Megan Costello and Quentin Harvey are the co Event Directors at Gisborne parkrun, Quentin gives us some insight into this very beautiful parkrun on the sunny East Coast.
I knew vaguely about parkrun from reading about it in a running magazine. Within a month Megan came in to Sports Gisborne Tairawhiti to register for the Gisborne Herald Quarter Marathon and parkrun came up in conversation. It took us a couple of months to get the route sorted out, but then we were away! I was looking to get involved in the community and was drawn to the parkrun ethos of anyone can get involved at any level. I also enjoy running and was looking for an excuse to get out more. As it turned out, the start of this year was spent more in the volunteer roles than on the course, but in the last few months I’ve got back on the track and got my times back down to a sub-26 min. Our community is awesome, we have such a good group that comes every week and you get such a buzz seeing people improve their times week after week.
What is the most famous landmark on your course and why? The railway crossing. It’s just past the 1km mark. The path takes a little dog leg through the crossing, so can be a bit tricky to pick your line when going for speed. A couple of times a year, a train comes through this spot to pick up cruise ship passengers, but so far there’s been no conflict with parkrunners. A great spot to marshal and take photos.
What would you say to a ‘parkrun tourist’ to encourage them to visit your parkrun? Gisborne is the first place in the world to see the sun. Our NYD run is one for the bucket list. We’re a small parkrun, as we’ve yet to crack 100 participants, so if getting a lower position token is one of your aims – Gisborne is a great course for that, and as it’s a flat course it’s a good one for PBs. Gisborne parkrunners are a friendly social bunch and love a chat, also there’s a playground at the start/finish which is great for the kids (and supporters).
Is there anything unique or unusual about your event?
Gisborne parkrun starts and finishes right across from a beach. It’s common to share the area with surf life savers, surfers, paddleboarders, and kayakers. Running adjacent to the river you often see the waka ama groups practicing. There’s just something about being outside and seeing all these active groups making the most of their Saturday morning. There’s also showers at the start/finish for those really hot mornings!
Do you have an interesting story about one of your regular parkrunners or volunteers?
It’s almost too hard to choose. There’s the families that come together and all participate in one way or another – the Pinn family, Ruifrok, Norris, Houthijzen, McInnes, Oakely, Ney, Cumming, Page, Hull, Levy, and Ladd’s. There’s also a few who are guaranteed to cross the finish line together and make parkrun such a social and warm atmosphere – Bev and Francis, Jeanie and Toni, Tori and Richard, and DJ and Chris. We fondly refer to them as our “benchmarkers” – these are the friends and family members that ALWAYS complete parkrun together and their names are often used to help fix results. Then there’s Jo Turton, Daniel Joyce, Kara Hull, Brent Houthijzen and Katie Kirpatrick who have all made really impressive shifts in their times over multiple parkruns. We also love watching the speedsters – those who make running look easy and effortless.
What impact has your parkrun had on the local community? I think the biggest impact is the friendships that have formed as a result. These friendships have expanded beyond parkrun, as regulars are training together, or joining in on other local sporting events. The support the regulars give each other is palpable. The other special thing I notice about Gisborne parkrun is the number of families that all come out together and participate by either running or volunteering – there’s easily 4 or 5 families where the whole crew joins in – there’s even friendships between kids of different ages that are developing.
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