Think of Auckland parkruns and most visitors will name Cornwall Park and Western Springs.
In the northern reaches of the city is the hidden gem of Millwater. It was the lucky seventh parkrun to start in New Zealand, and the third in Auckland.
When it launched in September 2014 it had 61 walkers, runners and volunteers. These days it has an average of 137.
“We are an amazing supportive community of parkrunners, where friendships have been made, health goals achieved, and all in the vicinity of the beautiful Te Ara Tahuna Estuary,” says co-event director Claire Taylor.
“Millwater is a fairly flat and fast out-and-back course on a concrete path. Just a few undulating hills add interest as the course leaves the Metro Park Sports Field and winds itself along onto the Te Ara Tahuna estuary.
First timers usually say we’re a friendly bunch, who like to have fun! People enjoy our course, as they often get a decent time, and the wide pathways make it easy to walk and run.”
Millwater is one of the events in New Zealand that started because of the sponsorship deal with New Zealand Home Loans in the early days.
There were two couples who got the event off the ground, the Myburghs and the Faulkners. At the time Gavin Myburgh was involved with NZHL.
In 2018 Rhys Spyve took over as event director as the Myburghs moved away from Millwater. Claire joined as co-ED last year during the pause.
When parkruns in New Zealand returned in July 2020 Millwater represented Italy and as a result of that celebration they now have a special connection with the European country.
Claire has since chalked up more than 250 parkruns.
“When my Dad introduced me to parkrun back in 2014, I had no idea what impact this ‘free weekly timed’ event would have on my life. I was in the UK on a flying visit for my sister’s wedding, and Kesgrave parkrun had just started.
Dad and I had both recently taken up jogging, and this was to be my first organised running event. I recall being terribly nervous, and at that stage, I didn’t even own any lycra!
I went along in my old trainers, t-shirt and cotton leggings, and puffed my way around with Dad.
On my return to New Zealand a couple of weeks later, I discovered my closest event was here at Millwater which had, interestingly, started on the same day as Kesgrave. I turned up for their sixth event on 25 October 2014.
This thing called parkrun has changed my life. I am sure my younger self would be staring in disbelief at me running 5k every Saturday morning. I am fitter, stronger and more determined than I ever was in my youth.
I have made some wonderful friends. Friends of different ages, stages and demographics. Friends from an online parkrun community, some of whom I’ve met on the parkrun circuit, some I am yet to meet.
After parkrun the parkrunners head to Millie’s . It’s one of three local cafes who offer a discount with a parkrun barcode. Millie’s is always buzzing with parkrunners and locals.
“Millie’s has a fantastic hot brunch menu, and have some good gluten-free options too,” Claire says.
If you’re interested in volunteering at parkrun, please contact the local team via their website or their social media channels, or speak to them at the event. Here are some short videos about some of the fun and easy volunteering opportunities available every week:
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