Hazeldean Farm parkrun is a hidden gem in the East of Pretoria. You wouldn’t think that a mere 15 minutes drive from the estates, suburbs and shopping malls, you would find a trail parkrun on a working farm. Many visiting parkrunners have labelled it “One of my top10!”
Run by EDs Ingrid Hauger and Peter Wilgenbus (who both transported themselves over from Voortrekker Monument), Hazeldean Farm parkrun is a firm favourite with the Pretoria East crowd, with the standard greeting from Ingrid whilst standing on the gate a loud a booming “Good morning parkrunners!” not needing a mic to be heard. The team share more:
When was Hazeldean Farm parkrun set up? The parkrun started on the 27th April 2019 and missed our first birthday celebration thanks to the lockdown. But we celebrated our birthday anyway with a virtual parkrun and birthday cake at all our parkrunners’ houses instead.
Who was responsible for getting it off the ground? Peter Wilgenbus and farm owners, Evelyn Botha, worked really hard to introduce a trail parkrun to the Pretoria area. Evelyn had envisioned a trail parkrun as she loved trails and didn’t want to drive for an hour to get to a parkrun that would give the trail lovers their parkrun hit as well.
What have been the highlights of your event so far? Hazeldean Farm is a working farm and one of our unique volunteer positions is cow herder. One morning, just as the countdown was about to start, Ingrid turned around on her post to see the herd steering themselves straight into the start hatch where 400 parkrunners were ready to start. She had to send Evelyn and a few parkrunners out to move the cows back into the pasture so that we could start. This special role was broken in by Bruce Fordyce himself at the inaugural parkrun, where he too needed to move the herd a little to the side. In order to give them all the volunteer credit, we have to use the generic “Other” volunteer role though.
Who helps to make your parkrun a success? We have a team of 8 that you rarely don’t see.
Ingrid, the Event Director and consistent Run Director, Antoinette and Lardus do a course check every single week at 7, summer or winter to ensure that there is always a Run Director, timekeeper and 1 barcode scanner. Danie, our giant teddy bear, sets up every single Saturday whilst the rest are out on the course check. Frankie, Marie and Laura battle it out to be our tailwalkers every week. And then there are 2 special parkrunning volunteers – Max and Moritz. They don’t have a barcode but are there every week, and are especially keen on ensuring that no parkrunner gets threatened by any birds on the course. They are Ingrid’s Springer Spaniels and she is rarely seen without the 2 by her side.
What makes Hazeldean Farm parkrun unique? Cows, trails and the market you can have breakfast at afterwards. It is a full-on family experience.
What is the course like? Extremely hilly. No, that’s a joke; the most mountains you’ll find on the course are the mountains the cows leave behind. Fast, flat with single track running through the trees for 2kms and jeep track for you to really get your speed on!
What are the typical parkrunners who come like? Families with dogs. As 2 of the volunteers are springer spaniels, you will go amiss if do not see a dog at the parkrun! We pride ourselves on cheering in the speedies who are trying to break the course record, including some tiny junior SA Cross Country champs and those who are coming in for a chilled walk through the trees with Tannie Marie, Laura and Frankie as the tail walkers.
Have you had any notable visitors? Aside from international visitors, our most famous face that sneaks in often is Olympian LJ van Zyl for a speedy zip around the course.
What parkrunning success stories have you had? Our two biggest success stories are our volunteers Lardus and Danie. Lardus went from being a couch potato to running trail marathons (he runs to our venue and back as training). And Danie is very special and we are extremely proud of him. He went from a 1h30 parkrun to a PB of 52 minutes. It is also very noticeable to mention that he has also lost in excess of 100kg due to parkrunning and is a superb role model to us all.
What are the facilities like? The parkrun starts and stops at the Cowhouse Market which is a market with food stalls, antiques and the best coffee in Pretoria East. There are regular musicians performing from 10 on a Saturday and we have heard many a story of a parkrunner arriving at 7h30 and only leaving at 4 in the afternoon.
What is the one thing a first timer to your parkrun should know? You better not be afraid of cows!
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