get some heavy fog. There is something rather magical watching our parkrunners head off down the path and disappear into the mist. We can hear their voices and laughter but can’t see them until they’re right on top of us. Our timekeepers must be extra vigilant on foggy mornings.
Among other essentials (stopwatch, tokens, scanner) our equipment kit includes a collection of chalk. While the parkrunners are out on the course the volunteers like to write messages of support to our parkrunners for when they come up the hill to the finish line. The messages vary from cheeky to motivational depending on which volunteer is on ‘chalk duty’. There is also some fantastic talent among the young supporters who accompany the adult volunteers each week. There can be quite the selection of chalk art for the parkrunners to admire while they stand around chatting and catching up afterwards.
Do you have an interesting story about one of your regular parkrunners or volunteers?
One of our great volunteers – Doug. One day Doug might actually do our parkrun, but probably not this century!
Doug Jenkins is one of our very regular volunteers, (79 times and counting) but he is yet to complete / attempt our parkrun. The term “when hell freezes over” comes to mind. He has completed Cornwall park 5 times and Hamilton Lake once.
The Cambridge NZ community has been slowly growing over the last two years with lots of families involved and a great community spirit!
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