News - 9th November 2022

parkrun profile: Invercargill

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For a while, Invercargill parkrun was a sought-after parkrun for challenge collectors. Not for its ‘I’ but for the fact it was the world’s most southern parkrun.

 

That mantel was lost when Cape Pembroke Lighthouse parkrun launched, but still, Invercargill remains New Zealand’s most southern (and westerly) and an event to visit in its own right.

 

Invercargill is in the Southland region of New Zealand, and just 20km from the most southern town of Bluff.

 

It had its inaugural run on February 10, 2018 with 103 finishers. It averages 108 each week.

 

Event director Liz Henry says it’s the community that makes it the place to be on a Saturday morning.

 

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“We have such a wonderfully positive group of people who join us for parkrun,” she says.

 

“I love that they can choose to come when it works for them and they know that we will be there when they come.

 

“It is an awesome thing that people feel confident in being able to come when they can. And equally really cool are the people that come every week.”

 

Invercargill parkrun is one of the few single-lap courses in New Zealand.

 

It traverses in and around Queen’s Park, mostly on sealed paths.

 

“Invercargill parkrun is an energetic, friendly and inclusive event that takes you on a journey through perhaps one of the most stunning and most English of parks in New Zealand.

 

“The course itself is easier to find your way around than the map shows! We have many marshals to ensure that you have a supported morning jaunt.

 

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“We start and finish at the duckponds, and take you on a journey through the beautiful rose gardens. It includes enjoying the wide expansive path that goes through a stunning walkway of English Beech and Silver Birch trees.

 

“Known as Coronation Avenue, it is the axis from which all parts of the park can be found and history and nature merge along the way.”

 

Liz was recognised for her contribution to parkrun when she was nominated for Administrator of the Year at the Southland Sports Awards.

 

She got Invercargill parkrun off the ground after a couple of visits to Australia.

 

“In 2016 I was on the Gold Coast for New Years with my sister who lived there. She made me go to Main Beach parkrun.

 

“I came in just before the Tail Walker and when I came through, there were 365 people still waiting for me to finish and clapping me through.

 

“I was a bit embarrassed but also thought it was pretty cool.

 

“My thought was if Australia can do it then what can we Kiwis do?

 

“I came back to New Zealand, made some enquiries and saw Dunedin was my closest one, but having done my studies there, there was no way I was running up that hill in the Botanical Gardens.

 

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“Later that year I went to Adelaide for a cousin’s wedding and we all did Torrens parkrun.

 

“It was a good way for everyone to get together and do something before the wedding. Again, there was a similar vibe.”

 

Invercargill’s launch

 

“After that, I got thinking about setting one up in Invercargill. “It took us eight months to get a course sorted.

 

“We were just about to go live when the council decided to dig up most of the park for drainage so we had to wait another seven months.

 

“When we first set up we thought 60 would be a success and that was the number we gave the council to get permission to run.

 

“Six months later we were getting more than 100 and they were blown away.

 

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“They hadn’t seen that many people in the park at that time before. About half of our field are walkers.

 

“We might not be the most southern anymore but we’re the most accessible, southern parkrun – Invercargill is easier and cheaper to get to than the Falkland Islands!”

 

After parkrun, parkrunners visit The Cheeky Llama Cafe in the middle of the park.

 

“I go for the hash browns and eggs with bacon.

 

“Admittedly, it isn’t officially on the menu. But it has become a thing that many of us enjoy for a post-parkrun brunch, along with a coffee of your choice of course!”

 

While in Invercargill

 

“Bill Richardson’s Transport World is one of the most highly-rated attractions in the city and is a must for anyone remotely interested in automobiles.

 

“It is one of the largest private collections of vehicles found anywhere in the world with over 300+ vehicles on display.

 

“Despite being in a naturally colder part of the city, Invercargill still boasts some magnificent beaches within its borders.

 

“Oreti Beach is definitely one of those and is a long stretch of beach characterised by hard-packed sand that you can drive on.

 

“It’s a great one for just about any beach activity you can imagine.

 

“Also known for being a great spot to capture an amazing sunset.

 

“We also have a great selection of wonderful cafes and restaurants to choose from!!”

 

What’s in a Name…

Invercargill parkrun is named for the city it’s in.

 

Inver comes from the Scottish Gaelic word inbhir meaning a river’s mouth. Cargill is in honour of Captain William Cargill, who was at the time the Superintendent of Otago, of which Southland was then a part.

 

Liz Henry

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