News - 29th June 2022

parkrun Profile: Owairaka parkrun

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Owairaka parkrun in Auckland is one of New Zealand’s newer parkruns. With a growing number of walkers, friendly locals and an amazing post-parkrun cafe, there’s something for everyone according to Event Director Julie Collard.

 

To the unassuming eye, the house opposite the Owairaka parkrun start line is nothing special. But to the initiated it has a place in running history as the once-home of legendary athletics coach Arthur Lydiard.

 

“He was one of the first people to promote running, or jogging then, as a way to health and fitness for everyone – surely a precursor to parkrun,” says Owairaka parkrun Event Director Julie Collard.

 

“He was known for his weekly 35k long runs in the Waitakeres, which started and finished at his home beside our course (5 Wainwright Ave). Afterwards they would sit in the kitchen enjoying a cup of tea and a chat – very interesting parallels to parkrun.”

 

Owairaka parkrun launched on October 24, 2020 with 209 finishers and 15 volunteers. It has an average 85 finishers a week. Due to multiple Covid pauses the event is still fairly young, its most recent event was number 58. The average finish time is 30:14.

 

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Julie describes it as “a flattish out and back on shared paths with a few undulations, good for a fast time, with a growing number of walkers, friendly locals and one of the best parkrun cafes”. One of those undulations is the bridge over State Highway 20, a feature unique to this city parkrun.

 

Owairaka is close to Western Springs parkrun and could be considered an off-shoot. Julie was a regular at that event when she decided there was an ideal spot for another parkrun. She was already a runner when parkrun entered her life with involvement through her running club Owairaka Athletics.

 

“I have always been a runner and even ran a bit competitively, but as I’m not super fast, pure enjoyment has always been a major factor in my running.

 

Most of all I love helping others to get the exercise bug, so I was involved with my local athletics club as a volunteer way before I got involved in parkrun.

 

I also started up a lunchtime run club at the intermediate school where I work as a teacher well before I even heard about parkrun.

 

In fact, a girl who ran in my run club told me about Cornwall parkrun, but as it was Saturday morning, I dismissed it as ‘a bit weird because it’s free’ and was also heavily involved in netball (managing and coaching teams for my school) at that time.

 

I got my family registered for parkrun after our summer holiday in January 2017. Since my first parkrun, at Cornwall Park, my head gets filled with some pretty wild ideas every time I am parkrunning.

 

That first summer’s morning in 2017 I remember thinking, ‘this is me, I love it and I want to get involved… maybe one day I’ll start a parkrun’.

 

And I did, eventually. I spent a few years running and volunteering at Western Springs (my first love) before plunging in sometime before the pandemic to start a new one up.

 

A course presented itself to me when a couple of local government/council projects serendipitously combined to create the perfect path alongside the amazing Te Auaunga Awa (Oakley Creek) that accommodated a 2.5k route unbroken by road crossings.

 

The bonus was the spectacular Te Whitinga (The Crossing) bridge spanning the SH20 motorway at the entrance to the Waterview Tunnel. The route passes through four parks, joined together by bridges of varying sizes and an underpass.

 

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We are a happy parkrun. We have a strong volunteer base and are growing our number of walkers a lot this year. Consequently, our average finishing time is slowing, despite being a relatively fast course.

 

Looking to the future, I believe we will continue to grow organically, by word of mouth mainly, but slow growth is good as we will keep our close-knit community thriving.

 

The thing that I have found the most rewarding from starting up Owairaka parkrun are the wonderful people who have joined this community as walkers, runners and volunteers (often all three at once!). They are a special lot.”

 

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After parkrun, participants walk the short walk down Owairaka Ave to L’Oeuf.

 

“L’Oeuf has great coffee, a superb menu and outstanding cabinet goodies.”

 

The Owairaka parkrun website is here.

 

You can follow Owairaka parkrun on Facebook here.

 

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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