On another work outing to Wellington, we decided to try the Porirua parkrun, which saw its first running in the winter of 2013. We haven’t done it before and aren’t too sure when we will get the opportunity again.
After the previous night’s couple of glasses of bubbly (we had some compulsory celebrations to take care of ;-)) and getting to bed quite late, it was a challenge getting out of bed before five in the morning. Driving down to Porirua, I was still trying to wake up over a cup of coffee.
We were running late. Not sure how it always happens, but you are still well on time the one minute, and then “nek minute”, you’re late. As luck would have it, we also missed the turn-off in Porirua and had to keep going on the highway for another 5km. That happens when you start to doubt yourself and rather follow the phone’s instructions, despite weak reception and the GPS still trying to catch up!
Luckily the Porirua gang is very relaxed and it turned out we were well on time and even a bit early arriving a few seconds before 8am. They have heaps of awards for PBs (chocolate mini-slabs) and multi-PBs (jet planes for 3 or more PBs in a month), and so on, meaning that it took quite a while to get through all the formalities. On the bright side, it is rather nice to see people being rewarded for their efforts, even if it is just in the form of a jet plane or a chocolate fish.
By about 8:15 the whistle blew and we were on our way. The course is a lovely off-road track in Bothamley Park in Cannons Creek. With the lack of rain of late, it was a bit of a dust bowl in the gorge, but as the field of runners spread out, the dust was less prevalent. The path follows the Kenepuru Stream on a slow incline (40m elevation in total) until you reach the halfway mark. Turning around and running back the same way you came, meant a nice long downhill (potential) sprint to the finish. We were in no hurry, and just took it easy on the way out and back. Truth be told, a 6min/km pace to me these days does not come as “easy” as it used to, and it almost did feel like I was sprinting.
It was great that Gary could also make the trip across from his usual hangout (Kapiti parkrun) so we met up with him before the start. The three of us ran together chatting away and catching up, making the kilometres tick over in no time.
The Porirua parkrun must be one of the largest in NZ, boasting on average about 90 participants. They’re probably also be one of the oldest, having started in the winter of 2013, with the first NZ parkrun being staged in Lower Hutt in 2012.
The Porirua parkrun have a start/finish sign post, kilometre markers, as well as the turn-around point which are all permanent fixtures. This parkrun definitely feels more “inclusive” and although we were still in the back half of the field, there are lots of runners/walkers just taking it easy. Some with dogs, others with baby strollers, and others just out on a walk. Another contributing factor to the size and social aspect of this parkrun, might be that it is also used as a “green prescription”.
Coffee afterwards at the McDonald’s is encouraged.
It was warm and humid and being drenched, we stayed for a while afterwards to dry out a bit and rehydrate before heading off to work. A quick wet wipe shower was the best we could do before getting on with life.