News - 12th November 2020
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University of Waikato parkrun launches

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New Zealand’s newest event launched on the weekend, the first event to be hosted at a University. Event Director Nicola Clayden takes a look back at launch day.

 

Lex Chalmers cut the ribbon to launch the University of Waikato parkrun, New Zealand’s 32nd parkrun! Lex is the architect of this course; his perseverance and commitment are truly admirable.

 

It was wonderful to have 190 participants at the University to share this moment, a culmination of over 12 months work, and there were people from Balclutha in the South Island to Whangarei (the top of the North Island).

 

Our volunteers worked like clockwork, many of them students of the University of Waikato. Student volunteer hours can be put towards the University’s Employability Plus Programme which will benefit their future curriculum vitae.

 

Master of Business and Management student, Arjun Raina, sees himself as a part-time runner. “The parkrun volunteer roles inspired and motivated me, especially when I met Lex Chalmers (I can proudly say that he’s become one of my biggest inspirations in this sport). parkrun enables me to follow my passion and give back to my community. It has given me a sense of belonging to this community of runners. It was quite an astonishing sight to see all age groups coming together for the University of Waikato parkrun, all committed towards a common goal. I am now training to be a Run Director.”

 

We are proud to be the first University in New Zealand to host a parkrun and share the campus through parkrun, one participant described the course as ‘picturesque and tranquil’. The course loops around lakes and through gardens and even some ducklings joined in the launch festivities!

 

parkrun is a great way to help the wellbeing of our community, we hope students enjoy the camaraderie of parkrun and in the process gain the health benefits of regular exercise and friendships.

 

Some milestones were achieved with Jaki Dwight (Hobsonville Point) completing her milestone 100th parkrun, Mark Bouwman (Lower Hutt) able to say he has run all 32 of NZ parkruns and Steve Darby (Airedale Dodgers, UK; 539 parkruns) not only travelled the greatest distance, but also reports the most parkruns of any finisher; legend!

 

The parkrun community is very special, so friendly, welcoming and helpful. We received huge support for this launch, including from members of the Hamilton Lake parkrun and parkrun international. Small improvements can be made, many were discussed over coffee, but overall we had a fun, energising first University of Waikato parkrun where many new friendships were made! #loveparkrun

 

Nicola Clayden

Event Director
University of Waikato parkrun

 

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