Mark Malone is the Event Director of Lower Hutt parkrun in Lower Hutt near Wellington, here he tells us about the first parkrun in New Zealand, which celebrated 7 years of parkrunning last Saturday!
How did you get involved with parkrun and why you love your event:
I ran my first parkrun to see how fast I ran a timed, flat 5km, vs all the hills and trails I normally run. This was event #2 at Lower Hutt (and NZ) as I was busy doing another event the week before. Then I thought, ‘surely I can get faster’…. Turn up, run, and home before 9.
Eventually, my wife got annoyed at being woken up so early on Saturday morning, so she got up to go for a walk while I ran. Of course, I registered her for parkrun that morning and said she should walk parkrun (which turned into a walk/run).
It wasn’t until I was asked to become a Run Director later that year, that we started going to the café and getting more into the social side of parkrun.
The Buzz Café is just down the road from the start/finish. Yummy food, including scones, of course.
Since then, I have enjoyed seeing the local parkrun community grow, people making new friends, and simply supporting each other.
How would you describe your course to a first-timer?
Lower Hutt parkrun is the hardest flat parkrun you are likely to run, whether being demoralised by the prevailing Northerly for the run home, or blasted by a bitter Southerly on the way out. Of course, on the occasional calm day, there are PBs galore.
What is the most famous landmark on your course and why?
The Hutt River, especially after a heavy rain, and everyone is worried it is going to flood the course. So far, it’s always receded by Saturday morning, although one Saturday we had to move the Start to the top of the stopbank because the lower path by the start was flooded – the rest of the course was ok.
What would you say to a ‘parkrun tourist’ to encourage them to visit your parkrun?
Obviously, Lower Hutt parkun, as the first parkrun in NZ, is a mandatory pilgrimage event to visit.
Do you have an interesting story about one of your regular parkrunners or volunteers?
Kirk Olsson, who did his first parkrun at Event 99 on 8 March 2014, has been at every Lower Hutt parkrun event since then. He completed 151 parkruns in a row, then volunteered 3 times, and has run every event since, and has now completed 270 parkruns (including 2 at Porirua for New Year’s Day doubles). He has also done several Run Report volunteers.
What impact has your parkrun had on the local community?
Many groups and friendships have developed. There is the ‘Travelling Circus’ that parkrun tourists travel to other parkruns widely, including inaugurals (for all other NZ parkruns, it would be rare for there not to be a Lower Hutt parkrunner there). And the Riverbank Runner’s group encourage runners of all abilities to get additional runs in during the week.
Cornwall parkrun is situated near to One Tree Hill in Epsom, Auckland. This parkrun was the second event to start in New Zealand back in July 2012. Lian and Noel de Charmoy decided that Cornwall Park would be the perfect spot to have a new parkrun so spoke to the Cornwall Park Trust who…
Wow – Porirua parkrun is 6 years old – coincidently it is also about 6 years since I first arrived in New Zealand – it seems like I have lived here my whole life! I can remember when I first arrived and wore out a pair of walking shoes in about 2 months tramping…