Martin O’Sullivan

It started out as a way of helping a friend’s son. 

Ten years on Martin O’Sullivan (A291411) is one the few parkrunners to have run all New Zealand events and one of the even fewer in New Zealand to have run more than 400 (at the time of publishing he sits on 447).

“My friend’s son needed to get in shape so she asked if I would mentor him, so I arrived at parkrun week 5.

“I’d been playing football all my life but I’d started enjoying it less.

“My friend from work, her son was in Year 10 at school, was out of shape and needed to improve his focus. She felt it was a good idea to start parkrun. He was there week 1.

“She told me about it and asked if I would go along and give him some company. That’s how I got started, by mentoring and motivating him.”

Lower Hutt was New Zealand’s first parkrun, and as a consequence Martin didn’t get into parkrun tourism until New Year’s Day 2014 when he visited Porirua.

That year he had a New Year’s Resolution to run all six of the current New Zealand events.

As a consequence when Debra Bourne’s book parkrun: Much more than just a run in the park was published Martin’s name appeared as one of the six to have run them all.

International tourism

“Later in the year I would run at St Peters in Sydney, Bushy in England, Main Beach on the Gold Coast and then Millwater and Hagley in New Zealand for their inaugural events. 

“By then we were hooked into parkrun tourism and completed some of the challenges. 

“I’ve completed all of the NZ parkrun events travelling to many with my two son’s Trent and James and my sister Chrissy Robertson, we all have countryman status.”

There are 36 events in New Zealand at the time of writing, Martin has run at 62 locations worldwide.

Some of his runs have involved more planning than others.

“We have had many early starts over the years, one of the most memorable ones was when I was away on a work trip in Asia. On the Thursday I left inner Mongolia  and travelled to England via Beijing, arriving at 9.30pm at Heathrow airport on the Friday night. 

“Richard McChesney, the parkrun NZ founder, picked me up early in the morning to run at Upton Court. After the run he dropped me off at the airport and I headed off to Germany for a show I was attending.

“Another time I was working in Sydney during the week and flew Friday night to Brisbane to run at Zillmere to complete the alphabet challenge. I did the same thing another time, this time flying to Melbourne to tick off a J at Jells parkrun.


“There have been many highlights to my travels. I really enjoyed New Zealand events with family and some of our parkrun tourist friends, running in Oxford with Richard and Kemp, Bushy Park with Richard and Zac (McChesney, Richard’s son), Yeovil Montacute with Richard and then two occasions in Singapore. I’ve also run 20 courses in Australia.

“We are fortunate in New Zealand to have some of the most picturesque parkruns in the world with stunning scenery, including Queenstown, Wanaka and East End, which are stunning on a fine winter’s day with snow on the mountains.

“Then you have the fast courses like Pegasus, Gisborne, Palmerston North and Lower Hutt or the trail courses such as Otaki River, Puarenga, Porirua, Greytown Woodside Trail, Kapiti Coast and Hamilton Park.

Top 3

“To settle on three would be Queenstown and Puarenga as they are very New Zealand, located in tourist spots. 

“Queenstown is a stunning course in winter with the snow on the mountains. The course is a mixture of pavement and trail through the beautiful trees and down to the waterfront. 

“Puarenga in Rotorua, you have thermal activity all around you, the smell of the sulphur in the air as you run around the two-lap course with steam bubbling up in various places around the course. 

“For my third, Glass House Mountains Conservation in Brisbane, Australia. I travelled to this event with my boys to complete #3 on the Wilson index.

“We drove an hour from our hotel to the middle of nowhere arriving in the dark at 6.30am ready for a 7am start. 

“We started to wonder if we were in the right place until headlights started to arrive. There were only 30 people in total, it was an out and back trail course, downhill on the way out and uphill on the way back. 

“I made the mistake of taking the lead and led for 4.5km before being overtaken and settling for third.”

Bucket list

Like every parkrun adventurer Martin has an ever growing bucket list of events he’d like to run. Though like many, one of his bucket list events is no longer operational.

“I’d liked to have run at Crissy Field in San Francisco. Running under the Golden Gate Bridge and past Alcatraz has always appealed to me.

“I’d also like to run at Hamilton Island. I’ve seen the Ironman on TV run in here and looks a great tourist destination.

“I was going to run at Albert Park in Melbourne but the motor racing was on so the event was closed. Running around Melbourne past the tennis stadium would be great.

“And Germany, anywhere there would be great. I visit every two years and have done a couple of freedom runs at Wohrder See in Nuremberg.”

Martin is keen to highlight the importance of volunteers at parkrun. He has his V100 milestone and his sons also volunteer.

“Volunteering is an important part of parkrun and without volunteers we can’t run events.

“There are plenty of roles which can be done at most events so please check out the volunteer roster and add your name to the list. 

“I would also encourage you to download the 5k app, it gives you all your parkrun data, go onto the app store, put in 5k and download the white runner on the purple background.”


TOC from sunny Inverloch

Long-time listeners of the parkrun Adventurers podcast will know the name TOC.

Also known as Tony O’Connell from “Sunny Inverloch” TOC has been a parkrun tourist from the very beginning.

He and his wife Jacqui live in Cape Paterson, Victoria, but his first parkrun experience happened in New South Wales at Merimbula on December 28 2013.

“The year 2013 was a real journey for me,” he says.

“I signed up to an Improvement challenge at a gym and lost 40kg in about 20 weeks.

“At 48 years old, for the first time in my life I started to run and got really addicted to bootcamps.

“We were going away for Christmas to New South Wales and my wife Jacqui was looking for activities to keep me busy.

“She signed me up to parkrun!!

“I ran at Merimbula and absolutely loved it.

“This started on again, off again trips to parkrun as my nearest was over 90 minutes away. I decided we needed one closer and got involved with setting Inverloch parkrun up in 2014.”


Four months after Inverloch’s launch TOC’s passion for parkrun resulted in a Territory Director’s role within parkrun Australia.

“It has been a massive privilege to be able to help guide many events in Victoria towards their launch.

“parkrun has become such an important and ingrained part of our lives, I wish I had got involved earlier.”

He’s certainly making up for it! TOC was bitten by the parkrun bug quickly and had already been adventuring before Inverloch was established.

Going on further flung adventures was the next step.

“Two months after Inverloch launched we flew to Queensland to do Calamvale’s launch as this was the 100th parkrun to launch in Australia and it seemed like the thing to do.

“We also went to Railton in Tasmania as the 250th Australian event.

“From there the challenges started to land at my feet – I was the 13th person to reach the Peel Club, running every state and territory in Australia and was the 160th person in the world to reach the Alphabet Club.”

TOC says many adventures have started at “stupid o’clock”.

“One of our earliest starts was heading to Nhill parkrun in western Victoria.

“We were staying in the Grampians and had done all the surrounding events, so thought why not drive a bit further and complete a new event.

“Bev and the team made us feel most welcome and even brought tupperware full of cake to the event.

“We regularly leave home at “stupid o’clock” to drive to a parkrun. This is often around 5am.”

A freedom run at Sandgate during PALM2021

parkrun adventures overseas

As well as travels around Australia, TOC has also had international adventures.

“The furthest we have travelled to do a parkrun was to Taman Pudu Ulu in Malaysia.

“It was an incredible experience. Harry, a local in Kuala Lumpur, collected us from our motel in the morning and took us to parkrun.

“He took us out to breakfast then spent the day driving us around Kuala Lumpur. He showed us both the tourist sites, but more importantly the sites that the locals like to visit, that don’t appear in any tour guide.

“This was such an incredible experience.”

Tony and Jacqui With Harry

TOC says his highlights are all to do with the people he’s encountered along the way.

“While many parkruns are spectacular for their views, the waterways or a myriad of other reasons the highlight of parkrun is the people.

“Whether it’s meeting up with old friends at our annual PALM get-togethers, catching up with friends at coffee or just meeting new people before, after and during parkrun.

“We have been fortunate to visit some incredible locations but deep down it all comes back to the conversations held and the friends met – whether old or new.

“A large part of our travels have been to spend either a weekend, or even longer in smaller towns and explore the region.

“It would be fair to say we would not have been to many of these towns without the lure of parkrun.”

Top 3

TOC’s top three take in three different states.

“Inverloch has to be my top recommendation. Meeting at the Stump the course runs a double out and back along the seashore with views to Bass Strait and Andersons Inlet.

“I love the out and back format as the faster runners and the slower finishers get to interact. It has a good car park close to the start line and all of the facilities needed.

“Kate Reed in Launceston, Tasmania is probably my favourite parkrun course to run on.

“It has some great challenging hills, lots of single trail goodness and is a very runnable trail. Who doesn’t love hills, mud, rock hopping and an uphill finish?

“Picking a number three is so tough with so many brilliant parkruns around. An honorable mention to The Beaches but I have to give it to Nambour parkrun.

“Where else can you have an up close experience with a wild emu after bombing up and down some loose gravelly trails with a creek crossing.

“This was the most challenging of all the parkrun locations I have done, and I love a challenge!”

Bucket list

Bucket list events also offer up some challenges.

“Events like Mundy Regional in Western Australia, Anstey Hill in South Australia and Victory Trail in Queensland.

“I really like the trail type events, and if they have hills, even better.

“Overseas I would love to do Bushy, just because!

“As well as Piggly Wiggly parkrun and Cannibals Cave parkrun in South Africa because the names sound so cool.”


South Aussie Statesman Errol Poole

High on Errol Poole’s bucket list is a parkrun with his name on it.

Poole parkrun and Bushy parkrun are the two places this Australian uber tourist would like to get to.

“Bushy Park as that is where it all began and it’d be a great experience running with so many other parkrunners. Also I’d like to do Poole parkrun as that is my surname.”

Adelaide-based Errol has run 343 parkruns and 175 different events. It all started because he wanted to meet new people.

“My very first parkrun was at the launch of Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills in March 2014.

“I read about the start of Mount Barker in the local newspaper. 

“I wasn’t a runner at the time but I thought it would be a good social activity and a way of meeting new people – I had recently moved to the area and didn’t know anyone.”

Five months later he had his first tourism experience – and interstate parkrun – with a run at Albert parkrun in Melbourne. 

First challenges

“I’m originally from Victoria so whenever I went back home for Christmas holidays I would find a parkrun to go to.

“Although I had already been to a few different parkrun events, it wasn’t until about two years into my parkrun journey that I started to take on some of the tourist challenges. 

“My daughter, Khloe, and I started working on the alphabet challenge.

“Planning to tick off most of the letters for the alphabet involved a lot of travelling because most of the letters needed were interstate parkruns. 

“At the time I started there weren’t many parkruns in South Australia. Fortunately I still had family in Victoria where I returned quite often for Christmas and special occasions.  

“I also was working in Northern NSW for a while, which enabled me to tick off the final alphabet letters needed, as well as tour to many other different parkruns. 

“I’ve actually completed the alphabet challenge almost twice now, just needing another Z.”

They travelled to Western Australia in 2017 to collect their Q, Errol says this is the furthest they’ve travelled specifically for a parkrun.

“Visiting Quinns Rocks parkrun and touristing in general,  gives you a chance to explore areas where you may not normally visit. 

“I also visited Manjimup parkrun south of Perth while I was there. 

“Quinns Rocks parkrun is on the coast so it was lovely to run beside the beach. It surprisingly has a few little hills on the turnaround points. 

“Some of the Mawson Lakes course goes around a lake and is pretty much a flat course.”


Errol says his parkrun tourism is restricted to a drive of less than two hours on the day, otherwise it’s an overnight stay. 

He has two older children who live in Adelaide and Melbourne and they rarely run together, but Errol’s biggest parkrun tourism highlight involves a family holiday where everything came together.

“My biggest highlight was when I organised a trip to Cairns for my birthday with my three children. It was great to attend a parkrun with them.

“It gives me much joy when one or more of my kids visit a parkrun with me. Sadly it’s just me who regularly parkruns now.”

At Newborough for Christmas 2019

Top three

Errol’s top three parkrun visits cover a variety of terrains. His three are The Beaches and Merrimbula in New South Wales and Kate Reed parkrun in Tasmania.

“The best parkrun experience I would recommend is at The Beaches parkrun when it’s high tide.

“It is so much fun trying to run in knee-deep water when a wave hits you. 

Kate Reed parkrun in Tasmania is a great parkrun if you enjoy trails. It’s in a beautiful area and most of the course is on singletrack. 

“It has a few technical sections and is a good challenge.  

“I found some cheap flights over to Tasmania during the Christmas/New Year period so I jumped at the chance to attend two more parkrun events. 

“I hadn’t actually planned on going to Tasmania for a holiday. I think I was only there for four days but managed to do two different parkruns, one being on New Year’s Day. 

“Merimbula parkrun in New South Wales is a unique experience as a lot of the course is run on a boardwalk over the water.

“It takes a bit of planning if I want to complete a particular parkrun challenge but these days I just like to visit different parkruns and hopefully pick up a Wilson Index number as well. 

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a few months off from working which has enabled me to travel around some of Queensland visiting different parkruns while staying with family.” 


Erica Leota

If it hadn’t been for her new partner Erica Leota (A566221) would most likely be a passionista parkrunner at Sandgate in Brisbane.

Instead she’s passionate about touring, completing challenges and supporting her parkrunner friends do the same – on New Year’s Day she was at Zillmere celebrating a friend’s 250th and birthday run. 

She’s run at 85 locations on her quest to complete all in Queensland.

“I honestly can’t remember how I found out about parkrun. 

“I didn’t have any friends that ran. 

“It took me forever to go to my first event after signing up too. 

“I was too scared to go on my own but I ended up making a deal with myself. 

“If I bought a barcode to go on my keys then it was official and I had to go.”

That first run

“When it arrived I had no choice but to pull up my big girl pants and attend.”

That was May 24, 2014. Erica has since run another 250 times in Queensland and beyond.

Her first experience of parkrun tourism was on a family holiday to Cairns.

“I snuck out in the billion percent humidity to give it a try. 

“But I got the start line wrong and it was a 1.2km bolt to get to the right start line before parkrun began. 

“I arrived just as they said on your marks, get set, go. 

“The humidity was crazy, I was already sweating like a pig. 

“Then when I had finished my paper barcode wouldn’t scan because it was destroyed in sweat!”

At Zillmere


“It wasn’t until I met my partner that I actually started touring and finding out about these challenges. 

“I didn’t have 20 tourists under my belt, and he showed me all these new levels I could unlock in the parkrun world. 

“I just went to Sandgate parkruns most weeks as it was where I knew everyone. Now I only go to Sandgate once, maybe twice a year.”

Erica’s steadily working on the running challenges. She’s completed Pirates and Staying Alive and is half way through the Australian Compass Club (Kingscliff and Geeveston tick).

With Queensland parkruns spread around there’s plenty of travel just to gain statesmanship.

“Not including flying, my earliest wake up and drive to parkrun would have to be New Year’s Day parkrun at Wondai which was about 3 1/2 hours away. 

“I organised with my friends to do Wondai on New Year’s Day and then Miles the next day as we were getting two parkruns in two days.

“At 2am everyone arrived at my place. The only trouble was, I hadn’t woken up to my alarm.

“Luckily I had all my stuff prepped the night before. 

“I literally woke up to everyone outside wondering where I was. I had five minutes to grab my things and go!! 

“After Wondai we drove to Miles and did their parkrun the next day making it an 800 km round trip for two parkruns.”


To most parkrunners that could be the longest trip purely for parkrun. Erica can beat that.

“Geeveston in Tasmania is my furthest parkrun travelled. 

“We flew from Brisbane to Tassie so I could run the Gone Nuts 75km race.

“Then in the last couple of days of our 10 day holiday we drove to the bottom of Tasmania to attend Geeveston parkrun. 

“The funny thing is that out of the 30 parkrunners we bumped into someone else touring who I knew from Chermside parkrun which is just down the road from my home in Brisbane.

“The highlights for me have been  the small country town parkruns where the run director and volleys invite you to breakfast afterwards so you can chat about all things parkrun and running.”

At Bunyaville

Top 3

Erica’s top 3 are Cleveland, Victory Heights and Emerald.

“Cleveland has lots of different things for the eyes to see, great views, some hills and boardwalks. I don’t know why but I love a good boardwalk.

“Victory Heights is single trail goodness! I love the trails so this one was a real treat.

“Emerald is an oasis in a desert. From palm tree to a few hill loops. It has a fun bouncy bridge to cross, numbered directions to help you along the way and the locals are really friendly. Plus you can go fossicking not too far away so it’s a great parkrun adventure holiday to have.”

As for parkruns on the bucket list?

“The Beaches in Newcastle. I’ve attempted this one twice and both times my flights have been cancelled so third time lucky would be great.

“I’m also yet to tick off a parkrun in a different country so I’m keen for all the international holidays to recommence in the future.”

You can follow Erica on Instagram at run_with_erica


Wendy Banks: parkrun baker (+recipe)

Forget trying to make a work of art, the key to a great milestone cake is one that can be eaten by all.

The Great Kiwi Bake-Off contestant Wendy Banks (A5223856) has been wowing TVNZ viewers with her baking prowess, including her signature chocolate brownie and showstopper Remarkables cake.

But the Queenstown parkrunner is best known in her community for the cakes she’s made for milestone events.

Her first was a cake for Queenstown’s 100th event.

“I made the cakes as numbers. One of the numbers was vegan, one was gluten-free and the other was a regular chocolate cake. 

Celebrating Queenstown’s 100 parkruns

“That way everyone was included and could have a piece as a lot of the time there’s someone who can’t eat it.

“It’s also important to make something easy to cut, I did two layers. Years ago I used to do a lot of fondant work but I’ve moved away from that. It’s so labour intensive.

“There’s no point doing anything healthy because people want cake. You shouldn’t be feeling that you can’t eat it.”

Great Kiwi Bake-Off

Wendy was one of 10 Kiwi home bakers to feature on the show, each week being challenged to produce three items. 

One was a “signature” based on set criteria, the second was a technical round – each baker had to make the same item and it was judged blind. 

The third was a “showstopper”, where bakers pulled out all the stops to wow the judges.

Wendy won star baker in week three in the Aotearoa round when she created a cake representing the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu.

The Remarkables

“That cake would have taken me 10 hours over a few days but you have to smash it out in four hours.

“One of the good things that came out of the experience was I did a lot of things I wouldn’t have normally done. Cakes are my strength but for this show you definitely have to be an all rounder.

“After filming finished I did lots of baking and people have noticed my baking is at another level.”

Baking background

“I didn’t bake much when I was younger. It was only when we came here and it was for the kids. I got a Kitchen Aid as a wedding present, not because I baked but because it looked nice!

“Baking was something I could do with the kids.”

At Queenstown parkrun

Wendy and her husband Iain moved to New Zealand in 2003 from Perth, Scotland. They have three sons, Brodie, Coen and Hudson.

They started going to parkrun on Christmas Day 2018. 

‘I didn’t know much about it. In the UK Christmas is a big family thing and I thought we could all go down for a run and start our own Christmas tradition.

“I just loved it. Christmas at parkrun is quite special. People dress up, it has a nice feel.

“Queenstown parkrun is quite small with its number of runners. A lot of people talk to me about it and then say they have to practice before they come along but I say just come, walk if you have to. 

“The fitter women ask me for my time, some people might be competitive but the competition is just with yourself.”


When parkrun went on pause back in 2020 Wendy started running 5km every day. She’s kept on going – running small laps while filming. She ran her 500th 5km at Hobsonville Point parkrun.

“I got my fastest ever parkrun time when I was there, probably from the change of scenery!”

As well as being a keen runner, Wendy is also a run director at Queenstown. Her family all volunteer, with Brodie volunteering as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Award.

“I got into run directing when it ended up being just Chris and Jamie (Seymour, the event directors).

“Every weekend they were at parkrun. They asked for volunteers and I put my hand up so they could go away on weekends. I also wanted to be a good example to my boys.

“It’s a great way to be part of the community.”

Mini Christmas Puddings (makes 6)


100g fruit mix (currants, raisins, mixed peel etc)
5 x plain biscuits (any kind I used nice)
60g melted dark chocolate
20g melted white chocolate
4 glace green cherries cut lengthwise to resemble leaves
4 glace red cherries cut into small pieces

  1. Crush biscuits in food processor or in a sealed bag and roll them over with a rolling pin until finely crushed.
  2. Melt dark chocolate in a pot over low heat.
  3. Place biscuits into the chocolate and add the fruit mix. Mix together until combined.
  4. Shape mixture into 6 little balls.
  5. Melt white chocolate in a pot over low heat. Using a teaspoon drizzle over the balls.
  6. Place the cherries on top of the white chocolate to resemble mini Christmas puddings

Follow Wendy on instagram at Three Bears Cakery.


John Matthews: International Slow Travel

parkrun can be whatever you want it to be, for some people visiting a different parkrun each week is what they enjoy most and UK parkrunner John Matthews (A10378) is no exception.

John has run the third most events of all parkrunners.

At the time of writing he has run 411 different events and 485 parkruns in all.

What makes John stand out from other uber tourists is that he’s completed parkruns in many other countries, enough to appear on the most events tables for seven of them – Australia (25), Singapore (3), New Zealand (18), Canada (15), Netherlands (6), Finland (2) and Italy (10), as well as his home base in the UK.

He’s completed parkruns in 18 of the parkrun countries but it may surprise readers to know he didn’t start off in this fashion.

How it started

It started with a move to Surrey and a new community.

“My dad was a statistician and I was embarrassed to join a running club where he was president. So when I moved I joined a running club.

“Friends there asked if I wanted to come to this thing called parkrun. They would go to Banstead Woods as Bushy was getting 300 then and they thought it was too busy.

“I didn’t go every weekend. It was a few months before I went to Bushy. parkrun was something I did now and then with friends. Gradually it pulled me in.

“There was a one-off at Morden Hall in June 2009, it was only my 20th parkrun (editor’s note: John’s first parkrun was on December 22, 2007).

“I thought, what if it never happens again? I should go to it.

“Then over several years I stopped going out on a Friday night and started making parkrun more of a priority. I would occasionally do a new one.

“Then I started building touring in.”

John at Railton parkrun in Tasmania

Travelling Down Under

He visited the events in and around Leeds where he went to university, revisiting places that had been part of his student life.

Then he ran all of the events in and around the Manchester area as there were several already up and running there.

“That’s how I thought about it.

“When I travelled through New Zealand people were surprised I was going to a different one each week but it’s easy as a tourist.

“As a real person with a life it’s not so easy. But by then it was my lifestyle.”

The New Zealand trip came on the back of a trip to Australia, where John combined two loves – The Ashes cricket series and parkrun.

It was 2013 and he’d decided to take a year off from work.

He travelled to Australia the long way, visiting countries that at the time had no parkrun but where there are parkruns now – Russia, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia.

The Ashes tour visits the big cities, so he ran parkruns in Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth.

“It was a terrible series for England. I’d only go to the first day so they couldn’t lose on that day. It was fantastic, but hard to watch.”

He then travelled on to New Zealand where there were just six parkruns, so he ran them all.

Full time tourism

John ended up leaving his work and returned to Australia and New Zealand in 2017/2018.

“I thought, if I quit now I can go to the Ashes and Commonwealth Games; going to parkrun was definitely part of that.”

He ended up in Tasmania at Railton parkrun and that was where he learned of the Peel Club.

“I was talking to one of the run directors and they mentioned it. By then I was up to six.

“I just needed to go to Canberra and the Northern Territory. I hadn’t planned it but Canberra I probably would have got to.

“I did a car relocation from Sydney to Canberra, and Northern Territory was an extra trip after the Commonwealth Games.

“It’s all entirely down to that run director that I joined the Peel Club.”

Best laid plans

John is one of 15 Peel Club members who has also run a parkrun on both the North and South Island of New Zealand.

When he arrived back in New Zealand in 2018 he had 12 weeks planned to run the remaining 12 parkruns.

John at Hamilton lake parkrun on his first visit.

Unfortunately for John, 2018 was the year that parkrun in New Zealand experienced exponential growth, with nine new events by the end of the year – and several while he was on the ground.

“I’d planned to be there for 12 weeks to run all 18 but within that time they’d started two or three more.

“It hadn’t occurred to me that could happen.”

Future adventures

He says he’d like to return to New Zealand so he can visit all the newer events – and enjoy the Kiwi hospitality.

“In an alternate reality I saw the pandemic coming and ran away to New Zealand just in time, and I’m probably still there.

“I remember being in Christchurch at a test match and talking to the man next to me. After 10 minutes he said, if you’re ever in Nelson here’s my number, come and stay with me.

“I met Richard McChesney [founder of Lower Hutt parkrun] at Portrush in Northern Ireland.

“We got chatting and I put me in touch with Rob Hammington and Mark O’Sullivan and they looked after me on that first visit.

“Incredibly hospitable people.

“I saw Mark again in 2018 when Hannah Oldroyd and I were running at Kapiti Coast.”

John (in the 250 shirt) with Hannah Oldroyd at Kapiti Coast parkrun

You can probably tell that he likes to spend time in each country, enabling himself the chance to experience the culture, reduce his carbon emissions and also save money in the process.

It’s because of an astute investment, when he was in his 20s, that he can indulge in such parkrun tourism.

He neither owns a house, nor has a family, though he has a girlfriend in the US who also likes to travel.

“I live relatively cheaply, which also helps. That’s one of the reasons I spend a long time in places – the longer the stay the cheaper it gets.”

John’s advice:

“If goals motivate you then pick a challenge. I’m very flighty. I get distracted a lot.

“Don’t let it obsess you. That may be a foolish thing to say, given where I am but I don’t regret anything.

“Don’t forget the joy of your local parkrun.”

You can read about John’s adventures on his blog here.


The (not)Peel Club

Visiting parkruns based on song lyrics, or virtually revisiting places of significance has led to two Aussie parkrunners completing (not)parkrun challenges.

Sam and Luke Schroder are among the hundreds of parkrunners recording (not)parkruns while on pause.

And like Bruce Purdie and Nadine Crawford, they are doing it with a twist.

Neither are close to completing the official Peel Club, but thanks to (not)parkrun they have the virtual version under their belts while on lockdown in New South Wales.

“Bruce Purdie suggested the alphabet (not) challenge in a comment somewhere.

“I had just hit serious Groundhog Day blues in week whatever of lockdown 2.0 and it was just the idea I needed to lift my spirits.

The challenge

“Luke and I chose different parkruns for most letters of the alphabet and when I realised I had inadvertently gone everywhere except the Northern Territory I locked in Nightcliff for the (not) PEEL.”

Luke logged a (not)parkrun at Palmerston for NT and Main Beach for Queensland to join Sam in the club a few days later.

“For me it’s been quite personal. I’ve chosen places I lived growing up, places where people I love live, extra special courses I’ve been to, etc.”

“For Luke, he’s trying to choose every course based on an Australian rock song. He’s doing very well, he’s ‘visited’ towns that appear in songs or towns of special relevance to his favourite bands.”

These include Applecross (Applecross Wing Commander by You Am I), Benalla (it’s featured in the song Long Load by The Fauves) and Devonport (Lights of Devonport by Weddings, Parties, Anything).

“Proper parkrunners like you and me think it’s cool, but I do think some people think I’m a bit too obsessed with my spreadsheets!”

How it started

Sam’s first official parkrun was at Bowral, NSW, on March 11, 2017.

“Several years before we ever tried it, a friend told us about Parramatta parkrun.

“We didn’t know until later they happened all over the place.

“Our first tourist run was in November 2018. We did Bathurst parkrun the day before my first time running Mount Panorama Punish, which might just be my favourite running event besides parkrun.

“If we were away somewhere near a parkrun, and it suited, we would do it, but for Luke and I, serious parkrun tourism and a passion for the challenges kicked off on November 23 2019, the first Saturday of our 16 week road trip around Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales.


“We’ve had many memorable experiences, including my PB at my home course of Picton in 2019, where so many of my beautiful running friends were there to watch me vomit and cheer me on.

“And meeting beautiful people who have become friends on our road trip at Meningie, Lochiel and Port Lincoln in SA.

“My top three are Picton, Mount Gambier and Merimbula.

“Picton because it’s my home run and I’ve been involved since the start, helping with trials and tail walking on launch day.

“Mount Gambier, because it’s the most stunning location, around the rim of a crater lake located in a dormant volcano. And when they say blue, they mean the bluest blue you ever saw.

“Merimbula, because part of the course is run on the most amazing boardwalk with no handrails. At high tide it feels like you’re running on water.”

What parkrun means to Sam

“I didn’t call myself a runner until I found parkrun. I didn’t know there were whole communities of people who would make me feel welcome and confident as a runner.

“But the thing I value the most about parkrun is that I get the chance to show other people that same welcome when I volunteer.

“The wonderful thing about parkrun is that it truly is for everyone. Walk or run, on your own or with your friends, pushing a pram or walking your dog – parkrun is for you. All of you.”

On Sam’s parkrun bucket list are The Beaches, NSW, Nambour to meet Fluffy and Beach Strip in Canada.

“It’s 40 minutes drive from my son’s house in Niagara Falls, USA, and if I’m running it that will mean I’ve hugged my son, Julian, for the first time since March 2019 and it will also mean I’ve met my three grandkids, Sofia (7), Julian Junior (JJ) (16m) and Apollo (5m) and my beautiful daughter in law, Shannon.”


Alphanotties – Making a Challenge of (not)parkrun

While in locked down Victoria Bruce Purdie found another way to keep on parkrunning around Australia and achieve a running challenge.

Every (not)parkrun he and fellow parkrun adventurer Nadine Crawford have visited a parkrun starting with each letter of the alphabet.

Of course they’re not visiting for real, and not together either as the pair live three hours apart.

Instead it’s by changing their home parkrun so as to appear in that event’s (not)parkrun results.

Bruce and Nadine logged (not)parkruns with Zillmere on October 13. On Saturday, October 30, the pair again “attended” Zillmere parkrun in Brisbane, along with several other adventurers they rounded up along the way.

The challenge

The pair are both parkrun event ambassadors and it was during lockdown in September that Bruce says Nadine was after a challenge.

They were already doing Streaky September – a parkrun Adventurers challenge to run or walk 2km a day.

“Your challenge could be multiple (not)parkruns this week. How about alphabetically?” Bruce offered.

“I spoke with Mel Ellis the following day who scratched her head for a bit, then, realising the potential for a nottie catch up in Zillmere, jumped on board with gusto.

“Nadine and I have been totally amazed at how many other have joined in and their logics for choosing the letters.

“I guess if you asked me how I feel about the seed of our idea growing and inspiring others it would be pride.

“Proud to see so many who have had a real tough 18 months getting out each day with real purpose. Pride also that we are all happier and healthier.”

Choosing courses

Bruce says he chooses his parkruns from places he would like to visit for a real life parkrun or “if the course makes me smile”.

“I think it’s a real pity that our barcodes are linked to our countries because that limits any international Adventurers from visiting Zillmere for a nottie on the 30th.

“To that end though I have emailed UK HQ and asked if notties could become international. We could then all become Global Tourists.”

Bruce’s background

Bruce has been a parkrun adventurer from his very first parkrun, having discovered the free, weekly, timed 5km while on holiday in Perth.

His first event was at Claisebrook Cove in 2014. He says he was looking for a fun run while on holiday and from there he was hooked.

“I met other parkrunners from all over the world and my passion was started.”

Bruce notched up his 200th parkrun just before lockdown.

He’s run 76 of Victoria’s 95 events, as well as completed his parkrun alphabet and is a member of the Peel Club – he also made up his own version while (not)parkrunning.

“I’m just happy to slowly tick off my state however long it takes.”

He says he’s had many early morning starts on the day, “though there have been many flights, train rides and car travel earlier in the week”.

Mystery adventure

One of his wildest trips was not knowing which parkrun he would travel to until arriving at his destination.

“Our ultimate parkrun adventure was to book a three day Mystery Getaway which included flights and accommodation in an unknown city.

“Our flights were booked for Friday to coincide with parkrunday. We discovered at the airport that our destination was Brisbane and the location of the motel.

“There were feverish searches using the Tourist Tool and the public transport system however walking 40 minutes to South Bank parkrun was the best option.”

Top three

His top three events are all in Victoria.

“Wallaby Track parkrun has such a range of scenery, nature and urban views. It is like five great parkruns in one.

“Nhill parkrun – when the average age of the volunteers is over 80 it says unique. It also has pretty views and a strong community.

“Then Birdsland Reserve parkrun; it’s pretty and surprising. It’s hidden away in an area that I never would have discovered if it wasn’t for parkrun.”

His parkrun bucket list features Bushy for his pilgrimage, Puarenga parkrun in Rotorua, New Zealand for the geothermal activity, “it sounds unique”, and Coomera, Main Beach, New Farm and Ginnindera to finish off his First 10 Aussie parkrun list.

“I am always amazed at the adventures and opportunities that a simple barcode can provide.”


The story behind parkrun in Gore

When you talk about parentage of parkruns Hamilton Park parkrun in Gore can trace its lineage directly to New Zealand’s second event at Cornwall Park in Auckland.

It was there in 2012 that Bridget McLeod ran her one and only parkrun. She was living and working as a teacher and moved to the South Island town of Gore soon after.

Now, some nine years later Gore gets its own parkrun with Bridget as Event Director.

“I did Cornwall Park parkrun and remember at the time thinking it was such a great initiative,” she said.

“There were no boundaries, no barriers. It stuck with me that it was great. Then we moved to Gore. I’m from the south; I grew up in the Catlins.

“The fact that Balclutha had a parkrun is what got me started. I thought if they could do it we could do it a little bit better!

At one of the test events. Photo supplied

Jewel in the crown

“I thought it would be great to have parkrun in Gore, we’ve got great parks and we’ve a great community.

“It’s a beautiful town with amazing things here. I thought parkrun would be another jewel in our crown.”

Bridget started the process in 2019 when New Zealand had its own country managers. She said she was pretty close to the launch when the structure changed and had to start the process again.

“I spent the summer trying to find a 5km course that started and finished in the same place. At that time I had a dog, a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old and a pregnant belly. I finally got a course, and then it flooded and my course was taken out.”

That was in February 2020. Then the pandemic hit and Bridget gave birth to Amelia at home in lockdown.

Waiting game

“parkrun was on hold to everyone but I couldn’t get down to Hamilton Park to see where it was at. When I eventually got there you couldn’t even access the park. It was annihilated.

“I had two other courses rejected as they didn’t meet the road requirements and we couldn’t get anything else to work so then it was a waiting game, waiting for the park to be fixed.

“There were lots of suggestions for other places but I wanted a course I would be proud of. My husband Mike is the athlete in the family. He went for a run one day and said Hamilton Park was open and it was awesome and this should be our course. We shot down there and we got the course really easily.

“It’s simple, intuitive and way easier than the first course.”

Getting started

She said things came together pretty quickly from there.

Invercargill parkrun Event Director Liz Henry donated a defibrillator through her business Mee & Henry Law Ltd and there have been two test events with 25 and 35 participants respectively.

Both events had visitors from neighbouring parkruns in Balclutha, Dunedin, Invercargill and Queenstown.

Bridget said their attendance helped locals understand more what parkrun was about, including earning milestones.

“It was neat to show the bigger picture of parkrun and how it can help you. You can meet locals and make all these connections.”

Hamilton Park parkrun is due to launch on October 23.


On Every Saturday – new parkrun book

It started out as a university assignment and was never meant to become real.

Thankfully for parkrunners David Crook’s marketing project has made it into print.On Every Saturday is published next month.

It celebrates Australia’s first 10 parkrun years and outlines parkrun’s history as well as featuring some of the country’s events.

David is studying for a Masters of Arts degree in Creative Writing at University of Technology Sydney.

“We had a unit called Book Publishing and Marketing,” David says.

There were three assignments: write a pitch for a book; cover design brief and a marketing plan.

“The assignment wasn’t about a book, it was about these plans but to do it as thoroughly as possible as soon as I had the idea I contacted Tim Oberg, predominantly to get some stats from him.

“But talking about it started to feel like it was actually something good to do as a book and not just an assignment.”

This was in August last year. 

Discovering parkrun

Since then David has fleshed out a book that sounds like it’s going to be a hit with everyone who has run a parkrun in Australia.

David ran his first parkrun at Evesham in the UK while visiting friends in June 2018. Since then he’s run 28 at the time of writing, mostly at North Sydney.

He’s been a runner since around 2010 when he trained towards a half marathon. He ran a marathon in 2011, which turned out to be the first of many. 

David was an Australian diplomat working in trade and industry. He lived in the UK for a time and it was while with friends he experienced his first parkrun.

He said he immediately loved it.

“Every marathon start line is the same with all the excitement, anticipation and apprehension. There’s none of that at parkrun.

“Everything about parkrun is good, even North Sydney where we’ve a hill we have to tackle!”

About the book

The book features a chapter on parkruns overseas (and a section in New Zealand) but it’s predominantly about Australia’s first 10 years.

As a relative newcomer to parkrun it’s been an opportunity to learn more about the subculture of parkrun, including the world of tourism and challenges.

As well as Oberg he also spoke with Debra Bourne, the author of the first book about parkrun.

“She had done a history and that was the important thing for her. I wanted to communicate what parkrun was.”

He said there were three audiences he wrote for: parkrunners who wanted to feel good about parkrun and learn something that could lead to them getting more involved; the people involved with their local parkrun and people who didn’t know anything about parkrun.

“I thought this book might help them think maybe they should get involved.”


The book features parkruns from all across Australia and David says he hopes people think he’s got a good representation of what parkruns are out there.

Each state and territory is represented, starting with the first to launch in each. Then I looked at the alphabet and the only Z, there are some in the outback. 

“I wanted to surprise people with places they wouldn’t have thought of.

“I’m looking forward to people reading it but I’m nervous yet anticipating their feedback.”

He says he enrolled in his Masters not because he wanted to write about parkrun, though it’s a project that has given him a lot of joy.

“I’m not trying to become a person who writes books like this; I’m trying to become a person who writes novels but for the last eight months I’ve not been able to do that!

“It’s been a great project; I’ve got to meet and talk to so many great people.”

You can pre-order On Every Saturday from Booktopia. It’s published on November 9.


Harry Hoverdog

It all started when New South Wales parkrunner Jill McClintock took a photo of her toy cavoodle (toy poodle x King Charles cavalier) Harry appearing to hover.

Since then the barkrunner has won over hordes of fans eager to watch him jump through the selfie frames at parkruns.

He got so well known that people would ask Jill if he had an Instagram account – so she created one.

Harry is 11, described by Jill as “super friendly and very smart”.

She started to train him when he was 18 months old and runs on her left and can follow directional commands.

“This is very helpful when you want to turn a corner or overtake someone as I can direct him which way to go and prevents the likelihood of tripping,” Jill says.

“We always try to run to the left at parkrun and then with him to my left, he does not get in anyone else’s way.

“He has a full repertoire of tricks and one of his favourite at parkrun is to jump through the parkrun sign.”

Finding parkrun

Jill only learned of parkrun in 2019 from Running Mums Australia on facebook.

“I was coming back from a knee reconstruction and thought it might provide me with some motivation.

“It also got me out the door to give Harryhoverdog a good run.

“I fell in love with parkrun at my first run in December 2019. Of the 92 weeks (yes, I counted them up) since, I have only run 27 weeks. This is due to covid and the subsequent lockdowns.

“I cannot wait for lockdown to end so we can all get together and safely enjoy our parkruns once again.”

Jill lives in Roseville in the upper north shore of Sydney. Her first parkrun was at Willoughby and since then she’s run at 16 New South Wales events in all plus one in Queensland.

“My first tourist run was my second ever parkrun at Harris Avenue. We travelled to Queensland for Christmas and stayed with family at Narangba. It was a nice 1km warm up walk to this parkrun.”


“I joined the Aussie parkrun tourism (unofficial) facebook group where I found out about all the challenges.

“I was already enjoying visiting new parkruns, but this added some fun and inspired me to start working on my challenges.

“I’m not really an early bird so I do like the 8am start times, especially in winter. My earliest start however, was probably to Kamay, leaving Roseville at 5.45am for a 7am start.

“I hadn’t been there before and it got me my “K” for the alphabet challenge.

“My longest drive to parkrun was an hour to Penrith Lakes. I was invited by some ladies I met from Penrith at the Mother’s Day Classic at Western Sydney Parklands when they recognised my dog from his social media posts.

“I think it may have been Harry who was invited and I was just his driver!

“The best thing about my parkrun travels is reconnecting with fellow runners as I ‘bump’ into them at different locations.”


“Having Harryhoverdog running by my side is fun and I’ve had people from as far away as Cairns recognise him and want have their photo taken with him.

“Harry has done every parkrun with me except at The Entrance, when we were away on holiday.

“People often come up to me at parkrun and ask, “is that Harryhoverdog?”

“They are very happy to meet him and make a big fuss of him. He also gets recognised at trail races and other dog friendly running events.

“The best was at the Mother’s Day Classic at Western Sydney Parklands.

“We were standing at the registration table when I heard, “Hello! Hello! Excuse me! Is that Harryhoverdog?”

“It was wonderful to meet some ladies from Penrith and we have caught up numerous times since at different parkruns.”

“His last post on social media was after I broke my fibula trail running in the Blue Mountains in June. It’s been a long road to recovery. I’m up to 5km walking now and hope to be back to running soon.”

Jill wanted readers to understand that Harry runs on a leash but hover photos happen off leash before or after the event.

This story was originally published in Issue 7 of Runs With a Barcode magazine.


Vicky Brewin: Social Media Ambassador

This story originally appeared in Issue 6 of the Runs With a Barcode magazine.

Vicky Brewin thought her sister was mad for going for a run on Christmas Day.

But that was before she discovered parkrun for herself.

These days Vicky is a social media ambassador for parkrun – she helps look after the Instagram account – and a keen parkrun tourist.

Her first taste of parkrun tourism was to Mile End parkrun in London.

“I’d gone away for the weekend and couldn’t miss going to parkrun, obviously!

“I may have picked a hotel that was near one too!!

“In 2017 I made it my New Year’s Resolution to be a tourist and do a different parkrun each week! It was mainly because I wanted my Cow Cowell [an unofficial necktube worn by parkrunners who have run at least 20 different UK parkruns].

“Being in the Midlands it was easy enough to get to many parkruns within an hour’s drive.”

Running in Tauranga

parkrun travels

Vicky worked for New Zealand company Gallagher at their UK and Europe office.

That work led to business trips in New Zealand and the opportunity to run parkruns down under.

“Then I asked if I could work here and they said yes.

“The earliest I’ve set off for a parkrun was a Thursday night! Flying back from New Zealand so I get back in time to do parkrun on the Saturday morning.

“The furthest I’ve travelled was to Zillmere in Brisbane to get my Z for the alphabet challenge.

“I was travelling to New Zealand for work from the UK and I was thinking where should I stop on the way.

“On a previous trip I had stopped in Singapore to get my East at East Coast parkrun but I knew a Z was a bit harder to find than the compass.

“I discovered Zillmere in Brisbane so off I went. I landed at 6am on the Friday and headed off on the train to Zillmere – which is nowhere near the centre of Brisbane and was very much a suburb of the city.

“I did a recce of the place on the Friday just to make sure I knew where I had to go from the hotel.

“I never get much sleep before tourism because of the worry I have of not waking up at the right time (especially when they start earlier than at home!).

“I jogged over to the start and got a quick pic with the Zillmere street sign and was sweating in the humidity before I even got there!

There was a small group of runners and the mosquitoes loved the British blood! Afterwards I jogged back to the hotel and it started to rain but I jumped in the pool to cool off!

“Perfect end to some tourism.”


Vicky says a highlight of parkrun is meeting “great people”.

“I also love the fact that parkrun takes you to places you would never normally go.

“I was at Glastonbury Festival and a new parkrun had set up nearby (Shepton Mallet). There was a Glasto running Facebook page and so I put a message out to say I was going to be at the taxi rank at 8am and if anyone wanted to share a taxi meet me there.

At Glastonbury

“I hardly slept that night hoping I wouldn’t sleep through my alarm (that’s happened a lot on parkrun tourism).

“I didn’t quite realise how long the walk to the taxi rank would be! I met two guys there and off we went!

“A couple had run over too. It felt like breaking out of prison – was such a weird feeling.

“The parkrun team there were awesome and had a Glasto theme dressed as hippies! One of the guys I met up with had forgotten his running shoes but wanted to do it anyway so did in his boots.”

One of the local parkrunners got chatting to us and offered to take us back to the festival. It was such an awesome morning.”

Top 3

She says that visiting London the parkruns there can make you feel like you’re in the countryside.

“I’ve done 86 different parkruns and I’m trying to remember which I liked the best ha!

“They all have different things such as the people there, the people you go with, the event they may have on, the course and the café.

“Bushy parkrun – because it’s a challenge obviously! But also because it’s the place it was born, it’s a beautiful park with deer and a lovely cafe plus it’s incredible to see so many people and how the core team deal with it.

“In New Zealand it is East End as it’s a great course which goes over a cool bridge with a fantastic view of Mount Taranaki.

“Plus the obligatory post parkrun plunge!

“The third is difficult, maybe Queen Elizabeth parkrun in England. It’s muddy, it’s hilly and it’s a Q! Need I say more?”

If you enjoyed this then you may be interested in the monthly Runs With A Barcode magazine. Click here for more details.


My path to Countryman Club

Or how I travelled around New Zealand 5km at a time.

A few years ago, while living in the UK and preparing to return to New Zealand, I thought it would be awesome to run all the parkruns in the country.

That was December 2017. On August 7 I became the 20th person to have run all 34 of the current New Zealand parkruns.

It’s been a journey.

In this blog I’m going to share the whys and hows as well as some of the things I learned along the way.

At the bottom of the South Island, January 2021


In January 2016 I ran my first parkrun at Barry Curtis parkrun with my friend Carin and Jim and their children Freya and Jake.

After running at Barry Curtis I decided I would be the one to bring parkrun to Rotorua and on June 25th, 2016 we launched.

Two weeks later I was on a plane to the UK as my dad had died. I ran my second and third parkruns at Stratford-upon-Avon.

On returning from that trip my husband and I decided we would spend a year in the UK where I got bitten by the parkrun tourism bug.

As we planned our return I decided it would be a cool challenge to run all the events in New Zealand. By then I was on three, having run at Cornwall Park and Puarenga before we left.

At this stage there were 18 parkruns in New Zealand. I thought running the other 15 would be challenging, but not out of reach. How I can look back and laugh now.

In 2018 nine new events started, taking parkrun New Zealand to 27. The growth slowed over the following years and we now we have 34.


I got off to a good start. We arrived back in Auckland on New Year’s Eve 2017 and on New Year’s Day I went to Western Springs parkrun. Looking back now I wish we had done the double as it would have saved a trip!


In 2018 I ran mostly at Puarenga. I didn’t have a steady income and air travel was prohibitive, especially when also needing to book accommodation.

I visited Taupo on Ironman day (watched the swim start first) and Hamilton Lake that same month. At this run I ran with British legend Dave Moorcroft.

With Dave and Linda Moorcroft at Hamilton Lake parkrun

On April 28 I ran at the Tauranga parkrun inaugural and in September I visited Whangarei – I was staying in Warkworth and decided that a 100km drive was acceptable.

In October I visited Cambridge NZ parkrun. I’d been at an event in Auckland on the Friday and decided to set off early Saturday morning and take in a parkrun en-route and get home at a semi-reasonable hour.

End of 2018: 9 events out of 27.

New runs: Invercargill, Wanaka, Tauranga, Balclutha, Gisborne, Queenstown, East End, Foster, Greytown Woodside Trail.


In 2019 I took part in a four-month business development programme where I could get reimbursed for travel.

With my friend Michelle at Hagley parkrun

Through this I managed to run at Millwater, Hagley, Palmerston North, Lower Hutt and the newly launched Hobsonville Point (I went to event 2).

At a foggy Hobsonville Point

In 2019 I also ran at Flaxmere on event 3. I’d learned of the Wilson Index earlier in 2019 so I was trying to fill some of the early gaps.

I travelled back to the UK for Christmas and New Year and managed to run at seven new events.

End of 2019: 15 events out of 29
New runs: Hobsonville Point, Flaxmere


Between arriving back in mid-January and parkrun going on pause in March 2020, I ran at Gisborne parkrun on Leap Day and Anderson parkrun the week after.

I had the idea to write my book in early January so was even more keen to get to all events, but I still had 12 to go and most of those were on the South Island.

I consider myself a Covid success story. At the end of 2019 I decided to study to become a high school teacher.

However my university couldn’t provide me with the necessary paperwork to prove what I had studied and so I was unable to go down that path.

At the same time I was contacted to see if I would be available for communications contracting. I said yes and started work as a contractor for Lakes DHB in March.

I’ll be honest and say my income prior to that was enough to live on but didn’t extend to luxuries such as weekends away purely to run parkrun.

The overnight trips I had been on prior mostly consisted of sleeping in spare rooms, or, if the family came along, the cheapest motel rooms.

The unpause

So by the time parkruns came back I had booked a number of flights for trips to the South Island. Air New Zealand were offering free cancellations and credits so you could book flights without fear of losing your money.

In July I visited East End parkrun in New Plymouth. I took along my husband and son and we made a weekend of it.

We found a reasonably priced hotel at $99 a night, it had a fridge and toaster (no microwave) and a swimming pool.

In August I flew to Wellington and stayed with Paul and Julia Gordon and celebrated my 50th different event at Greytown Woodside Trail parkrun.

WithJulia at Greytown Woodside Trail parkrun

Then we had another pause and I had to wait until the restart before I could visit Whanganui Riverbank parkrun. I drove down and stayed one night. I would like to return as a family and explore more.

In October I visited Owairaka parkrun for its inaugural, and in November University of Waikato started, so I went there too. I was keeping up with the new events but not catching up on the older ones.

In December I made two trips to the South Island and ran at Queenstown parkrun and Foster parkrun. The Foster trip was with my son. We hired a car and went searching for the Pop-Up Penguins.

Queenstown parkrun

End of 2020: 24/32

New runs: Whanganui Riverbank, Owairaka, University of Waikato


For New Year I’d got a leave pass to visit the South Island for four days. This meant I could squeeze in Balclutha parkrun on New Year’s Day and Invercargill parkrun on January 2.

To try to save myself some money I’d booked myself a room at a backpackers. As soon as I arrived I knew I’d made a mistake.

I stayed the one night but in the meantime made a booking for the Ibis for the rest of the trip.

The Ibis was luxury in comparison – my own bathroom, a comfortable bed and a TV made the wet weekend a lot more bearable!

A week later I was back on the South Island, this time with my son.

With Robyn Richards at Blenheim parkrun.

We flew into Christchurch, hired a car and headed for Blenheim parkrun via Kaikoura. It was cheaper to do this than to fly Rotorua to Blenheim.

In March I ran at Porirua parkrun, the day before the Longest Day bus trip.

I would have also run at Trentham Memorial earlier in March but for the one week pause, I had to cancel that flight and rebook using my credit.

Getting Closer

In April I drove Axel and myself down to Otaki where we stayed with the O’Sullivans and joined them at Kapiti Coast parkrun. It was a long drive but an opportunity to see the changing landscape.

In May I flew back to the South Island for visits to Pegasus parkrun near Christchurch (stayed with a friend) and Wanaka (hired a car and stayed at the Edgewater Resort).

Pegasus parkrun

July was bookended by travel. On July 3 I finally got to Trentham Memorial, staying with Stu and Heather Leslie and enjoying their hospitality.

I’d booked the flights before Sherwood Reserve announced their start date, otherwise I probably would have run there.

At the end of July I was in Dunedin to run my final South island run of the current events.

And so to August and Sherwood Reserve. I drove up on the Friday afternoon and stayed with my parkrun friend Claire.

August 7: 34/34

New runs: Trentham Memorial, Sherwood Reserve

Travel Tips

Book motels with free cancellation, just in case plans change (hello Covid!)

Book car hire as soon as you book your flights so you have a greater selection. I mostly used RAD Car Hire and would recommend them.

I use Booking.com and because I’ve used them several times I qualify for more discounts. They also do free cancellation.

Tell people your plans; you may end up with a host, or at the very least suggestions of where to stay and what to do.

Be prepared to have your plans change. Flights get delayed, traffic holds us up, and as we’ve seen these past 18 months, parkruns get cancelled at short notice.

Know where you’re going. If you have time, scout the parkrun location the night before so you know exactly where to go.

Don’t forget your barcode. Make sure you have one in carry-on luggage and an extra for in your wallet.

Cue up podcasts for long drives and plan where to refuel/stretch your legs. Give yourself extra time for unscheduled stops to take photos or explore.

And finally, soak up the landscape, New Zealand is a stunning country with so many different features.

Elevated seabed at Kaikoura

Janet Reid: From South Africa to South Australia

Knowing there was a parkrun in her new city helped Janet Reid acclimatise to life in Australia.

But it was when a parkrun started in her neighbourhood, a year later, that she and her husband finally felt at home.

“In 2014 we moved to Adelaide, South Australia, from Cape Town, South Africa.

“Exactly one year to the day of our arrival, Lochiel parkrun launched. This became not only our home parkrun but the place where we found our new family.

“We can be found there most Saturdays and regularly volunteer. I am the ED there as well as a South Australian Event Ambassador.

“Almost six years later, our friendship circle stems back to Lochiel. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for Lochiel parkrun, we would never have settled as well as we have here .

“We are now proud Australian citizens and look forward to all the parkrun adventures that lie ahead.”

Janet is event ambassador (EA) for Kangaroo Island, Meningie, Moana and The Avenues parkruns.

She became an EA in March this year.

“So I’m a relative newbie. I was encouraged to apply by fellow EA’s Alicia Hopper and Kate Corner.

“I see an EA as the link between individual parkruns and HQ.

“My role is to support and encourage the ED’s – especially during the tough times.

“I recently had the thrill of assisting with the launch of The Avenues parkrun situated in the Kuipto Forest.

“It is South Australia’s first and only 5km loop parkrun. “It’s a trail run on a wide fire track, winding through a pine plantation, indigenous gum forest and the most spectacular stringy bark gum forest.

“They draw small numbers and have a bonfire as their trademark – very welcome on cold, foggy mornings!”

Getting started

Janet has run more than 230 parkruns at 26 events.

Her first was at Root 44 parkrun in Stellenbosch, South Africa on August 10, 2013.

“I was participating in a group fitness challenge and doing a parkrun was part of that challenge.

“My first parkrun tourism was from Cape Town, South Africa, to Torrens parkrun, Adelaide, South Australia.

“We had flown over to Australia (Gosh! Imagine that – flying internationally!!) to visit our daughter Hayley who was living here.

“When I discovered the parkrun Challenges Chrome Extension, the bug bit. Then the 5k App came along and the bug bit deeper.

“Then I started chatting to fellow tourists via various Facebook pages. I was hooked!


“My early starts are definitely not as spectacular as some tourists, but my earliest was a 5.30am rise to be on the road by 6am for an hour’s drive to go Kuipto Forest, South Australia.

“My furthest was from Adelaide to Port Lincoln – 7hrs 15mins or 650km.

“We were ticking off another SA parkrun, while exploring our beautiful state at the same time.

“Whenever I think of Port Lincoln parkrun, I think of oysters from Coffin Bay, a little further down the road.

“This year, I was able to participate in PALM 21 ( parkrun adventurers listeners meetup) up in Queensland. We did Nambour parkrun and met the infamous Fluffy, the resident emu!

“Probably the biggest highlight though, is the wonderful people I have met along the way, each one enriching my parkrun life.

“Whilst it’s wonderful being a Passionista and supporting your home parkrun, it’s such fun getting out and exploring other parkruns.

“Thanks to the tried and tested parkrun format, you know what to expect before during and after. It’s a way to meet new friends, participate in the fun challenges, enjoy a coffee and parkfaff.

“Oh yes, you also get to see more of our beautiful country!”

Top 3

Janet’s top three parkruns have an international flavour to them.

“Root 44 in South Africa. It’s a trail run through vineyards with breathtaking scenery.

“Thetford parkrun, UK. It’s flat and fast taking in a river, bridges, swans, lovely scenery and the ruins of an old abbey.

“Brandon Country Park parkrun, UK. A stunning double loop through magnificent parklands and forest with a magnificent stately home at the top of the hill and a beautiful pond.

“On my bucket list is Puarenga parkrun in New Zealand – the smelly one! I’ve heard so much about it that I simply HAVE to go there.

“Shellharbour parkrun because it gets mentioned every week on the parkrun Adventurers podcast by the one and only Oliver Spake, plus it looks very pretty.

“And any parkrun in beautiful Tasmania.”

This story featured in Issue 5 of the Runs With A Barcode magazine. Available now from here.

Use discount code LGJUM4NGND to get 25% off all purchases.


Serial Volunteer Tracey Wood

If you want to know about a volunteering role then Tracey Wood is the parkrunner to talk to.

Known as Tracey in a Tutu, this parkrunner is one of an exclusive group of parkrunners to have volunteered in every available role.

In 2019 she became the first in Australia to do this and only the fifth worldwide.

She’s also on instagram as See You On The V Side, where she shares pics from volunteering and breaks down any myths parkrunners may have about certain roles.

Tracey recently celebrated her 300th parkrun and has more than 186 volunteer credits to her barcode history (at time of writing).

“I love to volunteer – that way I get to see so much more of people.

“Run Director is the best job because there’s not much to do on the day apart from the briefing and saying Go!

“Then you get to wander around, ostensibly to check on everyone but really just to chat!”

The Challenge

Tracey said she never intended to complete every volunteer role but when she completed another new one she realised she was already close.

“I realised that there were only about six left that I hadn’t done (of the 27 distinct volunteer roles) and I thought, hey! I could do this!

“Although this is not a recognised challenge it was a fun way for me to see the different ways I could give back to parkrun.

“The hardest job would have to have been the sign language support role.

“Although I’d received the event briefing and had practised accordingly, the RD added a bit more in and I couldn’t keep up! Thankfully my deaf friends were very forgiving.”

Tracey’s first run was at Sandgate parkrun in 2013.

“A friend told me about this “new thing just started up” and I thought “nahhhhhh” but it didn’t go away so I thought I might give it a go. And, well, here I am now!”

Running at home

Her home parkrun now is Kedron parkrun in north Brisbane.

“Although Kedron Brook is my local area where I regularly walk my dog, I never get tired of heading down to that park.

“It’s a beautiful area and I love turning up on Saturdays and seeing familiar faces.

“I also like to compete in running events, but I love the familiarity of parkrun.

“The fact that you can turn up anywhere and still feel like home. To me, it’s like having a second family that welcomes you in.

“In 2020 I set myself a heap of parkrun-related goals – I was going to finish the alphabet, the Peel Club etc etc.

“Well, we all know how that year turned out! So now I’ve just gone back to my original plan – keep turning up and keep enjoying the experience!

“I have met some absolutely wonderful people through parkrun who have become such a part of my life.

“I love the fact that people from such diverse areas can be united in a “common goal.”

This story featured in Issue 5 of the Runs With A Barcode magazine. Available now from here.

Use discount code LGJUM4NGND to get 25% off all purchases.

Volunteer roles:

Equipment Storage and Delivery 

Communications Person 

Volunteer Co-ordinator 

Event Day Course Check 

Pre-event Setup 

Car Park Marshal 

First Timers Briefing

Warm Up Leader 

Sign Language Support 


Tail Walker 

Run Director 

Lead Bike


Guide Runner 



Funnel Manager 

Finish Tokens & Support 

Barcode Scanning 

Number Checker

Post-event Close Down 

Results Processor 

Token Sorting 

Run Report Writer



The Wirral Tourist: David Brockway

Most days this winter you can probably find David Brockway on the skifields of Queenstown’s Coronet Peak.

But this British lift operator is aiming to spend his Saturday mornings getting his barcode scanned rather than being on the snow.

David has been in New Zealand since September 2019. It was having a couple of uncles living here that enticed him to the other side of the world.

“My parents would always tell me if you go you’ll have a great time, so when I finally did arrive I realised it’s an awesome place to be with lots to do!”

Of course, David brought his barcode and has been slowly getting around the different New Zealand parkrun events.

“Most of my friends have been pretty jealous that I’ve been able to parkrun”

At the time of publication David is on 29 different New Zealand parkrun events out of 115 in all. He’s run 199 times since his first parkrun in 2014.

David (centre in black) at Whangarei.

He says that first run, on March 1, likely came about through his parents, who are orienteers.

“They would regularly attend events in Delamere Forest. In January 2014 they went to their first parkrun in Delamere and two months later I joined them for my first event.

“I was already a keen runner. My first tourism experience was the next weekend when I travelled up to Leeds to see my brother and ran in his local Woodhouse Moor parkrun.

“ That’s a great event, being in the heart of the city, and so has big numbers turning out each Saturday morning.

The start of tourism

“I didn’t really consider myself as a tourist until I was doing Ormskirk parkrun [his seventh event] and in the run report I was labelled the North West Serial Tourist.

“A majority of my runs up till that point had been in the North West of England.

“Since then I went on to complete the Cowell Club [his 100th was at Balclutha on March 14 2020, the last parkrun before the pause] plus many more challenges. I would have done them much sooner had it not been for shift work.

David (black singlet, no hat) at Western Springs

“Every time I was off on a Saturday I would be somewhere for parkrun.”
David’s earliest start was around 6am, with his parents they travelled from the Wirral to Fountains Abbey parkrun in North Yorkshire.

“I think it was my Dad’s idea and mum went along with it as it meant visiting a National Trust site.”


The furthest travelled, not counting his trip from the UK to New Zealand, was for a New Year’s Day double.

“We travelled from home for roughly two hours to Kingsbury Water parkrun, followed by a short drive to Sutton parkrun. This trip meant we could incorporate two first time runs at these new locations, which we might not have done otherwise.

“Before arriving in New Zealand I was over in the United States for summer camp. Afterwards I travelled city to city to end up in Las Vegas where I met my Dad and from there we went on a road trip through five of the US’s National Parks.

“At the end of our trip we headed to San Francisco with enough time to fit in Crissy Field parkrun. There you would never guess, but we met people over from UK road tripping and completing parkruns as they go.”

Top 3

With a high proportion of touring in his parkrun history David has a number of parkruns he could pick to recommend to others. But he’s chosen two close to home and one in New Zealand.

“Delamere parkrun, it’s where my parkrun journey started.

“It’s a great course run in the forest on a well formed path that takes you out to the lake then around and back to the finish.

“For the most part of the run you are able to see out on the lake so if you aren’t pushing yourself hard at the front and you’re able to take in your surroundings, you will really appreciate the beauty to which this location provides.

“Wepre parkrun is one of the toughest parkrun courses I’ve run in the UK.

“It provides a sharp climb from the off, which is repeated on the small loop. Then it’s onto the more steady longer climbs on the two larger loops.

“In all it’s a pretty brutal run on the legs if you haven’t put that hill training in but you do have that feeling of accomplishment when you cross that finish line in a new personal best time.

“Dunedin parkrun, I can guarantee no new parkrun here will beat the difficulty to which this location has.

“Starting on the flat two laps you’re put into a false sense of security as to what follows is far from easy as you head up the hill not only once but twice.

“So no matter your time just be positive that you completed the course.”

Tourism tip

Like many parkrunners, top of his bucket list of events is the home of parkrun, Bushy.

“It would be great to tick that one off, I hope I get to attend sometime in the future.”

David’s top tip for tourism is to arrive with plenty of time.

“I’d highly recommend getting to the parkrun the day/night before. Mainly for a hopeful good night’s sleep, and if able to check out the course do so.

“I usually cycle the route as it’s quick to do. Then for sure after the run/walk/volunteer go to the cafe to meet the locals and find out their stories.”

This story featured in Issue 5 of the Runs With A Barcode magazine. Available now from here. Use discount code LGJUM4NGND to get 25% off all purchases.

David’s parkrun adventures:

Hagley parkrun
Birkenhead parkrun
Ellesmere Port parkrun
Delamere parkrun
Queenstown parkrun
Wanaka parkrun
Hobsonville Point parkrun
Western Springs parkrun
Princes parkrun, Liverpool
Cornwall parkrun
Chester parkrun
Wepre parkrun
Barry Curtis parkrun
Warrington parkrun
Woodhouse Moor parkrun
Invercargill parkrun
Millwater parkrun
Whangarei parkrun
Widnes parkrun
St Helens parkrun
Haigh Woodland parkrun
Burnage parkrun
Pennington Flash parkrun
Ormskirk parkrun
Erddig parkrun
Crosby parkrun
Croxteth Hall parkrun
Hanley parkrun
Kapiti Coast parkrun
Northwich parkrun
Bolton parkrun
Walsall Arboretum parkrun
Pendle parkrun
Congleton parkrun
Fountains Abbey parkrun
Sale Water parkrun
Markeaton parkrun
Puarenga parkrun
Owairaka parkrun
Brighouse parkrun
Skipton parkrun 1
Chadderton Hall parkrun
Newtown parkrun
Porirua parkrun 1
Hyde parkrun
Hillsborough parkrun
Stretford parkrun
Isabel Trail parkrun
Telford parkrun 1
Witton parkrun 1
Henley Wood parkrun, Oswestry
Hyndburn parkrun
Stamford Park parkrun
Foster parkrun
South Manchester parkrun
Worsley Woods parkrun
Balclutha parkrun
Bedfont Lakes parkrun
Wythenshawe parkrun
Conwy parkrun
The Wammy parkrun
Gisborne parkrun
Lyme Park parkrun
Palmerston North parkrun
Southport parkrun
Tauranga parkrun
Blenheim parkrun
Arrow Valley parkrun
Dunedin parkrun
Anderson parkrun
University of Waikato parkrun
Sheffield Castle parkrun
Centre Vale parkrun
Knowsley parkrun
Rother Valley parkrun
Fletcher Moss parkrun
Oldham parkrun
Bodelwyddan Castle parkrun
Endcliffe parkrun
Wilmslow parkrun
Fleetwood Promenade parkrun
Woodbank parkrun
Lower Hutt parkrun
Crissy Field parkrun
Fort William parkrun
Bramhall parkrun
Conkers parkrun
Penrhyn parkrun
Crewe parkrun
Cheadle Hulme parkrun
Barnsley parkrun
Cambridge NZ parkrun
Longrun Meadow parkrun
Pegasus parkrun
Trentham Memorial parkrun
Rosliston parkrun
Shrewsbury parkrun
Whanganui Riverbank parkrun
Halifax parkrun
Cuerden Valley parkrun
Dolgellau parkrun
Kew Woods parkrun
Phoenix parkrun
Kingsbury Water parkrun
Southwark parkrun
Glossop parkrun
Myrtle parkrun
York parkrun
Wotton parkrun
Gedling parkrun
Sutton Park parkrun
Preston parkrun
Marple parkrun
East End parkrun, New Plymouth
Heaton parkrun


Grant Lincoln: Running fast across New Zealand

This story originally featured in issue 3 of the Runs With A Barcode magazine.

While some parkrunners lament at the upgrade to a new age category, Grant Lincoln sees it as a new challenge.

The 50-year-old Aucklander realised turning 50 meant he could try to claim some new age category records.

His first as a VM50-54 was at Invercargill, where he ran a new PB on the course with an 18:34.

He’s also on a quest to achieve 100 first place finishes. At the time of writing he is on 98, with 80 of these at Barry Curtis parkrun.

Getting started

Grant’s first parkrun was at Cornwall Park on September 13, 2014.

“It was advertised as a local event in the Manukau Courier suburban newspaper. I have always been active and decided it would be a good challenge to see how quickly I could run 5km.

“I enjoyed the weekly challenge of trying to perform to my best and improve as well as meeting up with people, encouraging others and seeing them succeed. I like checking the results to see how people have done and see if I still hold my records.”

Grant in action at East End

At last count Grant holds 11 of New Zealand’s VM50-54 records, plus two remain in the VM45-49 age group (he has the double at Flaxmere and Balclutha).

There are seven events where he’s yet to attempt a crack at the age records (University of Waikato, Taupo, Anderson, Kapiti Coast, Trentham Memorial, Pegasus and Foster).

He says he’s no current plans to try to become a countryman “but that may change in the future”.

“At the moment the main reason for visiting parkruns is to get the age group records, so there are a few on my radar – Hobsonville Point, Western Springs, University of Waikato, Taupo and Blenheim.

“I would also like to return to Flaxmere, the flattest parkrun I have been to, and attempt a super quick time and rise to second on the age graded league.

“It would be good to return to Puarenga again since I haven’t been there since 2016 and it is a unique course.

Favourite events

“Gisborne is my favourite, so obviously I would like to visit Gisborne again. The favouritism I have toward Gisborne probably began even before I went there when I was told it was a fast course.

Grant in the front at Gisborne parkrun

“On my first visit I missed the turn at the railway crossing both times, hence the slow time of 19:01. Of course, I had to return and after not quite getting the times I wanted, I kept going back.

“In my opinion the course is the most beautiful one in New Zealand.

“It is almost totally flat with a few small undulations. There is a great flat, straight sprint to the finish line of about 400 metres.

“The course is predominantly concrete except a section of boardwalk in the final kilometre. I don’t usually notice a lot of the scenery while I run, but at Gisborne it is absolutely unavoidable.

“I really enjoy the beauty going down and back up the riverside (especially when the tide is in) and then along the ocean side. The people are very friendly and welcoming.

“I have been so often it is like a second home parkrun. There is also the added bonus of delicious fish and chips and takeaways from London Street Fish Shop.”

Grant’s goals

While some parkrunners’ tourism-related goals are achieved simply by finishing, Grant’s two both require speed.

His main goals are to achieve 100 first finishes, which is surely only a matter of time (though a lot depends on who else shows up on any given parkrunday).

He also wants to improve on his personal best time, which is 17:51 (achieved at Barry Curtis).

Grant at Queenstown parkrun

Outside of his own performances he also wants to help and encourage others, especially junior parkrunners, to enjoy parkrun and reach their potential.

“I am always very competitive. Back in 2016 I saw that I had a chance of being first to 50 first finishes.

“Gooya Mozdbar just beat me to that mark and Erika Whiteley, a junior from Barry Curtis, was also challenging me to be first to 50.

“I then started looking toward being first to achieve 100 first finishes which was looking promising until mid 2018 when I found it almost impossible to finish first at Barry Curtis due to increased competition.

“Since then most of my firsts have been away from Barry Curtis, so it has been very pleasing to get two at Barry Curtis so far this year. It is only recently that Hannah Oldroyd has appeared on the New Zealand list of first finishes.”

Relaxed running

So what’s Grant’s secret to his fast parkruns, aside from a natural ability?

“Most of my running during the week is done at an easy, relaxed pace and I save my big efforts for parkrun.

“Since taking my training runs much easier, I have found I get out more often, enjoy running more and am more relaxed on Saturdays.

“I have also become more determined and focused as I run at parkrun and the confidence I have gained from improved performances has given me greater belief in my ability to run quicker consistently.

“Running is definitely a mental exercise as well as physical.”

When he’s not chasing age group records Grant can be found at Barry Curtis. He checks the parkrun results and announces milestones for local runners, as well as produces certificates for the juniors who achieve milestones.


Catrina and Barry Crossley: Kiwis on tour

Every day is a Saturday for Catrina and Barry Crossley (A438735 and A309697 respectively).

The New Zealanders are on the road in a motorhome in Australia as “official parkrun tourists”. Every day is Saturday (except when it’s parkrunday of course!).

At the time of writing the duo have run 440 parkruns between them at 85 different events. Not just tourists in New Zealand and Australia, they have also run one in the UK.

While in Australia they are running freedom runs and then logging their official parkruns, a different one each week.

“We find if we really love the course or the area, we will make an effort to get back to run an official parkrun,” says Catrina.  

“Or vice-versa we will use the parkrun as our training runs if we are staying.”

At Marina parkrun in Western Australia
The beginning

Barry found parkrun while training for the 2012 Wellington Half Marathon.

Part of his training took him down Maungaraki onto the riverbank, heading towards Eastbourne. There he saw quite a number of runners heading out to do what he discovered was parkrun.

He spoke to one of the runners and they briefly explained about parkrun and how to join up if he wished.

After his run he looked online and registered immediately and Saturdays were never the same.

It took Catrina a few more months.

“I was NOT a runner, I played hockey and needed to run for fitness, and hated every step,” Catrina says.

“Barry gave up asking me if I wanted to join him for an early start on a Saturday, it was always a definite no. 

“I had had bad experiences running. With having a larger bust, pain in my shoulders, support that would not support, wearing two bras to hold them down (which didn’t always work), shirts that were like tents everywhere except across my chest. Nope, running was not for me!

“Then I had a breast reduction, and my world changed. 

“I was able to run comfortably without pain, had one bra (which worked) and finally the girls were supported! 

“So when I said to Barry ‘ok, I will give this 5km thing a go’, we have basically run parkrun together ever since.”

Barry Crossley at Forster parkrun
First tourist parkrun

The Crossleys first tourism experience was in Auckland at Cornwall Park and was Catrina’s second parkrun.

“Barry had to go Auckland for work, I just tagged along.

“We heard about the different parkrun challenges over our self-imposed mandatory post parkrun breakfast at Lower Hutt.

“We were intrigued, as most are, about how to go about finding them and working out which ones we had achieved.”

She says they were impressed to find that “we, too, were parkrun enthusiasts, but clearly not as much as those who had thought up these challenges”.

“Christmas 2018 and we were holidaying in New Plymouth. As there were no parkruns near us then, we were having a few withdrawal symptoms. 

“Friday night and we were packing up, readying ourselves to return to Wellington from a great few weeks’ break, the following day.

“Another bright idea hit. Why not drive to Palmerston North for parkrun? Reasons to: a) It’s not that far, b) it’s on the way. Reasons not to, we couldn’t think of any. At very much stupid o’clock, I’d thought of one, it is too early!

“It is a three hour drive (at least) so up we got up at 4.30am to make the start line in Palmy, and therein lies the lengths some of us go to, to get to that Saturday morning fix!”

Catrina Crossley at Bunbury parkrun
Overseas running

“One regret was not knowing about the challenges prior to being in England. 

“Barry ran the London marathon in 2015, so while we were there we scoped out the closet parkrun. We could only manage one and went to Gunnersbury. 

“If only we had known about “where it all started” we might have made more of an effort to get to Bushy!”

The pair moved to Sydney when Barry was transferred for work. After a year they bought a motorhome with the idea of completing a lap.

Catrina says parkrun has inspired their travels.

“parkrun has given us a purpose for travelling. We research where we would like to visit, however the very first thing we check is where is the closet parkrun.

“Then we see what other tourist things are around or are near for checking out.  

“We also love mountain biking and hiking so luckily that goes hand in hand with getting our 10,000 steps in a day.

“Since we are currently travelling in the north of WA, there are very few parkruns up there, so when we return to Perth we will clock up a few more different ones.  

“We highly recommend touristing in this way, having the time to do what you want and be where you like is so refreshing.”

Barry Crossley ran his 250th parkrun at Margaret River parkrun
Collecting stories

The pair could probably write a book of their adventures.

They’ve met many parkrunners at breakfast after parkrun.

These people have then shared their experiences and helped shape the Crossleys’ adventures whether it’s been recommending an event or picking them up to get them there.

So which are their favourites?

“Barry would recommend Lower Hutt, the people there are incredibly welcoming and have a real passion for parkrun. There is nothing like running into a howling, freezing southerly to having that very same wind, ‘blow’ you home.

“My favourite was Dolls Point, an out and back along the beach line at Sandringham in Sydney’s south. Great support from volunteers and a lovely view all the way along the path.

“Phillip Island was a favourite for us both, after being there for motorcycle racing, we walked the course, only to return to run it on Saturday. Unusually it is called Phillip Island but it is actually run on Churchill Island.”

At Phillip Island parkrun

One on their bucket list is Kate Reed in Tasmania.

“Kate Reed because the people we met started this parkrun. The inaugural was due to the day of very first lockdown, so they had a huge wait between their soft opening and the actual start day.

“Basically any others that will help us get more challenges.

“We would like to get the Peel challenge, because little did we know we met parkrun royalty at a wee parkrun called Yeldulknie Weir Trail.

“Some guy had on a parkrun shirt that had “Peel” printed on it, I had no idea what it meant, turns out it was Brendan Peel himself.”

“parkrun is great for us as it gives us a purpose to travel, we always check to see whether there is a parkrun near or close to where we are heading. 

“And if there isn’t, whether we can change our plans to get to the 0800h start line.

“We have travelled to parkrun in our 9m motorhome, on our motorbike, by mountain bike. We’ve walked, used public transport, been given rides and used uber.”

Catrina Crossley at Edithburgh parkrun.
Top tips

Here are Catrina and Barry’s tips for travelling this way:

“It is important to be flexible – don’t book too far ahead.

“Take on board people’s recommendations.  

“Trust the apps and websites you use, ie parkrun, wikicamps, (for booking and checking out free camps and campgrounds) fuel map. Also it is important to update these when you can.

“Most of all to quote a famous running gear company “Just Do It”!”


New NZ Countryman Sarah Jantscher

On May 15 Sarah Jantscher (A1048005) completed all parkruns in New Zealand.

Invercargill is about as far away as you can get from Riddlesdown parkrun in the London Borough of Croydon.

For parkrunner Sarah Jantscher the two places are the book-ends in her parkrun tourism journey to date.

Sarah is the newest member of the parkrun New Zealand Countryman club (which Runs With A Barcode is calling Alltearoa).

This means she has run every parkrun event in New Zealand.

She completed this feat on May 15 with a flying visit to Invercargill parkrun.

Her parkrun story began in 2013 but took a while to get going. She’s now on just over 300 parkruns.

“I read about parkrun in a free magazine on the train in London. I registered but didn’t turn up for months.

“Then I found a parkrun very close to the house I moved to and it still took me six months to go there. My first parkrun was at Riddlesdown parkrun on August 2, 2014.

At Riddlesdown parkrun

“My first tourist parkrun was to Roundshaw Downs parkrun on New Years Day 2017.

“I had a car by then and was able to drive between parkruns for the double. At Riddlesdown there were a couple of uber tourists and they talked about going to other parkruns.”

Getting started

Despite that encounter it was only when Sarah moved to New Zealand in 2018 that she decided to tour parkruns.

She’s only run at Riddlesdown and Roundshaw Downs in mainland UK, plus one at Guernsey.

But she must have caught the travelbug now as she’s also run in the US, Australia and Germany. Most recently she travelled to Brisbane to run South Bank.

“I only started my parkrun tourist journey when I moved to New Zealand. I wanted to complete all parkruns here as it would be a nice way to explore the country and a goal for my time here.”

She says she’s not one of those tourists who sets an early alarm to travel.

“I’m not a morning person so I avoid getting up early and travel the night before.”

Her trip to Invercargill from Wellington is the furthest she’s travelled specifically to run a parkrun.

“I found an amazing place for bagels on that trip!!

“I also won a competition with Healthspan, who were a UK parkrun sponsor at the time. It was for a trip to Guernsey to attend parkrun. They even booked me taxis to and from the hotel to parkrun.”

Celebrating 250 parkruns at Western Springs

Two of her top three experiences involve family.

“Staying an extra day in San Francisco to attend Crissy Fields parkrun with my brother – it was totally worth it!

“It had the view of the Golden Gate Bridge and of San Francisco, loads of other tourists for a post-parkrun chat and exchange of stories.

“Alstervorland parkrun in Hamburg, Germany, for personal reasons. My brother lived in Hamburg and the trip there was my mum’s birthday present. The parkrun was just a short walk away from the hotel we stayed at.

“I was running with my brother and my mum was cheering us on.

“My third would be East End parkrun in New Plymouth. It is an amazing course by the ocean, the highlight was Te Rewa Rewa bridge and the option to have a dip in the ocean afterwards – loads of parkrunners went in full running gear!

“There are two parkruns on my bucket list. Mole Valley parkrun because it is in a vineyard. I did a half marathon there and it was beautiful. And Bushy parkrun – don’t need to say why!”


Sarah has a few tips for parkrunners looking to explore other events.

“Check the course map carefully the night before and check for parking– alast minute panic never helps with running.

“I ran around Palmerston North trying to find the start, I was on the other side of the bridge!

“Don’t be shy and strike up a conversation. Commenting on a milestone t-shirt is usually a good way as everyone is proud of wearing one.

“Just go for it – it will be fun and you will learn something new!

“It took me almost 2.5 years for my first tourist trip – and then it was only to do the New Year’s double.”


The Peel Club’s Brendan Peel

This story originally featured in issue 2 of the Runs With A Barcode magazine.

The man behind the Peel Club name talks to us about events that stand out and how the Peel Club came to be, plus his next goals.

Brendan Peel (A206214) is synonymous with parkrun tourism is Australia but it took him almost a year to run his second parkrun.

His first event was in January 2012 at Albert parkrun, Melbourne, which he found out about from R4YL magazine.

At Kate Reed, Tasmania

“I did it once, waited a year for my second and have hardly missed a day since.”

Brendan lives in Fairfield, Victoria, but he pops up at events all over Australia. He holds territorianship for ACT and Northern Territory, plus statesmanship for Tasmania and Victoria. He’s one short for South Australia (Kangaroo Island).

“Prior to parkrun I had hardly travelled at all.

“New events popped up in all sorts of locations and it was such fun going to as many as I could. Before I knew it I had completed six of the eight states and territories.”

Peel Club origin

“A question popped up on the first incarnation of the Australian parkrun podcast. Alan Burrell, aka the Professor, suggested that whoever was the first to run in every state and territory would have the unofficial club named after them.

At Jubilee Way, South Australia

“At this stage my first in every state were: Albert Melbourne, St Peters, Gungahlin, Launceston and Darwin.

“Manjimup in WA was already booked and I had one left. Out of all the Queensland ones I chose Logan River for the final leg for no other reason than two people I had met on my travels. I met Fiona Edmonds at Launceston parkrun and Sarah Logan at Point Cook, Lilydale Lake and Campelltown.

“Sarah picked me up from the airport and I jogged down to parkrun from my motel with a handful of Logan locals. I got a fuss made of me and had a wonderful day.

“The Peel Club was never talked about too much but as more people started doing more and more events it gets mentioned a lot more and is the aim of a reasonable number of people.”

Like many parkrun tourists Brendan says he has visited a vast number of places thanks to parkrun.

Getting into touring

He’s run at 239 locations (correct at date of publication in April 2021) ranging from Nightcliff to Inverloch, Kalgoorlie-Boulder to The Beaches, seeing places he would never have dreamed of otherwise.

“Out of all my different events I would have been to at least 200 locations I’d never contemplated going to. Before parkrun I hadn’t been to Tassie or the NT at all. I had only been to WA and Queensland once.”

Brendan’s first parkrun as a tourist was a trip to Balyang Sanctuary, St Peter’s was his first interstate trip.

He said deciding to go for statesmanship was easy, as when he started there was only Albert and it was easy to keep up.

His earliest start was 1am for a 450km drive to Mount Gambier.

“Many factors determine where and when I go. Cheap flights and in particular budget airline sales are probably at the top of the list.

“I have a few goals that I loosely follow. I would like to maintain my ACT and NT  territorian status which is reasonably achievable.

At Broken Hill Racecourse

“At the moment I am one short (Kangaroo Island) of SA statesmanship and I recently achieved Tassie Statesmanship with a trip to Whitemark Wharf.

“I will do all Victorian events eventually, while picking up some missing Wilson numbers.”

“I love the first 100 Aussie parkruns video so much that I plan to do them all eventually, I have 28 in Queensland and two in New South Wales to go.

“I must admit I love a good parkrun name having recently run Our Park. Town of Seaside was one I really liked the name of but it is no longer.”

Top Three

Brendan’s top three parkruns are: Shellharbour, Mount Clarence and The Beaches.

“My love of Shellharbour began long before I ran there.

“The “first 100 Aussie parkruns” video showed a glimpse of a beautiful grassed area looking out over the beach and beyond. After seeing the 15 second snapshot I just had to visit very soon.

“The drive down from Sydney through the national park was just superb and after arriving being greeted  by Brendan Scollary and his friendly team was like catching up with old friends.

“As most parkruns are on shared, often concrete, paths a course made up of grass, dirt, gravel and a few hundred metres on sand was one to savour.

“I have been lucky enough to run there again at PALM18 and also do my NSW “Ollie Vollie” leg there as well.

“Mount Clarence is a beautiful coastal out and back course in Albany, WA. Starting at Middleton Beach you start climbing a timber boardwalk for nearly a kilometre before another 1.5km of winding undulating paths.

“Throughout the course you have some splendid views across King George Sound as well as running past some significant military statues.

“Turning around you get to do it again with the highlight being a 1km downhill section on the boardwalk and 50 or so metres on Middleton Beach itself.

“Then there is The Beaches. Wow.

“It was my first trip to Newcastle ever and to be able to do a parkrun on the sand between Bar Beach and Merewether was simply the best. A small handful of us did it in Chariots of Fire costume which was such fun. Luckily it was the location for PALM 19 which was amazing too.

“All three have spectacular views and a variety of surfaces.”

“My main message to anyone who wants to tour is just follow your heart. If there is somewhere you want to go and are able to, just go.

“parkrun tourism doesn’t have to be an expensive luxury world tour as there are wonderful places to visit very close to home (unless you live in Weipa or somewhere equally remote). 


Meet parkrun Adventurer Olly Spake

This story originally featured in issue 1 of the Runs With A Barcode magazine.

I noticed on Facebook that a friend and colleague had participated in a run at a location near home I’d always wanted to explore.

Being an occasional runner I thought I’d try it and hopefully kickstart a new health regime.

I looked it up and arrived the very next week at Shellharbour parkrun’s Event #3 and hid in the back and slugged it around a pretty challenging course for me.

Somehow within a month or two I’d made some great friends, tried volunteering and was trying to find new ways each week to ham it up for the photos!

But what really got me started? It was the people – it was impossible to not feel welcome and encouraged, and to want to share in a great experience.

My home parkrun feels like a real home. I’ve grown to love the community I’m a part of and feel a connection with the place and people that have given me so much over the last six and a half years.


Nothing sums up parkrun home for me more than arriving before anyone else at or close to sunrise, to be able to see the light spreading across my favourite vista, to set up the scanning table, grab a coffee and start to say hi to as many of my parkrun family as I possibly can.

parkrun has become a huge part of life for me since my first few events.

Shellharbour’s parkrun community has helped me discover a love of running, volunteering and even hills!

From the first few friendly faces who welcomed and encouraged me, these great people have become like family at times.

They’ve shared coffee chats, celebrated births and achievements of my children, mourned the shared loss of friends and given me a reassuring yet simple moment that is often the highlight of my week.

My main goal is to keep parkrunning! I’d love to help others discover and share what I’ve been fortunate to enjoy for so long already.

Amongst that, I look forward to discovering many more parkrun events and their communities around Australia and beyond.

Results-wise, I long to break a certain time barrier at my home event, but I’m quite probably too ill-disciplined in my training to ever hit that one!


It’s really hard to pick a highlight.

I’ve loved sharing parkrun with my family – my wife, daughters and mum.

I’ve enjoyed a couple of great parkrun adventures together with mum and my eldest daughter Hannah so far, which I can’t imagine having done in any other pastime.

But beyond that, a real highlight was being a part of the Shellharbour parkrun event team hosting the inaugural parkrun adventurers podcast listener meet-up in 2018 (known as Palm).

Having listened to the podcast from almost the start, it was a thrill to meet so many familiar voices and names, and to enjoy an awesome morning, for which much credit is deserved for the inspiration of the meet-up Gary Murphy and our then-Event Director Brendan Scollary (who is central to so much of Shellharbour parkrun’s success).

Future adventures

There are many parkruns I would like to visit, I’m bound to forget some, but here it goes…

Queens Domain and Kingston Park parkruns in Tasmania; I grew up there and I’m heading back for the first time in 20 years this November.

Add to that Southampton parkrun – being the UK home for so many in my family.

Bere Island in Ireland sounds magical, Umhlanga in South Africa would be amazing too. And now I’ll have to add Puarenga in New Zealand to that list too – it sounds fantastic!

I also volunteer at parkrun. While I thoroughly love Run Directing, I love to be on hand as timekeeper to cheer each and every parkrunner across the line.

I’ve also got a big soft spot for volunteer co-ordinating, which I was lucky enough to do for the best part of a couple of years to support the Shellharbour team and encourage others to try out new roles.

You can hear more about Melissa and Olly’s adventures on the parkrun adventures podcast. Follow the facebook page for more information.

Get your free copy of this first issue here.


Meet event ambassador Wendy Watts

When Wendy Watts discovered parkrun a whole new world opened up to her, now she is helping many other events as an ambassador.

Wendy turned up to her local parkrun in Palmerston North at its inaugural event on October 28, 2017.

She was a run/walker and since that day has found herself on the start lines of many other events.

“I first heard about parkrun about a year before it came to Palmerston North from a friend who had done parkrun in Auckland.

“I had no idea what parkrun was about but was very intrigued and excited when I saw on Facebook it was starting up in Palmy.

“I registered and turned up to our first event as a walker/jogger and was immediately hooked, especially seeing and talking to the large number of parkrun tourists wearing their milestone tees.”

Good friendships

“I enjoy our there and back course along the river. It gives everyone a chance to see everyone and enjoy high fives. The “well dones” and “great to see you again” on the course only adds to the atmosphere.

“As with other parkruns we have a real family feel and good friendships have been formed from meeting at parkrun.”

She says she’s become involved with other running groups and run at trail, road and cross country events. These include trail events of up to 25km and road relay teams.

“The social connections I’ve made are second to none and my physical and mental health has improved no end.


“I’ve become more involved with volunteering at parkrun, and other events, having more volunteer credits than running credits.

“Recently I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone and taken on the role of Event Ambassador for the lower North Island, supporting existing and new events.

“While I’m fairly new to parkrun compared to other existing events, I’m enjoying the challenge.

“I appreciate the support and assistance from the parkrun team in helping me provide ongoing support to our Event Directors, and supporting new Event Directors during the setting up process.

“We’re learning together.”

Tourism goals

Wendy’s short-term goals are to visit all the events she supports and to meet the Event Directors in person.

“I had hoped to achieve this by mid-year but realistically I have to move my goal post to the end of this year now the cross country season has started, and I have a few events on my calendar.

“There’s just not enough Saturdays in the week!

“My longer term goals are to continue supporting events and event directors as the number of parkruns in New Zealand grow, and to plan more holidays where there’s a parkrun, not just a lake for fishing. And to get my husband to parkrun!

“A highlight for me was about a year after I started parkrun and our Event Director asked me to be a run director.

“I was nervous at the prospect but also very excited. I thoroughly enjoy learning how parkrun works, not just the event itself, but the behind the scenes work. I’m learning even more as an Event Ambassador.”

As well as the lower North Island events (Palmerston North, Greytown Woodside Trail, Kapiti Coast, Porirua, Lower Hutt and Trentham Memorial) Wendy would like to run at Dunedin parkrun.

“Mainly because I’ve heard it’s steep and I enjoy a challenge! And any parkrun in Perth.

“I’ve got a grandson there I’m still to meet due to COVID-19.

“parkrun has opened up a whole new world for me that I never thought I’d be part of.

“The social connections make parkrun the success it is, here and around the world and I’m thrilled and excited to be part of it.”


The parkrunner who found his soulmate

Stu Leslie entered an event for the bling, little did he know that it would lead to a bride.

Stu lives in Upper Hutt, New Zealand. In 2016 he entered one of the larger running events on the calendar, Round The Bays half marathon. 

“The principle sponsor Cigna had set up a facebook group to help and encourage competitors.

“In there I met Anthony Beckett who lived close by so we went for an after work training run one night and Anthony told me all about parkrun. So I registered, turned up, ran fast, but still got passed by lots of much older, slower athletes.

“I entered Round The Bays because I really wanted one of the huge bling medals that half marathon finishers get. I thought I’d get in some sort of shape, run the half, get the medal, and then return to my former full time sport of mountainbiking.

Stu still rides, but here it’s as lead bike.

“But through the Cigna facebook group I met some very funny supportive runners who I finally met face to face at parkrun. And it was because of these people I stayed running.


“It was through running and joining other facebook running groups I met a very cute wee runner in Auckland, and it’s because of that very cute wee runner that I’m very happily married today.

“So I’d say parkrun has impacted my life pretty majorly.”

His wife Heather is also a keen parkrunner, she also runs ultras with her most recent being the Tarawera 50km.

Stu is a simple parkrunner when it boils down to the event. He’s achieved his 50 and 100 running milestones, plus his V25, but he’s no particular goals for touring or other unofficial parkrun challenges, aside from keeping on running.

Trentham Memorial

With the launch of the new Trentham Memorial parkrun in Upper Hutt (it started January 30, 2021), Stu is now on the run director roster.

“I really love the way many of our athletes are new parkrunners who joined because Upper Hutt got its own event. I wish more people would come along and join us – as I do for all parkrun events in New Zealand.

“It’s free, it’s fun and it’s healthy. And who doesn’t love coffee and scones first thing on a Saturday morning? I’m preaching to the converted, you all already know how much fun it is.

“I love the people. Cheering, chatting, coffeeing, generally just chewing the fat. Funnily enough I started doing parkrun for the running but now running is the least favourite part about parkrun.”


Stu has run at a number of different parkruns, his highlights have included running in his hometown of Blenheim and running at Aylesbury parkrun in the UK.  

“I saw a blue 500 t-shirt for the very first time there. That was right before the world went Covid crazy.

“Another highlight would be Bruce McCardle’s famous “Bruce’s Butt Busting Ball Breaking Blues Bus” Longest Day where in 2019 we did the five lower North Island parkruns in one day, only to topped this year with his six parkruns in one day.

“Physically it’s hard work but mentally it has been some of the funniest days running I’ve ever experienced. Nasally it’s not great but I never complain too much because I never know if it’s me or everyone else!”

At Greytown Woodside Trail, the fifth freedom run of the day.

50 runs and 50 volunteers for Rachael

Rachael Wright (A2643110) was part of a regular boot camp in Rotorua when she learned about parkrun from a dear friend.

Every Sunday Rach and Kiri Kepa (pictured left) would run a 3km loop in the Whakarewarewa Forest with Rotorua Group Challenge (RGC).

“She told me if I could run that loop, with a decent hill for a newbie I might add, I could run at parkrun. It was funny really because Kiri didn’t like parkrun as she didn’t like to run laps. I didn’t mind it too much but it would be a while before I became a regular.”

Rachael’s first parkrun was in 2017 at Rotorua’s Puarenga parkrun. Two years later Kiri died suddenly from an abdominal aortic aneurysm, aged 51.

“Kiri remains with me – and many others – to this day. We take her pounamu with us to events and when I wear it I feel her wairua (spirit) with me.

“When I’m finding parkrun tough I think of Kiri to get me through. She was fun to be around and always made our runs fly by.”

Carrying Kiri at Puarenga parkrun

Last month Rachael reached a double 50 milestone – her 50 runs and 50 volunteering occasions.

“parkrun helped me meet others, it was also part of my training plan for the Tarawera Ultra in 2017 and just recently has been part of my half marathon training plan (did someone say speedwork?).

Always there

“Puarenga parkrun has been the constant in my life, it’s something I know happens most Saturdays and even if I don’t run any other day of the week, there are people there to welcome me with open arms and run with.”

“I enjoy pushing myself out of my comfort zone, not one parkrun is the same, whether you regularly run your home parkrun or enjoy tourism. I love the encouragement, both given and received, seeing other people you know achieve their goals.

Celebrating 50 and 50

“I’d like to give my PB at Puarenga a crack again, for a long time I thought it would be unachievable.

“When I ran my PB I was in training for my ultra and super fit. I am a long way from where I was, but I would like to prove to myself that I am capable of doing it again if I put my mind to it.


“A while back I was injured and that meant no running. Being able to volunteer meant having a reason to get up on a Saturday and see others run and walk.

“I volunteer quite a bit even now, my partner is a run director. My preferred role is pre-event set-up as this means I can still contribute to our local parkrun but run as well.

“But I enjoy doing most roles. I was timekeeper quite a few times when I was injured.

“I would like to do every parkrun in New Zealand at least once. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people and a neat way to do some tourism whilst I’m at it.

“Everyone should give it a go, parkrun is the start of many great opportunities. You never know who you’ll meet or what goal you’ll achieve.

“But I can guarantee one thing; you’ll always find happy, likeminded people who are happy to have a chat about anything and nothing at all.”


How parkrun helped an Aussie settle in a new country

When Sydneysider Megan Clarke (A4095416) took off on a six week overland tour of Africa she never expected it would result in a move to New Zealand.

The 32-year-old finished that trip with a blossoming relationship with a Kiwi traveller.

She and Russell married in Sydney in 2018 and after a Europe honeymoon, Megan uplifted her life to Rotorua, New Zealand. That was June 2018

Russell was already a regular at Puarenga parkrun, but Megan didn’t make it to the Saturday event until June 2019.

“I’d heard about parkrun for quite a while before going along. I decided to join Russell one morning.

At Tauranga parkrun

“I was pretty intermittent for a while, as Saturday used to be my long run day. But when parkrun resumed in July last year after the Covid-19 break, I decided to run or volunteer at each parkrun until the Rotorua Marathon. That was my first every marathon and was at the end of September.

“This promise to myself was great motivation to get out of bed on those chilly Rotorua mornings and start my run.

“Though the Auckland cluster in August meant I was not able to do what I planned, I had run or volunteered each Saturday that parkrun was on.

“I enjoy being a marshal so that I can encourage everyone to do their best and keep going, even when they think they can’t.”

New habit

“After the marathon, parkrun had become such a good habit. It was a great way to become a part of the local community that I have not stopped coming back.”

Megan and Russell are making their way around the different New Zealand events. Russell is on the Most Events list (for running at 15 different New Zealand parkruns). Megan is well on her way with 12 venues visited.

At Taupo parkrun

“When I’m able to go home to Australia I would love to do the Parramatta parkrun. I’m registered to that one, even though I’ve not yet done it,” she said.

“I want to keep doing my best and keep on visiting new parkruns and seeing new parts of Aotearoa.”

parkrun highlights

“parkrun has been a great way for me to meet new people, still being a semi-recent arrival in Rotorua.

“It has given me a great way to start my weekend, and has been an important part of my marathon training programme. I’m planning to do my second Rotorua Marathon in May.

 “I love running through a geothermal landscape – it doesn’t get any more unique or Rotorua than that.

“Highlights for me are visiting Wanaka parkrun and leading a karakia timatanga (opening karakia) for Waitangi Day this year.”

Megan says she is looking forward to visiting Whangarei parkrun and exploring the Bay of Islands as part of their parkrun adventures.

At University of Waikato parkrun with Russell

How parkrun helped Megan run a marathon

Megan Bigg never thought she would be able to finish a marathon, but thanks to parkrun she completed that achievement last year.

The Anderson parkrunner has overcome some serious medical issues in the past, but regular 5km runs and walks have helped her stay active.

“In September 2004 I was out walking, training for what was then the Pak ‘n’ Save Hawkes Bay marathon clinic for the half marathon.

“I was with my sister and we had driven to the Ahuriri Estuary, walked round it and were on the way home when my aortic valve packed up and I suffered a cardiac event called a ventricular fibrillation.

“I was given CPR and was on life support for 10 days. The valve was replaced in November that year. 

“I completed that half marathon in 2007 and never did another one until 2016 and have continued doing a few each year.”

Megan Bigg at the Auckland Marathon finish.

“I also suffer from scoliosis and had that repaired but the rod and a screw has snapped, so have suffered nerve pain in the past. 

“So yep my body is broken, but it works and got me through my first marathon. Before parkrun I didn’t think that was possible.”

Finding parkrun

Megan’s first parkrun was on January 6, 2018 at Anderson parkrun.

She had seen a facebook post from a friend about New Year’s Day parkrun and was intrigued.  She registered straight away and was at the next parkrun.

“I didn’t know what to expect at my first parkrun. I was nervous and excited before I turned up. I wasn’t used to running 5km in a timed environment.”

Megan finishing her first parkrun.

“Afterwards I felt really pleased with my time and was excited about turning up the following week. I felt it went really well, I completed it with a mixture of running and walking. 

“After I had been parkrunning a few times it turned  out that one of the regulars used to be a personal trainer at the gym my Dad owned. She is now helping me run more than I walk.

New friends

She says parkrun has widened her social circle, as well as discovering the Greatest Virtual Runners online group. She signed up for their next available event and through that group met other members at the Hawkes Bay Marathon.

“Then I went to Wellington simply to try Lower Hutt parkrun. And since then I’ve done many events with these people.”

Celebrating her 50th milestone

“I use parkrun as a training tool and I am fitter than ever from doing parkrun.

“Without parkrun I don’t think I would be as fit as what I am now. I wouldn’t have met all these awesome new friends and I wouldn’t have travelled as much as I have in the last few years.”

New goals

Megan’s parkrun goals are to run at least one lap of Anderson parkrun non-stop and to visit the birthplace of park, Bushy parkrun.

She’s also a passionate volunteer, choosing to tail walk or write the run report.

“Both of those give me an opportunity to walk, but also to give back and support the parkrun movement.”


How a Napier woman found more support for a healthier lifestyle

Sally Houliston would see Anderson parkrunners while out walking in the same Napier park.

 A friend in the UK had also told her about parkrun so she decided that the 5km event would be a good way to get into running regularly as part of her overall fitness journey – she’d lost almost 35kg prior to joining parkrun.

Her first parkrun was in January 2020 and now she is a regular.

“I enjoy getting to meet new people from across the community with common interests plus it’s nice to be involved in something not work-focused.

“Being office based for my job Monday to Friday, it’s great to get out on a Saturday morning for the fresh air. The support from others in supporting you with fitness goals is really encouraging.

“Because of parkrun I’ve made new friends and connections. It’s also something our whole family has become involved with each week. I’m promoting a healthy lifestyle for my son and also friends.

Sally Houliston lost 35kg before she discovered parkrun.

“Going to parkrun is great for my mental health, and the running gives me a chance to have ‘me’ time – it’s my way of relaxation.”


Sally is aiming to achieve her 50 milestone this year, as well as to volunteer at least 10 times. She’s volunteered twice so far as marshal and run report write.

“I really enjoyed marshalling and giving encouragement to others.”

Sally is a passionista of Anderson parkrun, she’s run all her 33 events to date at the Hawkes Bay parkrun.

However she says she would like to visit the Queenstown and Wanaka parkruns as her parents live in Central Otago.

Being involved with parkrun has contributed to Sally’s fitness.

“I have a goal to run at least two half marathons this year. I also want to get my parkrun PB closer to 25 – 26 mins, it’s currently 26:59.

“Because of parkrun I’ve been able to get involved with a new community group and now my teenage son is coming along.

“Having been on a significant health and fitness journey in the past three years, participating in parkrun is another way of incorporating activities into a new healthy lifestyle.”


Margaret Donovan: parkrun is for everyone

How one special needs mum found an activity that met the needs of both her and her son.

At first it was an opportunity for her son to run, but parkrun has been just as beneficial to Margaret Donovan.

Margaret and her 29-year-old son Patrick, known as Pat, have been regulars at Lower Hutt parkrun since she was told about the free, weekly 5km in January 2014.

If you’re a regular at Lower Hutt you will know Pat, but to those who have yet to see him run, he has one speed – and it’s fast.

When Margaret learned about parkrun Pat was training for the Special Olympics in the 5000m, 3000m and 1500m. Margaret would take him to the park where he would run laps.

“He’s got no road sense, no sense of speed or distance,” she said.

“He can’t run on his own. We were going to Hutt Park, which wasn’t very exciting. Then someone asked if we went to parkrun, he’s been doing it ever since.”

About Pat

We usually go back to the beginning in these stories to find out how a parkrunner got started. For this we go back to when Pat was 4.

“When he was four he had cancer and suffered a severe reaction to his medication. He was on life support for a while and suffered irreversible brain damage.

“He will always be a 6-year-old, even though he’s now 29 and over 6 feet tall. He presents like he’s autistic.”

Margaret said when she heard about parkrun she looked it up and was struck by the concept.

“I wondered why I’d not heard about it before in healthcare. That you can go along each week….I’ve pushed it whenever we’ve gone to the GP, telling him to write scripts for it.”

Pat’s first parkrun was likely more unnerving for Margaret than for him.

“I was a bit worried. He’s a little odd being special needs. I hoped people weren’t put off [by him being there], but everyone was so friendly. It was great.”

Something for Margaret

Margaret went along a couple of times as a spectator then one week there was a shout out for a volunteer.

Margaret in her happy place

“And then I was hooked. I thought parkrun was just for Pat but now it’s something for both of us. I just love volunteering.”

At the time of writing Pat has run 236 parkruns*, his personal best is 18:36. He’s finished first three times – once each at Lower Hutt, Whanganui Riverbank and Coburg in Australia.

When he went to the World Special Olympics in 2015 he finished 5th in the 3000m and 7th in the 5000m. He’s won numerous medals in New Zealand Special Olympics games.

Margaret, meanwhile, has run once and volunteered 201 times. The one parkrun Margaret has run was in Queenstown.

“It looked so beautiful that I thought I must do it.’

“parkrun has been wonderful for Pat. He can go out and run, he doesn’t have to stay where I can see him.

“He’s such a consistent runner, he goes at the same pace from start to finish. It’s been so good for him because he’s been invited along to other running groups that are spin offs from parkrun.  He’s got those opportunities. He just loves to run.”


She said one thing he likes to do when the results are processed is to look through them to see who achieved a new personal best.

“He gets so excited for them.”

When he reached 150 parkruns, Pat will achieve his 250 milestone this year.

Margaret’s one wish is for more runners with special needs to get involved.

“parkrun gets you out of bed on a Saturday and do some exercise in a community that’s supportive.

“When you have special needs it’s not like you’ve a lot of friends. You’re at home with your parents. It’s great to turn up and know everyone.

“The other Lower Hutt parkrunners make an effort with him. You have to make an effort to engage him and people are so prepared to do that.

“He would stand there otherwise. People have spent time getting to know him and he’s engaging with the community. He can access it the same way as everyone else, his special needs are not important.

“Even though it’s not a race he sees it as a good thing to do.

“I love it, I know it’s so good for him.”

*Stats correct as of February 4

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Margaret Johnstone: Walking Her Way to 50

When Margaret Johnstone celebrated her 50th parkrun it was much cause for celebration.

Invercargill parkrun posted a tribute to Margaret, commending her on her consistency and for being a part of their community.

While this isn’t out of the ordinary, what makes Margaret stand out is that she’s 75 and one of the regular walkers at Invercargill.

Margaret was a joy to speak to, she was eager to say she’s not stopping at 50; she’s already looking forward to the next milestone of 100 park runs.

Not bad for someone who thought it would take them a long time to build up to 5km in the first place.

Margaret is a breast cancer survivor and has lymphedema, which means she has to wear an elastic armband for her waking hours.

“I’m doing parkrun for my health, to get me fit but I also love the company. I look forward to people giving me encouragement. [Event director] Liz is just wonderful.”

What’s parkrun?

Margaret joined Invercargill parkrun in January 2019.

She and husband Carl had been away on a trip with the local tramping club. They were with their long-time friends Barry and Robin Smith, regular Invercargill parkrunners.

“Carl was telling him how I walk around Queen’s Park on my own. Barry said that he had the right thing for me. He said to come to parkrun. I’d never heard of it so he told me all about it.”

To start with Margaret didn’t walk the full course (nor cross the finish line). She was met at the 2km marker by Barry once he had finished and then another parkrunner, Regan Prattley, would join her to finish.

“Then one week Barry said he thought I could do the full 5km and I believed him.”

That was February 2019. Since then Margaret has been a regular at Queen’s Park, either walking, marshalling or tail walking.

Celebrating her 50th

They are so wonderful and supportive towards me, I’ve got a few health problems. It’s taken me a while to get to 50.”

Counting down

She and her husband Carl were away for one week in Rolleston. Carl walked at Foster parkrun but Margaret was on 49 parkruns and wanted to wait until she was back at home to celebrate.

There she was cheered on by fellow parkrunners. Unfortunately Carl was unable to get there, but Margaret wasn’t waiting.

“Every week I was counting down. My Saturdays would be boring if I didn’t know about parkrun.”

During the week Margaret keeps active with line dancing, ballroom dancing and Zumba, but parkrun is a highlight. One of her ballroom dancing friends lives across the road from the course and is standing at her window waving each Saturday.

Spreading the word

“I tell people that parkrun is wonderful, that they’re really supportive. It takes me an hour to do mine.

“My granddaughter is going to start parkrun and walk with me. My daughter works most weekends and comes when she can.”

Her son lives in Christchurch and visited for Christmas. He and his girlfriend went to parkrun with her on Christmas Day – and hopefully they will keep on going.

She tells everyone she can that parkrun is something that would enhance their weekends.

“I tell people to come with me and do their own pace. As long as you get there that’s the main thing At the finish I’m always so pleased to have done another 5km.

“I’d love to see more walkers do parkrun. It’s healthy for you and you forget about all your problems. And afterwards we enjoy the coffee and mousetraps at The Cheeky Llama.”


parkrun = Instant Friends

Joe and Emma Walsh arrived in Whangarei in August 2019. Thanks to parkrun they found instant friends. They have recently returned to the UK.
Joe shared his thoughts and experiences about parkrun with Runs With a Barcode.

“Prior to moving to New Zealand I’d dabbled at parkrun on just two occasions.

We lived in Edinburgh at the time so I had the choice of two parkruns locally: Edinburgh and Portobello.

Edinburgh parkrun goes down the promenade at Cramond beach. A flat and fast lollipop shaped route I only did this one once.

Portobello, on the other hand, was a touch closer and was three loops of a nice park called Figgate Park; but again only managed this twice.

Interestingly my final parkrun in the UK was the Market Harborough parkrun on May 25, 2019. This was the morning of my wedding day, and so I managed to drag my groomsman along for the fun. 


We arrived in Whangarei in August 2019. I’m an Emergency Department doctor and my wife Emma was working in the Obstetrics and Gynaecology department. We were both working at Whangarei Hospital.

I knew there was a parkrun in Whangarei. In my head I’d thought “well the weather in New Zealand will be great, don’t really have an excuse not to be a parkrun regular now”.

Joe at his final Whangarei parkrun on December 12

We landed in New Zealand on August 13, moved to Whangarei on the 15th and then attended Whangarei parkrun on the 17th.

The first run was great.

It was a smaller parkrun than I was used to previously, which gave it a real community feel.

It was interesting to hear about the course, and its quirks such as the bridge which goes up from time to time for the boats to pass below.

One thing I also noticed was the presence of the Hatea Harriers local running club who help co-ordinate the Parkrun, and I had the chance to chat to people there about it.

My wife is certainly not a keen runner but she watched that day, then volunteered the next week, then ran the course the week after!


Being a parkrunner helped me to get rapidly integrated into the community and the local running scene.

Within a few weeks I was a regular at the Hatea Harriers and was able to make many new friends via the parkrun community.

parkrun always seems to bring people together from such a wide range of backgrounds and so there was always a new face to chat to and get to know as each week passed.

Also my first volunteer came at Whangarei parkrun which gave me a completely different perspective on how the event works.

Emma Walsh

Volunteering specifically was a great way to meet new people whilst everyone else was running the course. The nearby Christie’s coffee bar was always on hand with tea and coffee to keep us fueled. 

For anyone moving to a new town or country where there is parkrun I’d say get involved and put yourself out there!

parkrun was such a great way for my wife and I to get settled into a new community, especially when we had moved so far from home. 

We tried to fit them in whenever we travelled around New Zealand. We ran at Blenheim, Wanaka and Queenstown and each was unique and welcoming in equal measure. 


We will miss Whangarei parkrun, especially the people. I made some really great friends in the almost 18 months we lived in Whangarei, and the vast majority came from my involvement at parkrun.

The parkrun is going from strength to strength in terms of both numbers and community spirit and I’m excited to visit in the future (or maybe come back permanently) to see how things change.

One thing I won’t miss however is that previously mentioned bridge going up and down during the parkrun though!

We’d definitely recommend people make the effort to visit Whangarei parkrun if they ever come to New Zealand. One thing we’ve been telling people is how we miss being able to do parkrun each week.

Currently the UK is in a national lockdown due to worryingly high rates of coronavirus. As such parkrun is on hold nationally and may not be back for many many more months to come, which is a real shame.

It’s been lovely to keep an eye out for the run reports and excellent photos taken each week at Whangarei, so in a small way it feels like I can still be involved.”


Martin Harrap: Championing parkrun

If you’re a friend of Martin Harrap’s then you’ve most likely been initiated into parkrun.

The Whangarei parkrunner – and parkrun NZ ambassador – has registered some 24 people with parkrun such it is a big part of his life.

It all started on New Year’s Eve, 2016 when a friend was visiting he and his wife Gina.

“Ros Kelly has been a friend of ours for a while. She was up here visiting but said she couldn’t stay as she was doing a New Year’s Day parkrun the next day.

“I didn’t know what that was and within half an hour my wife and I were both registered.

“January 2017 I was at Whangarei parkrun.”

Martin’s about to chalk up his 100th parkrun, all going well that will be on Boxing Day.

Run directing at Whangarei parkrun

“I don’t push people to come to parkrun, but my wife laughs at that. Everyone who stays here on a Friday night we get them registered and they do parkrun, either walk or run.


“We went to the University of Waikato inaugural so we could be a tourist. We stayed with a couple who we’ve known for 25 years, he’s 70 and she’s about the same. I asked if they wanted to come and they said yes. Well Jane’s only missed one and has been bringing other people along.”

He says this is why he became an ambassador – to encourage more people to parkrun, be they runners or walkers, old or young.

“Covid knocked it about a bit as there were no events but my aim is to try to get as many people involved who wouldn’t think about it. People with chronic health conditions, or other challenges. It’s the community side that I want to promote.

“I’ve done a little bit of investigation around runners with visual impairments. They need a guide so there’s now six of us who can do guiding up at Whangarei.”


“Gina always says to me that I love parkrun because it’s all about community and getting out there. Even just inviting someone to come along and watch parkrun is a way of helping get people out into the community.”

Like so many parkrunners before him (and likely to come still), Martin says because of parkrun he has met many “wonderful” of varying skill sets that he might not have met otherwise.

This includes a hospital doctor who ran his final New Zealand parkrun this weekend before making the journey home to the UK after a year in .

“When he arrived here his family decided to do parkrun. He said that through parkrun he joined Hatea Harriers and before he knew it her had all these new friends.”

If you’re wondering how Martin knows how many people he was registered for parkrun, it’s because he keeps a barcode.

“I’ve a little box at home full of barcodes. When we print them out I keep one so if they visit they can still come along to parkrun even if they didn’t bring their barcode with them.”


Chris Bishop: The politician who parkruns

Election campaigns tend to involve public meetings, canvassing the streets and attending as many public events as is possible.

For National MP Chris Bishop the 2020 campaign also included parkrun.

He spent his election Saturdays at Lower Hutt parkrun, recording a 26:33 on election day (October 17, 2020).

At the time of writing he sits on 48 runs, all of them on the Lower Hutt course dating back to 2017.

“I go through love-hate cycles with running.”

That’s evident by his parkrun profile – after registering in 2017 he ran seven parkruns in six months. The following year he managed four.

He was back to loving running again in 2019 with 21 runs under his belt.

“I’ve been running off and on since 2011. I always hated running, had an aversion to it. I started putting on a bit of weight and started going to the gym. The weight came off and I started running.”

He first ran a 10km and then a half marathon. He’s run three so far.

At his first parkrun back after the first pause.

“I find running hard sometimes but then I get into it. In 2017 I was in a ‘I don’t like running’ phase. A couple of my supporters told me about parkrun. They said it was really easy.

“I turned up, didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t have a barcode but I ran the course and really enjoyed it, so I kept coming back.

“It gets me out of bed on a Saturday morning. It’s a motivator. It gets the exercise for the weekend out of the way. I feel really refreshed at the end of it.

“I also like the sense of community. You start to see familiar faces. I know a few people monitor their performance by where they are in relation to me.”

Like most of us can probably appreciate, he says elections are “particularly stressful”.

“I did parkrun almost every weekend in the campaign. It was good to get [a run] out of the way. I’ve run during two election campaigns now.

“I like the community outreach too. Even when I’m all sweaty at the end people come up to me to talk about things they’re concerned about. It’s a good way of communicating with people.”

Chris with his wife Jenna and Samoyed Ladyhawke

So far there’s no parliamentary running club on the parkrun site, he says there are a number of MPs who attend the gym and both National and Labour MPs enter the annual Round the Bays event in Wellington.

But that’s not to say he’s not talking about it, like the organic growth of parkrun we may yet see more MPs turning up to their nearest parkrun on a Saturday.

Chris says he’s never been able to tie in a parkrun while overseas on parliamentary business (or even domestically) but pre-covid days he was “astonished” at the overseas parkrunners at Lower Hutt on a Saturday morning.

“You’d see all these people from different countries and think ‘how on earth did they end up here’. I thought it was really cool that parkrun is global.

“I like that community and that’s what’s so important in politics – it’s all about community and a shared sense of doing something together as a collective.”


Vatau Sagaga: parkrun and Pasifika

“Running isn’t in our DNA.”

Yet Vatau Sagaga has almost 300 parkruns to his name. Throw in a London Marathon and some halfs and 10kms and soon you realise he’s bucking that belief.

And he wants to see more like him.

The Samoan New Zealander stands out at parkrun, despite him representing a large demographic of people living in his community.

He lives in Wainuiomata, Lower Hutt is his regular and he’s run at six New Zealand courses (there’s more to his parkrunning, which we’ll get to).

“You think of Porirua as Pasifika but everyone there were palagi,” he says.

“It’s a sport that we’re not built for. I didn’t like cross country at school and pre-season rugby training because of the long runs. Running isn’t in our DNA.

“We stand out by the way we look.”

Discovering parkrun

Vatau’s running story begins when he and his wife Mel travelled to the UK for their two year OE.

“But we loved it there, we found work and got our residency and ended up with citizenship nine years later.”

Vatau got into running by supporting his wife and two sisters at a half marathon – they’d taken up running to complement their netball training. He saw runners of all ages and realised he needed to do something for his own health.

That was 2011 and that first run resulted in several half marathons and a London Marathon finish.

“Then, as runners sometimes do (from what I read in one of my Runner’s World magazines anyway) they go through a rut, they lose their motivation, get bored, need a new challenge etc. I’d shed a few kgs so was content. Enter, parkrun.

Taking the plunge

“I registered in June 2013 when I found out there was a Maidstone event, the course being along part of my old Sunday long run route. Perfect. But I didn’t attend until July such was my lack of energy or motivation to do anything! 

“I loved the atmosphere there. The first person I met was warm and welcoming. There were young kids there and a whole range of people. That’s why I still go.

“Now my son, wife and sisters are all taking part.”

Back row (from left): Vatau Sagaga with sisters Toli Sagaga and Karen Isaac. Front row: Vatau Junior Sagaga and his cousin Vatau Isaac.
Pasifika and parkrun

“When we came home for good in 2015 there were only a few parkruns around but parkrun was always going to be part of our Saturday programme. I even toyed with the idea of starting one up in the suburb where I live; that’s how excited I was.

“The issue for me is there are not enough Pasifika and Maori taking part in parkrun.

“When we were in the UK people would come up and speak to me and they’d hear me speak with a Kiwi accent and think that I’m Maori. I didn’t get to share much about being Samoan, or South Sea Islander, as we are referred to.”

Being back in New Zealand and he’s among people with similar accents but a different culture.


“I always think about how we can get more Maori and Islanders to parkrun. It’s good to get people moving.

“I see it a lot in Wainui – we have a new shared pathway up Wainui Hill which is used by so many people but I don’t know if a 5km is going to interest many people.

“An entire field of Pasifika parkrunners would be great, I want to see parkrun reflecting our community.

Vatau at Maidstone parkrun, his original home event.

“There’s more to our community than palagis of course. I don’t know what’s holding us back. I see other sports like hockey, which were predominantly palagi but now has more and more Maori and Islanders playing. So it can happen.”

He believes parkrun could help reverse the increase in childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes, which is currently a health issue, but it’s getting people to start that is the challenge.

Why he parkruns

“I go to parkrun because it’s close. You meet a bunch of people who become your parkrun buddies. Lower Hutt isn’t my favourite course – you’re up against the elements.

“It’s a north-south course so being Wellington will nearly always have a strong northerly or a southerly but it’s parkrun. It’s an awesome group though, because even in the wild weather you get more than 100.

With Junior at Lower Hutt

“The people are why I go. When I’m not doing so much exercise as I think I should be, parkrun is always a staple in the diary.

“I love seeing the older people; they’re a real inspiration. My goal is to still be doing parkrun when I’m that age.

“That’s what’s so good about parkrun. Anyone can do it. And it’s free.”

Vatau Junior Sagaga tail walking at Lower Hutt with his Aunty Toli Sagaga.

Nigel & Wendy: A parkrun adventure

Achieving parkrun milestones takes Nigel Milius and Wendy Hare somewhat longer than most.

The pair have been parkrunners since 2015 and 2016 respectively, but Wendy only joined the 50 club this month. Nigel is a few runs ahead on 74 – he completed his first 50 runs at 50 different events but more on that later.

The couple spend up to 10 months of the year out of the country – and typically at sea. Even when they are at home, they live more than two hours away from a parkrun.

Most of our chat was discussing the amazing adventures the pair have been on.

As wildlife guides they’ve sailed to both the Antarctic and Arctic, and have explored Nepal, Uganda, the islands around the United Kingdom and so much more on holiday – “so much world, so little lifetime,” says Wendy.

While travelling they’ve also recorded parkrun finishes in seven other parkrun countries when itineraries permitted. As well as New Zealand Nigel has run in Australia, United Kingdom, South Africa, Malaysia, United States and Norway. Wendy has run in Canada on top of these, but not South Africa.

It’s thanks to COVID-19 that they find themselves able to explore more of New Zealand, and their quest to complete all the New Zealand events.


Instead of heading down to the Antarctic they’ll be spending some time on the South Island combining birdwatching with parkrunning.

“From our home at Cooks Beach it’s quite a mission  – two and a half hours – to get to the nearest parkrun,” says Wendy.

“When you spend as little time at home as we do, it’s nice to stay at home sometimes. I do like to travel though, that’s one of the nice things about parkrun – it’s taken us to nice places.

“It’s more about being on land on a Saturday and we’re seldom on land on a Saturday! When we’ve been on ships we’ve been able to make an excuse for one of us to get to a parkrun, but for both of us it’s a bit much.”

Though as Nigel points out, that all depended on a number of stars aligning – being in port on a Saturday, at a location where there was parkrun and in time to get there, plus not being scheduled to work

Prior to lockdown the pair were hoping to visit Cape Pembroke Lighthouse parkrun in the Falkland Islands, the most southerly in the world. Flights from the UK are usually on Saturdays, meaning parkrun tourists would miss two parkrun days travelling in and out.

But thanks to their guiding experience, and some might say influence, they’d convinced the tour company, A21, to schedule their trip to take in the parkrun.

“It’s another selling point for clients,” Nigel says.

“I think it’s great there’s a parkrun in the Falklands. I think it would be great if there were one in Antarctica, not where they have the marathon but somewhere more scenic. Logistically it couldn’t happen but it would be nice.” 

The beginning

Given their vast distance from a parkrun, and their months at sea, you may be wondering how they ever got their barcodes.

It started with Nigel, who used to be a runner as a youngster. Like lots of people he stopped and didn’t find it again for around 20 years.

“I realised I wasn’t exercising enough so I started running again. This was 2009. In 2015 my sister Val (Perigo) told me about parkrun. She lives in the UK and goes to parkrun there. Her local is Longrun Meadow at Taunton and when it got stared she and her partner Phil Wilson got involved on the volunteering front, as well as running.

At Delamere parkrun with Val and Phil

“I did one at Cornwall Park, then a couple of weeks after that I was back in the UK, though it took four months to register my second parkrun.

“I got the idea of going to different ones and decided that I was going to get my 50 at 50 different courses. My 50th event was at Tamar Lakes in the UK. I’d never heard of the Hoffman club (first 50 runs at 50 different events) at that point, it was just something I thought about doing.

At Whitby parkrun in Canada
Choose your own adventure

“parkrun can be whatever you want it to be. It can be the same one every week or you can do it like I did or anything in between. With our lifestyle the concept of a home parkrun is a bit strange to us.

Yeovil Montacute parkrun in the UK

“I’ve talked about trying to complete the country and others have asked if it gets depressing when a new one starts up but it’s great as it gives us somewhere new to go.”

Jogging Deck 9

A case in point was Whanganui Riverbank, the couple visited New Zealand’s 30th event at its inaugural.

That run was very different to one of Nigel’s more infamous (not)parkruns, for which he has a custom apricot to celebrate.

“I joined the ship at the bottom of South America in Ushuaia, we’d gone from the Falkland Islands to Cape Town and Wendy was due to join us.

“We were then going to go up the west coast of Africa, which was going to be a new area for both of us. Then COVID kicked off.

“Wendy’s trip was cancelled and then I had a few issues getting home. I eventually got back from the UK in the middle of June.

“The ship was called Silver Cloud and had a jogging track on deck 9. It was bigger than other ships we go on but smaller than most. I had to run 62 laps to reach 5km. My sister got the shirt made for me.”

Sadly that visit to the Falklands didn’t coincide with a parkrun.

“I’ve been pushing for them to get involved with parkrun as I wanted to run at Cape Pembroke. They were quite keen and we’re hoping the ship will go next year and we’ll do it then. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the Falklands – it’s a fantastic place to go to.”

Silver linings

Wendy took to parkrun while Nigel was away working. One of their friends had surprised his wife by joining her at parkrun so she decided to do the same.

“I don’t have a running history like Nigel. I started in 2016 and not that long after I got a knee problem. I’d been on a horse trek in the South Island and ended up with this injury.

“When I finally got it sorted my doctor said I couldn’t run. It was no disaster as I can walk faster than when I used to run.

“My walking pace is picking up and I’m looking forward to learning more walking skills from other, faster, walkers I meet at parkrun.”

While they may have no idea what the next few months will bring workwise, they’ve been finding the silver linings.

“I’ve got an offer for mid-March to sail from South America to South Africa but whether it goes ahead or not, who knows? There are so many things out of our control,” says Nigel.

“We’re pretty lucky. We’ve no kids and we own our house. We can go off and enjoy ourselves. If Plan B is exploring New Zealand, watching birds, it’s a great opportunity to do that.”

Places where they would love a parkrun: Borneo, Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, Uganda, Antarctica

Memorable experiences: So many, but walking to an Emperor penguin colony with small chicks was “quite impressive”. “It was minus 22 but beautiful weather and a fantastic experience. The chicks are really curious and they’ll come right up to you.”

If this were a parkrun it would not be a PB course!

Fudge: Finding joy at every event

Fudge was born to parkrun.

His human, James Doherty, is a keen parkrunner himself, with 289 finishes to his name at the time of chatting.

But parkrun has never been the same since Fudge came into his life.

Fudge is a cavoodle – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel/Poodle – and was born missing his left eye. He came into the Doherty’s home after their previous dog, a Newfoundland, went back to its breeder.

“We thought it was too soon to get another dog but Fudge became a firm family favourite,” says James.

“Then we went from a 50kg dog to a 2kg puppy. We went to Cornwall parkrun before he was allowed to be on the ground – my son was holding him while I was running.

“Fudge dropped to the ground and started running between the leaders’ legs.”

And that was the start of Fudge at parkrun.


He’s now 5 – his birthday is the same as parkrun so easy to remember, and appropriate for him, James says, given his love of the free 5km.

“I think we’ve just gone past the 150 events together, we celebrated that at Millwater parkrun when we returned from lockdown. My mother has knitted him milestone jerseys.

“We didn’t know he would be a running dog.”

Fudge has run mostly at Millwater, though he’s also visited the other Auckland parkruns, plus tested the courses for two new events.

James started him off by running a kilometre at a time and before too long Fudge was running the whole way.

His favourite time of year has been the now defunct New Year’s Day double.

“We ran at Western Springs and then we drove to Hobsonville Point. He ran faster at the second one.


“Dogs are such a nice part of parkrun. They provide a great icebreaker for people. parkrun is pretty sociable anyway but it’s something that enables people to be able to take their dogs too.

“A lot of kids come up and ask if they can pat Fudge.”

James has also run at Hamilton Lake parkrun but Fudge isn’t such a great long distance traveller.

His human says it’s because he gets so excited when he gets in the car to go anywhere.

“But he knows when we’re close to a parkrun course. I love the joy he gets out of parkrun.

“I’ve got three kids and I’ve brought them along to parkrun and they’ve all got their Junior 10 milestone, but Fudge has much more enjoyment from it.”


Fudge is an obedient parkrunner, staying quiet for the important run briefing, but as soon as the runners move to the start line he knows the best part is about to come.

“He barks, spins around and tries to leap to catch the start. The whole time he’s got this happy face.”

James says he loves how everyone has fun at parkrun, especially when there are dress-up occasions.

For the July restart, when New Zealand events adopted a country, Millwater adopted Italy and Fudge had an Italian flag knitted by James’ mother.

He also has a bumblebee outfit.

“For my 100th run at Cornwall park I wanted to do something fun, so I joggled (running and juggling). That was quite a challenge!”

James has a couple of tips for dog owners wanting to give parkrun a go, the first is to start small, the second is to do a warm up run.

“It reduces parkrun mini stops, but not always.”


Steve Darby: Tales from a 500 clubber

When Steve Darby asked me what my record was for post-parkrun chat I knew I was in for a long morning.

We fell way short of his record by a couple of hours, but in my defence I did have to drive the four hours back to Rotorua by mid-afternoon.

Still, I feel we could have still been at the Columbus Café by close if it hadn’t been for that minor detail. The man can talk parkrun.

Steve’s barcode is A22706, which is more than two million parkrunners before mine. He’s run more than three times my parkrun total.

At Whanganui Riverbank parkrun, where we finally got to meet, volunteers in the café were full of amazement.

But as Steve says “it all depends on when you started”.

At Hobsonville Point, Scottairplaning
The first event

It started way back in 2008 when Steve was living in Yorkshire, England.

“I’d run in the past, then had a few years off. I was looking for low key races to get going. I saw something online about a 5km, which was free. I thought that was a great price rate.”

That event is what is now known as Woodhouse Moor parkrun in Leeds, but was then known as Hyde Park Time Trial.

It was started by the now Chief Operating Officer of parkrun, Tom Williams.

In 2007, when working as a lecturer in Sport & Exercise Science at the University of Leeds, Tom helped start up the event, which was at that time the fourth parkrun event and the first outside London.

“I was trying to find out what the catch was to this free event. I was really sceptical. I looked at how many had run the previous week and thought I’d have a look.”

That was November 22, 2008, which gives you a good understanding of how he’s notched up 500 parkruns.

Post parkrun at Porirua with Brent Foster

We could look at Steve’s parkrun profile and draw on any number of things to talk about – how many he’s run, how many different events he’s visited, how despite living in New Zealand for almost three years he’s still not run at all of New Zealand’s courses.

But first we’ll look at how his touring got started.

“Back then they only started one new event a month. For two to three years you could continue to run all the parkruns in the world, but it got to the point where you knew you wouldn’t be able to carry on.

“For me the tourism is a positive aspect because it creates different memories and you get to visit different places. But if you went to a different place every single week you would miss an important part of parkrun.

“I’ve revisited about 150.”

About the 500 Shirt

“When you look at people with 500 you pretty much know them all, because they were going at the same time as you. It might be rare in New Zealand but not Woodhouse Moor.

“Getting to 500 is only a matter of time before there’s lots in New Zealand.”

About volunteering

“I started helping Tom Williams out with new courses because he was getting a bit stretched. This was before the ambassador programme.

“I became event director at Dewsbury and was run director the day Chris Cowell ran his 100th event there. After a year the ambassador programme was set up.

The day Chris Cowell became the first parkrunner to run at 100 different events

“Then the new events started to accelerate. There are some parkrunners who go through your profile to see how many times you’ve volunteered, but event directors are volunteering every week and ambassadors do a lot of work – neither get volunteer credits for it. “

About life or death

“In May 2016 I had a sebaceous carcinoma on my skull; it’s a really aggressive cancer.

“The operation was on a Friday, you’re told you must have seven days complete rest, but they’ve already told you that you’ve three months to live.

“We had a flight booked to Dublin at 6am the next morning to go to Father Collins parkrun, we thought we’d go anyway.

“I had bandages on my head. I thought maybe U could just run slowly, I’ll be okay.

“I ended up getting carried away and coming second to Hannah [Oldroyd].

“I stopped at the end thinking how much blood was coming out? Not much. At the cafe the run director said there was a 10km that evening, so we went and did that.

“Sunday morning the original plan was to run a half marathon, so we obviously did that too.

“Seven days complete rest?

“It probably wasn’t the most sensible thing, however, when I went back to have my healing assessed they said it had healed quickly.

“I went back for my results a month later and they said they couldn’t find them, and to come back the next month – bearing in mind they’d told me I had three months to live.

“When I got the results the consultant said they did have them then, but he wanted a second opinion.

“It was completely harmless and I didn’t need any more check ups.”

About moving to New Zealand

“Hannah was looking for a job in Australia. We’d got permanent residence for Australia and went there for four weeks in 2015.

“When you get permanent residency for Australia you’ve got up to five years to settle there. That’s how we ended up in New Zealand; it’s just become more permanent.

At the cafe after Barry Curtis parkrun

“It was after I’d initially been told I had three months to live.”

About the Longest parkrun

“We did it in 2011 and 2012, but it got a bit mad with 250 to 300 people moving between different venues at the same time as the Olympic torch!”

The longest parkrun was held on the first Sunday after the longest Day (June 21 in the UK). The goal was to run at seven parkrun courses one after the other.

Running the Longest Day 2012

“We also ran 10/10, in 2010 when there was 10 parkruns in Yorkshire. We started thinking about doing them all in one day. It was me, Tom and Guy Willard. We did more than 300 miles in driving as well as running 31 miles. That was on the shortest day of the year. On that day eight out of the 10 were officially cancelled because of ice.

“Tom’s aim was to run a minute quicker at each one, and he did it.”

In 2012 he also ran 20:20 – 20 Yorkshire parkruns over two days (they ran Woodhouse Moor twice). There were two others – John Broom and Simon Newton.

Graves parkrun, the official parkrun for the 20/20 challenge

“Doing all the parkruns in any area is of no interest, you’ll get to them at some point. I wouldn’t go out of my way to run Balclutha parkrun. It has to coincide with some kind of exploration.

“I’ve not run Invercargill parkrun officially, but I’ve done it as a freedom run, Wanaka, Kapiti Coast, haven’t been run officially.

“Bere Island is the most unique parkrun I’ve run. I ran the inaugural and a special one when Paul Sinton-Hewitt and world champion Irish athlete Sonia O’Sullivan were there. There’s only 180 people who live on the island.

“It was very relaxed.”

About New Zealand parkruns

“In New Zealand the parkrun venues are stunning. I can’t think of one that isn’t.

“They’re all good sized, none are over-crowded, which is very different to the UK, and they never will overgrow.

At Whanganui Riverbank parkrun, a first time at the event, though no doubt will return.

“It’s different. It feels like a town in the sense that there’s a network of people across the country who all know each other.”

About the most memorable parkrun

“Where something went wrong.

“I went the wrong way at Worsley Woods and ended up running about 8km.

“The first five times I’ve experienced having a lead bike it’s went wrong.

“Event teams should relax about getting everything perfect. Very few people have got 59:59 to their name because it’s not going to go wrong very often.

“I’ve got one out of 533 events; that’s how reliable the timing is at parkrun.”


The Webbers: Vanning All Over NZ

When you live in a motorhome you can travel to lots of parkruns.

But even better, while you’re not part of a permanent community, you find you’re part of the countrywide running community.

Lee is from Brisbane, Australia. Carly is a Kiwi with family in Wellington. They have three kids – Eli, 11, Hayley, 10 and Nathan 8 and until the end of 2016, lived in Australia.

“We’d planned on living in New Zealand for two years before heading back to Australia. But at the end of the two years, we bought a motorhome instead,” says Carly.

“I wanted to do a gap year, home school the kids and see other parts of New Zealand before leaving again.”

Travel plans were made around running events, Lee likes the trails and Carly the road ones. It means each gets to run while the other parents. Factoring in parkruns was an extra bonus.

“We thought it would be cool if we could tick off all the North Island parkruns south of Auckalnd. We started seeing some familiar faces as parkrunners travel.”

They’ve been to nine parkruns in the North Island, though they very rarely get to run the same one at the same time.

Getting started

We’ll roll back to when they started running. In 2018 Carly entered Wellington’s Round The Bays 10km and Lee joined in too.

“I couldn’t run the whole thing, it was crazy hard! So I thought I should start over smaller. We looked around for other events to do that were under 10km and parkrun popped up. We lived in Wairarapa at the time and our nearest one was in Lower Hutt.

Lee and Nathan at the front of Greytown Woodisde Trail parkrun

“We didn’t want to drive over the Rimutakas just to run Lower Hutt parkrun, but the grandparents lived there and there’s the markets, so we thought we’d stay the night and make a weekend of it.

“We didn’t know anyone else there. We ran it then went home. We weren’t very engaged. But the more running we did the more runners we met. It seemed that parkrun was everyone’s gateway to running.”

Their parkrun story slowly developed, with trips to Lower Hutt once a month in the back end of 2018.

The kids

Then in February 2019, just as they were setting off on their adventure, they each ran and walked at the new Greytown Woodside Trail parkrun.

By then the kids had started going to parkrun too.

Nathan now has 25 parkrun finishes, Eli and Hayley 6 each.

Nathan getting his J10 certificate – I was the lucky run director on the day

“When Nathan started running he wanted to run every one,” says Lee.

“He tends to run with whichever one of us is running. The 5k is a bit long for Eli and Hayley who walk their parkruns, so we’ve had a few where they’ve not finished.

“But even with a DNF, it’s great to see them out exercising and joining in! I love two lap courses the most, because whoever’s got the lead can collect the kids on the second lap if it’s become too much, and then the other can run their own to finish.”

Lee with Hayley and Eli when they marshaled.

One time at Greytown Lee ran as fast as he could, in order to tag team Carly waiting at the finish with the kids – then she had to spint to catch and overtake the Tail-End-Charlie.

“One thing I like about parkrun is that it’s not about the time,” says Lee.

“It’s about the commitment to turn up on a Saturday to do it. The t-shirts are for attendance milestones, not time and that’s what I really like about it. It’s encouraging and achievable for everyone.”

Conversation with other human beings is another drawcard, says Carly.

“Van life can be isolating and as much as I love all the time I get to spend with my family, I especially enjoy having the opportunity to meet and chat with other people, parkrun has been really good for that.

“That’s been a cool thing for us, as we didn’t have a consistant tribe while on the road.”


Driving around the North Island going to different running events they’ve found their people. At first it was people wearing Running on the Spectrum Greatest Virtual Run tops, and then it was parkrunners.

“parkrun is a massive tribe,” Lee says.

“What I’ve noticed is we run Greytown and see people there. Then you go to Anderson Park or Flaxmere and you see someone who was at Greytown. It’s a cycle of people going to different events.”

Carly loves the personal welcome at the smaller events.

“We stand out as a family of five.”

Pre-Covid achieving their 50 milestones was a goal for 2020.

But with ever decreasing weekends this year that goal has slipped away.

We met in Rotorua ahead of the Rotorua Marathon – one of the few events to go ahead this year. It was Carly’s turn to run.

“parkrun is one of the few things that’s free and easy. We started running thinking we just needed shoes… but then you find yourself buying all the fancy gear and $30 socks! Even little Nath has some pretty cool running kit now”.

Follow Carly and Lee on Instagram at @RunnersNZ, where you can read other runners’ stories.


Mark Malone – The Man With The Most Runs

In the history of parkrun in New Zealand there have been 19 occasions when Mark Malone hasn’t recorded a parkrun finish.

One of those was the week before he ventured down to the Lower Hutt parkrun course.

The others have been when he’s volunteered or the rare event of a clash.

Not only does Mark have 406 running finishes to his name – the highest of anyone in New Zealand who started their parkrun life in the country – but he also has 132 volunteer credits.

“I knew [Lower Hutt parkru] was starting because I read about it in the local newspaper. Usually I run trails going up and down the hills but I thought I’d go and do a timed run on a flat surface.

“There was another event on the day it started so I went down to the second one.”

First impressions

“I was early for that first one. I wandered over the finish area where Richard [McChesney, founding event director] was setting up. I asked him how it all worked.

“I did the run and then went home. I didn’t go to the cafe, though I do these days. I thought I could do better, so I went back the next week to try again.

“After a few weeks in a row I thought I should volunteer. I try to make a habit of things, I thought here’s a good reason to get up on a Saturday morning. That’s why I kept going at the start.”

The volunteering has been habitual as the running. Mark has carried out 11 distinct volunteer roles on at least 132 occasions.

And then there were two

By the end of May 2012 – and only a few weeks of parkrunning – Mark’s wife Shelley registered for her barcode.

She’s now completed 360 parkruns at 14 different events, she’s one of the women with the highest number of parkruns to her name.

Shelley Malone

“Back then I’d go along, run and then go home fairly quickly.

“Then Richard asked me to be a run director while he and Kent (Stead) were both going to be away.

“He said to me that I was quick enough to run and still run direct (in the days when you could – editor) so I should do it.

“I had about a week’s training and then they were both away and had to do it by myself.

“I’m into computers so I could handle all the technical stuff.”

And in Mark’s own words “it’s become a habit”.

“I’m not anal about doing it every week but if we can do it then we will. There’s only a few times when we’ve not run a parkrun due to other events being held the same day or being overseas.”

Keeping company

What makes it habitual is the company, he says. Whereas in the past he’d go straight home, now he goes to the cafe afterwards.

“A year or so ago I started working from home so it’s good to get out and see people. I’m a trail runner and I do a lot of trail running by myself, but parkrun is a more social way of running.”

Mark can often be found giving additional scanning support once he’s finished his run. It’s a role where you get to put faces to names and helpful from a run director perspective.

“It’s useful to know who people are so if things go wrong it’s easier to figure out. We video the finish too and it’s quite fun when you pull the video out.

“We’ve had a few funny things happen at the finish line – a woman let go of her buggy and it rolled into the video camera and knocked it over.

“When people do a volunteer role it’s good for them to get an understanding of how it works; it helps for their next run.”

While Mark won’t be the first runner in New Zealand to achieve his 500 shirt, when the occasion rolls around (potentially August 2022), he will be the first parkrunner of New Zealand origin (as in, started his parkrunning in New Zealand) to do so.

Some stats*:

Barcode: A280578

Number of parkruns: 406

Total parkrun distance: 2030km

Most parkruns in a year: 54, 2018, 2019

Total volunteer roles: 132

Total distinct volunteer roles: 11

*As of September 22


Kent Stead: North Island ambassador

“So many people from different walks of life have a common thread with parkrun, we’ve always got something to talk about.”

Kent Stead has been around parkrun since it’s very first event in 2012, so he’s got plenty to talk about.

He’s now a parkrun ambassador, having spent time as a run director and event director. With 255 runs to his name (and 22 events visited) he is well versed in all things parkrun.

“My wife and I used to live in Lower Hutt. We saw in the local newspaper a plug for parkrun, a free 5km.

“We’d both been doing a bit of running. We’d lived in Oxfordshire in the UK for three years and parkrun was just up and running but we’d never come across it.

“We went along and it was their first event and we got hooked. We started going relatively regularly.

“When Richard McChesney had to head back to the UK I stepped up and became a run director. He returned and shared responsibility for a while until he went back permanently.”

A new parkrun

After Kent had completed “50 or 60 parkruns” he and his family moved to Auckland due to a new job.

At that time there was only Cornwall Park or Barry Curtis for parkrunning.

“I started doing parkrun as a runner at Cornwall Park, then Millwater started up, which was more convenient for us as we were on the North Shore.

“A friend of mine decided there needed to be another parkrun in Auckand. Mike Wilkinson and I went to school together, he was my best man. I gave him a hand to get Western Springs parkrun up and running.

“Then he and his wife Sally decided to move to the UK.”

Kent got involved with Western Springs parkrun as a run director in 2015.

At Western Springs

It was when Lian and Noel de Charmoy stepped down as country managers last year that he saw the ad for parkrun ambassadors.

“I thought it would be a new challenge and that I had something to offer.

“As parkrun ambassador I support a group of parkruns, those in Auckland, plus Whangarei and Foster.

“I’m there to support them if they need a hand with anything. The group of run directors are so knowledgeable and established that very rarely do I have to help them. It’s quite nice to not be tied to a single run and I can try to see them all regularly.

New events

“My primary role is supporting with new prospective runs. There are four or five working through the process of getting set up. One has ticked everything off and we hope to start in October.”

Owairaka parkrun will be near Western Springs. It’s been set up by Julie Collard, who has been run director at Western Springs for some time.

“This event is on her back door step. It’s really exciting.

“We’re also looking at parkruns in other parts of Auckland, such as Devonport, Browns Bay and Muriwai. They’re all at various stages.”

Whether they end up as events or not is dependent on a number of factors. It’s been two years since the prospect of a parkrun in Kaitaia came up but until the council gets the park developed that’s on hold for now.

At Hobsonville Point’s inaugural with the tourists from Lower Hutt parkrun.

Like other parkrun families, Saturday mornings for the Stead family mean parkrun.

“It’s definitely a family affair. My wife Amanda has run 172 parkruns and our daughters run too. Georgia, 7, has run 26 and Mahia, 9, has run 82.  Mahia recently presented a report on parkrun to Stuff’s Kea Kids News section.

“It was a struggle at first but it’s part of our Saturday mornings; it’s what we do. It’s such a great way to start the weekend, it’s such a social event.

“We’ve something in common with all these people that in a non-parkrun life you wouldn’t cross paths with, but Saturday mornings you’re long lost friends.”

Kent can normally be found at Western Springs, it’s his closest and “the girls like to hear the lions roaring” but he’s keen for more parkruns.

“I’ve seen photos and read about parkruns in Australia that are on the beaches, that would be fun. A parkrun in Abel Tasman would be good and Petone waterfront would be great on a nice day.”

To get a new parkrun off the ground click here.


The Born Again Runner

Most parkrunners will have seen that stunning vista of Mount Taranaki through Te Rewa Rewa Bridge. It’s an iconic image of parkrun in New Zealand.

When used by other parkrun countries it always garners comments from parkrunners wanting to know where it is so they can put it on their parkrun bucket list.

It’s just one such image by Andy Walmsley, one of parkrun New Zealand’s photography ambassadors.

“I’m a photographer by trade and have done a lot of events and sports photography,’ he says.

“I didn’t volunteer very much when we were in the UK because I wanted to run with my kids in the buggy and it was always my intention to catch up. When I saw the ambassador’s role advertised I knew it was the perfect role for me.”

The beginning

We’re going to wind this story back a bit, to when Andy started parkrunning in 2013.

At the time of writing (and the second pause) he’s on 124 parkruns at 14 different events.

Of these 124 he’s run 71 times at Heaton parkrun in Manchester and only 31 at the now famous East End parkrun in New Plymouth.

“I’d set up my own running group in Ramsbottom called Rammy Runners. I’d trained to be a leader in running fitness with UK Athletics and that was about beginning a group for those runners who were between being beginners to running clubs.

“Some people believed running clubs weren’t for them. There was a perception that running clubs were men in short shorts and running 20 miles. Rammy Runners was a one hour session with short running exercises, you didn’t have to worry about holding anyone up but you could still challenge yourself.”

One member of the group asked Andy if he had tried parkrun. He hadn’t but was intrigued so looked up his local – Heaton parkrun in Heaton Park – and went along the next Saturday. That was November 16, 2013.

“I absolutely loved it straight away. It was so closely aligned with what we were doing to get people enjoying running.

“I set my personal best at my second parkrun and it stayed there until the last parkrun I ran here before we went on pause.

“Most of my first 100 runs were pushing a buggy.”

His 50th parkrun was a celebration, he was about to turn 50 and invited 50 friends and family to join him at Heaton parkrun. They’d all pledged £50 for the Christie Hospital in memory of his mum who had died a few months earlier.


Despite living in a city with an abundance of parkruns Andy was a passionista for Heaton Park, which is the largest municipal park in Europe. Running with a buggy meant consideration for terrain had to be taken into consideration.

One of his most memorable events was when legendary runner Ron Hill completed 50 years of run streaking at Heaton parkrun, accompanied by Paul Sinton-Hewitt (who was running his Cowell event – 100th different parkrun).

He says he hopes to do more parkrun tourism as his two kids – Daisy (7) and Teddy (5) – get older, though his new ambassador role has already seen him visit three other parkruns in that capacity. They were Greytown Woodside Trail, Hamilton Lake and the inaugural Whanganui Riverbank.

It was when Daisy was months away from starting school that Andy and his wife Emily took a six month sabbatical – their settling in New Zealand is the result of an extended trip in 2016/2017.

“We thought it was our last chance to do anything like that. We visited both islands and loved it (and ran at three different parkruns). We felt at home in New Plymouth and decided to come here full time.

“Funnily enough, on that first trip we were at Hamilton Lake parkrun and met the Fosters from Lower Hutt parkrun.

“You strike up friendships at parkrun. You might meet for only 10 minutes over coffee but you make friendships that endure.

“It’s like a stamp of approval, being a parkrunner.

“If you surround yourself with positive people you will be a positive person. You’re onto a winner if you’re out of bed and doing something positive.”

East End

New Plymouth ticked a lot of boxes for the Walmsleys, except when they arrived in April 2018 there was no parkrun.

Naturally Andy contacted parkrun’s country managers at the time to see if he could get the ball rolling only to hear that plans were already afoot.

East End parkrun opened on September 22, 2018.

“East End is such a photogenic parkrun, especially when you’re lucky enough to get the mountain in the background.

‘It’s such an enjoyable role. I love how enthusiastic people are about parkrun. You see so many people enjoying it in so many different ways, whether it’s breaking the course record to the different ages.

“We have parkrunners aged from four to 86. It’s great to capture that and you don’t have to work hard to get a smile.

“Daisy picks up my phone and starts taking photos, we’ve got her her own camera now and she loves it.

“Some kids are brilliant runners but Daisy likes to take her time with running and walking. She’s run 15 parkruns but she loves the other aspects too. I’m delighted that she gets up every Saturday morning and she will marshal or take photos.

“I call myself a born again runner. If the football field wasn’t fit for football then we were made to do cross country so I’ve always associated running with being cold, wet and not playing football.

“ I didn’t run until I was in my 30s so I’m very wary, it’s easy to put people off things.”

Andy now leads a running group in New Plymouth called Tuesdays in Taradise. To join click here.

* Heaton parkrun is the long name for the event, it’s short name is Heaton Park. There are many different naming combinations in place.


The flight of the Scottairplane

They came about as a means to stand out from other runners and enable his wife to spot him a bit more easily.

But they’ve taken on a life of their own and can now be seen at parkruns up and down the country.

Scott tells us how the Scottairplanes took off (pun intended) pre-parkrun and how they have kept on soaring.

“I used to run a bit but got out of it with work and put on some weight. I’d started jogging again in Albany with a running group associated with the local Shoe Science store.

“About three or four years ago there was a Run Auckland Series in the winter.

“I’d entered an event at Western Springs. My wife Anna comes along to take photographs. She said she found it hard to pick me out in a bunch. The airplane was for her to spot me. The first time I went past the people around me were frowning ‘who’s that silly idiot’.

“Then I noticed that we all took ourselves far too seriously. The second time round I was playing around more, those frowns were turning into smiles.

“By the time we had gone around again three or four other people were doing them.

Scott doing what he does best.

“It started out as fun, for the sake of Anna taking photos. After that event some of my friends I run with kept on doing it. You can’t do it without smiling. It lifts the spirits of everyone.

“Make sure you have fun, smile and you’re enjoying being with the people you’re running with – the way to do that is to do airplanes together. It’s just gone viral.”

He says he’s not sure how the name came about but it’s stuck and now there’s a community group on facebook where people share airplanes from far and wide – including while walking in the Himalayas.

It’s a bit of a buzz for me, I’ll go to a parkrun now and see Scottairplanes.


His parkrun history goes back around the same time to joining the running group.

“I knew nothing about parkrun and one of the other runners asked if I’d done a parkrun yet. I didn’t know what it was. They explained it to me and said to come along one Saturday. 

“Most of them were going to the Western Springs event at that time.

“As soon as I went I was hooked. I thought it was amazing and was kicking myself that I didn’t know about it before then. Then I got a bit more obsessed with it and all the different challenges.

Millwater parkrun Scottairplanes

“My goal is to run all the events in New Zealand. I’m up to 25.

“Because parkrun is so fantastic for people in communities I want more parkruns to be open but at the same time I don’t want there to be too many to start yet because I’m so close!”

He says he loves everything about parkrun – the atmosphere and inclusivity for starters.

“I love that you can turn up and do it at your own pace. 5km is 5km”

Scottairplanes and parkrun

“Hobsonville Point sort of adopted it. It was previously an airforce base so it fits in there.

Hobsonville Point Scottairplanes

Andy Mears and Martin Harrap at Whangarei parkrun often do them. The Saturday before lockdown I went up there for my second time and they were right into it.

“I always say to people that you can’t do them without smiling.

“What I love about visiting other parkruns is you just have to turn up and you’re accepted straight away. You end up having coffee or breakfast with them and they’re offering you tips on where to go and what to do. The whole community is fantastic.

East End parkrun mass Scottairplanes

“I’m a Run Director at Hobsonville Point and I’ll usually get there early and introduce myself to the Run Director of the day. I don’t expect other parkruns to do them but it’s always fun when they do.”

Invercargill Scottairplanes

You can join in with the Scottairplane fun at any running event, photos are posted in this facebook group.


The Parallel Lives of Claire and Jackie

Earlier this month (August 2020), there was a post in the parkrun discussion group on Facebook about the first Bushy event prompting group members to comment on how they came to participate.

Claire Taylor, co-Event Director at Millwater parkrun, commented that she was introduced by her dad, Trevor Mason.

Then Jackie Hancock, Event Director at Pegasus parkrun, said she was introduced by her uncle, Trevor Mason.

Two UK women, both in New Zealand (one North Island, one South Island), both involved with parkrun to the same degree.

“Our lives have gone in such similar directions, it’s really strange,” says Claire.

“We’ve known each other our whole lives. I’m a year older and we’ve got photos of each other in our mum’s arms.”

Growing up

Jackie says their parents have been friends for decades, going back to their own youth.

“My mum and dad supported Trevor after his wife died so we’ve always called him Uncle Trevor. I’m Auntie Jackie to Claire’s two kids.”

The pair didn’t grow up together, but would see each other a few times a year. They both ended up in London doing teacher training and both did Camp America the same year.

“Neither of us knew the other had applied until we both turned up for orientation,” says Claire.

“We were at the airport the same day to leave for camp, but we didn’t go to the same one.

“I met Iain, my husband, in London, and he’s the reason I came over to New Zealand.

“Jackie and I got married the same year – such parallel lives.”

A Decision is Made

Jackie and her husband Simon decided to go to New Zealand for their honeymoon. By then Claire and Iain had made the decision to move – they had a year in New Zealand in 2003 and moved permanently in 2006.

“Claire marrying Iain was probably the first thing we heard about New Zealand and how lovely it was.

“We lived in London and wanted to move out of London so we got married in 2005 and in 2006 came out for a honeymoon and did a three week tiki tour of mostly the North Island.

“I’ve friends in Christchurch from Camp America so we included it on the trip. It was cold, wet and we got lost in the one-way system.

“We were at Hanmer Springs talking about living here and an Englishman there said it was the best thing you will ever do, we we filled in the forms that night.

“We moved here in 2008 and went straight to Claire’s house. We had a couple of weeks there before moving south.

“Earthquakes aside, it’s the best decision we’ve ever made. Then Uncle Trevor came to visit in 2016.”

Claire’s First parkrun

Wind back a couple of years to September 2014 when Claire returned to the UK for her sister’s wedding.

“By then I was approaching 40 and was a bit overweight and unfit so I joined Weight Watchers and lost 18kg and then did the Couch 2 5K programme.

“I’d just finished the programme by the time I got home.

“My dad really enjoyed running. He told me about this new thing that had just started at Kesgrave.

“I’d never done an organised 5km before. I didn’t have any proper running clothes. we went along and I crossed the finish line with him. It was their second event. I loved it.

“Dad said they were all over the world so we looked up one near home and found Millwater had started the same weekend.

“I didn’t go and I didn’t go but then I went over and introduced myself. They were lovely people.

“Then I finally went along and for three years in a row I won the female points prize – not for speed but for attendance. I felt like I was finally achieving in something. I’d never been sporty.

“I’ve just carried on parkrunning and it’s become a huge part of my life.

“The event directors trained me up as a results processor in 2015 – they’ve since moved away – and I’ve been the event director’s wingman since as he doesn’t do social media. Just after the first lockdown he told me he’d made me co-event director, so here we are.”

Jackie’s First parkrun

Back to January 9, 2016 and Trevor is visiting Jackie.

“He’s parkrun mad. He made us drive to Hagley, because Pegasus hadn’t yet started, so we did Hagley parkrun as our first.

“I think I moaned and whinged my entire way around. It was slow and painful, but then Geoff started Pegasus up here and we kind of thought that because it was a kilometre from our door that we couldn’t avoid it.

“Simon is more of a runner than I am but we went to the first one.

“We were saying we’re not going to get involved, we’re not going to go every week, not going to volunteer lots, famous last words! But we love it.

“We love the community and where we run is beautiful. It’s a beautiful parkrun and everyone says that about their home parkrun.

“Uncle Trevor thought it was great. I think he was really pleased. We’ve been up a few times to Auckland and run Millwater with Claire.

“I think Uncle Trevor likes the fact that parkrun is encouraging us to meet up, not that we need an excuse. It gets us running together, which is cool.”

Sharing The Love

Claire says that parkrun is now a big part of her life, she’s scheduled weekends away to coincide with running a new event and she seizes every opportunity if on holiday in a parkrun location.

She’s delved into the parkrun podcasts since the initial lockdown and is planning which other events she’d like to do, including a trip to Bushy the next time she’s back in the UK.

There was a run in Sydney when on a girls’ weekend and she’s ticked off nine New Zealand events to date.

Meanwhile Jackie is spreading the parkrun love with other family members.

“We did a parkrun with Uncle Trevor when we went back to the UK. I made my whole family do Thetford parkrun. There was my mum, dad, sister, two nieces and nephews, auntie, two cousins, my friend Marie and three of her five children and another auntie and uncle as well.

“My dad goes to one locally occasionally but he’s more of a cyclist than a runner. My sister now goes to a parkrun in Gloucester.

“We went to Bushy and Simon had talked to one of his colleagues at work about it and discovered his cousin was involved with the core team – she was RD the day we went.

“My mother-in-law has done one at Medina (Isle of Wight) and I got my best friend doing one with me. She came her and did Pegasus. Shes at Kapiti Coast about two minutes from the Kapiti Coast parkrun.

“If it hadn’t been for Uncle Trevor I don’t think it would have been on our radar so much. With Claire getting more and more involved at Millwater that probably would have helped with our decision to go along.”

Got a parkrun story?

Message Alison


Andy Mears – the people’s parkrunner

For someone whose home parkrun is the most northerly, Andy Mears has travelled far and wide, popping up at parkruns to celebrate other parkrunners’ milestones.

He’s been present at Whangarei parkrun since its launch in February 2016.

“Around that time I was jogging around the Whangarei Heads area, when a visiting friend  from the Manchester area of the UK suggested I should get into parkrun and my response was ‘Whatever is that?’.

“I’d never heard of it so I looked it up and found the event director Jim (Kettlewell) was advertising that it was about to start in Whangarei. I couldn’t believe it! 

“I went to the first one and the rest, as they say, is history. I’ve been going ever since, whether it’s running or volunteering.”

At Whangarei parkrun with Steve Darby (blue 500 shirt), run director Martin Harrap (red 50 shirt) and present event director Ron Crowhurst (yellow shirt).

Now he’s been parkrunning for four years he’s got to know a lot of parkrunners from various parkruns, discovering ironically some time afterwards that several runners at Whangarei’s inaugural were visitors from Lower Hutt. 

“Everyone at the inaugural were very friendly. I didn’t realise how many people there were because it was the inaugural.

“When I look back now, knowing that, there are people who have become friends and contacts, like the Lower Hutt mob. The over-riding thing is the friendliness.”

parkrun tourism

Andy is currently on 30 events, he’s run in four countries and on both New Zealand islands.

Andy (left) with Hannah Oldroyd and Geoff Macmillan at Pegasus parkrun.

As an expat Brit he’s taken advantage of trips back to the UK by visiting parkruns close to his old home – and his wishlist is growing.

But what most people tend to know about are the mishaps that have befallen Andy along the way.

“There was a trip down to Wellington where we ran one official parkrun and then drove to the others for freedom runs the following day. 

“The idea was that I’d follow the bus but then I thought I could find my way using GPS and I did all right until the lunchtime stop. 

“I was going to make my own way to Palmerston North but sadly GPS sent me the wrong way. I ended up in Upper Hutt!” 

Then there was the time he was in Cornwall with the intention of running Eden Project.

“I checked at the last minute and Eden Project parkrun  was cancelled for that day .. the nearest alternative was Lanhydrock, but at least I can say I’ve run one of the hardest parkruns in England. 

“Another mishap was on the Isle of Wight and didn’t know they had summer and winter courses. Narrowly missed turning up to completely the wrong location!” 

“And when I went to St Andrews parkrun in Scotland I didn’t know they started later. I got there expecting a 9am start and thought I’d got something completely wrong and then people finally started showing up – they start at 9.30am in Scotland. 

“And then I thought I was  being clever running three countries in three weeks with parkruns in England, Scotland and Wales. But they’re all considered the same country – the UK.” 

St Albans parkrun, UK

A reason to run

Regardless of the mishaps, one thing is for certain – Andy loves running parkrun and meeting other parkrunners.

“It’s the competition with yourself. However you feel you just turn up and do it – and I love it.

“I’ve discovered now that because I’ve run a few New Zealand courses I’m lucky that if I turn up the chances are high that there will be someone I know there.” 

Andy went to the inaugural at Palmerston North and has followed that up with running at their anniversary events also.

When in Australia visiting friends he went to Mosman parkrun and people there already knew to expect him.

He travelled down to Rotorua to celebrate my 100th parkrun, to Hamilton to celebrate Dean King‘s 250th and to Pegasus to celebrate Steve Darby’s 500th parkrun.

“Except I travelled to what would have been Steve’s 500th but he’d got himself injured so when I first got there it was his 493rd parkrun. I went back for his 500th.

“I love the people attached to the whole thing.”

Doing a Scottairplane at Whangarei parkrun


There are many parkruns on his wishlist for a variety of reasons – Fountains Abbey in the UK for its scenery, Wycombe Rye because he’s struck up a rapport through his lockdown report writing, Woolacombe to relive family holidays and many more. 

“I want to get to 50 different parkruns. Running all in New Zealand isn’t a must for me – as soon as I do it I know they’ll add new ones. When you live at the top of the North Island it’s challenging.”

As for where he’d like a new parkrun to pop up – Kerikeri, Kaitaia or even Mangawhai or Ruakaka to give him nearish events to run as an alternative to Whangarei.

In his new apricot shirt to remember his friend Amanda who died from cancer. “She always laughed and said I suffered from OCD where parkrun was concerned.”

From parkrun to ultras

Mark O’Sullivan tells us how parkrun has changed not only his life, but also that of his family – all six of them.

“If it hadn’t been for parkrun I’d still be 120kg and on the couch.

“I’ve been to places I’ve never been to before.

“Last year I competed in the New Zealand track champs and I managed to get a bronze medal. I’ve also run all three of the Tarawera Miler races.”

You could say that parkrun has changed Mark O’Sullivan’s life. That would probably be an understatement.

The 48-year-old from Lower Hutt got into parkrun after his older brother Martin suggested it.

“He’d just started going and was talking about it and trying to encourage us to get out of the door and get a bit fit.

“At the time my son Noah had started playing rugby. He was really good at it and was doing well but what was holding him back was hit fitness. He was pretty solid and I could see my own life being relived by my child.

“When I was at school I was the fat kid, the slow kid and unfit. As an adult that had got even worse.”

“When you see that in your children…”

Their first event

Martin encouraged him to give Lower Hutt parkrun a go and on September 22, 2012, he finished in 45:26.

“In 2012 I was fat and 40. I didn’t do it for me but to stop my children from becoming me.”

They lived 1.5km from the parkrun, and because he “didn’t have a clue” about what to expect, the family walked the 1.5km to the start.

“I didn’t want to drive down in case we couldn’t find a park, so we walked down, which wasn’t appreciated.

“Me and Noah weren’t the fastest [they finished in 80 and 81 out of 81 finishers] but we had fun. That was the start of it.

“Using parkrun we all got ourselves a lot fitter. Michael set his pb at 24:55 and I couldn’t keep up with him. Then I thought if I wanted to run with my fastest son I’d better get my act together and get faster myself.

“If I do something and don’t perform what I expect of myself I want to do better. When you’re fat and 40 and can’t run the whole way then I needed to fix that.”

Somewhere along the way he decided to run further.

From 5km to 160km

He ran three half marathons in the same year, all in 2:28, “which was really odd”.

Then he found out about the Tarawera Trail Marathon and 50km. It took runners from geysers at Te Puia in Rotorua, to Hot Water Beach on Lake Tarawera.

“I went along to an info evening and that’s where I came across Squadrun. I ended up sending them an email saying something about I don’t know now if I can do it but I want to do this event.”

That was 2015. Since then he’s run, by his reckoning, 19 ultras, half of which are 100km or more. He’s the only person to have run all three of the Tarawera Miler events (160km) and he’s signed up again for the 2021 event.

“It’s my happy place. It’s like the most epic adventure and all because of parkrun. If it hadn’t been for parkrun I’d still be 120kg and on the couch.”

parkrun has taken him and his family to places they would never have imagined they’d visit, thanks to parkrun tourism.

He’s also participated in events he’d never have considered, like the 24 hour track championships where he completed 428 laps, 171km, and won a New Zealand Athletics bronze medal.

“parkrun is a family thing now. I don’t often run fast, I usually run it hand in hand with Rebecca (8). For almost all the 5km she’s attached to me like a limpet.

“I don’t make the children run, quite often my boys will walk. The only family rule is, and it’s not really a rule, we don’t mind how you get to the end but we’re all doing parkrun.

“Sometimes we vote on where we’re going to go.”

Family adventures

Two years ago it was a choice of attending the Tauranga parkrun inaugural, or running at the Waitomo Caves Trail Run.

“We figured out we could fit both in but we took it to a family vote – they all said they wanted to run parkrun and then go and run the 11km.”

There’s also been the Blue Lake 24 Hour event, where participants complete laps of Tikitapu (5.5km).

The specific event Mark entered there was a lap an hour, every hour for 24 hours.

“You have to be pretty stubborn and when things go wrong you have to keep on going. There was no way I was going to turn up and not do it. The last person with me left at hour 14 and I was on my own for the rest of the event. But I don’t quit.

“I’d set the kids a challenge, if you want to run a 50k ultra you can, if you can stay with me and do a lap an hour for 10 hours, that’s 55km, nine laps is only 49.5k, and although it’s close, it’s not 50. After four laps three out of the four kids had to stop for various reasons but I had to follow the rules to finish.

“Noah was in charge of the other two who needed to stop, and Daniel hung in with me every single lap. He did 10 laps with me, that’s 55km in 9:55, at 9-years-old.

“In the meantime, the other three kids, just like their Dad, weren’t going to give up. They couldn’t keep up with me and Daniel, (Rebecca was only 6), but they all did their 55km.”

This also gave Daniel the fastest kid ultra, so a short time later, the first chance he got, Noah set out on the Taupo 50km to take the title back with 8:42.

Michael then took this over at Taupo with a 7:51 last year.

The kids

More about the kids.

Rebecca was the youngest in New Zealand to get her 100 shirt, aged 6.

Michael was the youngest to get to 250.

Then when Daniel achieved his 250 he took that mantle.

Rebecca will take that title when she reaches 250, at the time of writing she’s on 198.

“Rebecca’s probably done another 100 in the pushchair, which don’t count.

“All her life we’ve been running. She wanted to run but you have to be four to have a barcode.

“The weekend after she turned four she said she wasn’t going to go in the pushchair, she wanted to run. We were under an hour, which for a four-year-old is really good.”

Memorable runs

“At Lower Hutt me and Allan Hartley were about the same pace for a wee while and he’d often beat me.

“I finished quite fast but I breathe really loud when I’m running fast and tired.

“I knew he would hear me coming and he would beat me to the finish. I held my breath for the last 50m and passed him on the line.”

“Another time Joce Jones had asked me to pace her to try to beat 29 minutes.

“She ran really well, the pacing was on point. We were on track to break 29 but it was just a little bit too much and she was slowing down towards the finish.

“We got to the line and just as we crossed the line she fainted into my arms – talk about giving it everything she had. It was a heroic run. When she got her result it was 29 flat. It was fantastic.

“Another run that’s memorable is when I ran at Pegasus parkrun with Martin. We went down with Chrissy.

“I was running pretty quick. There’s some great photos of us running together. I led the way then started to slow down.

Mark leading Martin at the Pegasus inaugural. Photo: Nneka Okonta

“Martin was prodding me along. Then we got to the last kilometre and I found my legs again. I managed to finish with a PB of 22:17 and beat Martin home as well.

“The highlight wasn’t so much the time, it was running with my brother, not beating him.”


Amy Crawshaw – 100 Club

At 11 Amy Crawshaw became the youngest runner at Puarenga parkrun to join the 100 club. She celebrated her milestone run last weekend.

“I went to my first parkrun when I was around 7, but I didn’t run. After about seven visits I got my barcode so I could take part.”

Amy and her parents started running at Puarenga parkrun but after 13 runs moved to Australia in February 2018.

Running with dad Tim at Puarenga.

Wagga parkrun became their new home parkrun and it was there that she ran another 30 times (with one run at Mount Ainslie).

In January 2019 the family moved to Palmerston North, and so joined another parkrun family. It was there that she ran another 49 times – there were trips back to Rotorua and Puarenga parkrun, plus a visit to Anderson parkrun in Napier.

“I like Puarenga the most, because it’s interesting geothermally and because I got most of my PBs there,” she says.

She has several memorable parkrun experiences from her first 100.

“The time that I ran with my dog Smokey and he ran so fast that he looked like a flying carpet.

“Also when I ran parkrun in 29 mins with Mum’s friend and she bought me a parkrun wristband.

“The people are really nice and I enjoy meeting the dogs that run too.”

Volunteering with dog Smokey

“Doing parkrun helps when you are doing school cross country, it builds your stamina and makes you fit, you could even get a six pack!”

Her parents, Clare and Tim are also keen parkrunners. Clare has 128 parkrun finishes and Tim is on 137 parkruns. They sometimes give Amy challenges.

“Mum and Dad had promised me $50 if I could get under 30 minutes, so I did!

“Also, after 98 parkruns I finally beat my Dad and got a PB of 25.09 at the same time. Now he owes me a horse trek.

“At my 100th I got given a box of chocolates, which I shared with other parkrunners. I want to dress up as a dalmatian for my 101st parkrun.” 


James O’Sullivan

James is one of the few parkrunners to have completed every course in New Zealand. He is the younger brother of Trent and son of Martin, all countrymen.

Barcode: A363227

Home parkrun: Lower Hutt

What was your first away parkrun?

Millwater inaugural event. I flew with dad to Auckland to attend their first parkrun event. Just after the start there was a thunderstorm and we got soaking wet.

What led you to parkrun tourism?

I wanted to complete all courses, get to see New Zealand placed we hadn’t visited before.

What’s the earliest you’ve got up to travel to an event and where was it?

4am to travel to Hawke’s Bay to attend Flaxmere & Anderson Park

James with his brother Trent at Barry Curtis parkrun.

What has been your furthest trip for a parkrun?

We had a long drive to Gisborne. We also went for a South Island holiday, drove down to Invercargill arriving Friday. We ran at Invercargill on the Saturday then spent a week in Wanaka before driving home. Other trips included Blenheim inaugural which we attended then flew direct to Auckland and had a week holiday up north running at Whangarei the following weekend.

Running at Greytown Woodside Trail parkrun.

Can you tell us about a memorable parkrun experience in New Zealand?

Me, Trent and dad ran at Lower Hutt. A young person who had previously visited Lower Hutt had passed away so we wore a picture of him on our shirts as a memory.

Running to remember Jordan Castleton.
James in his Cass Castleton World Tour shirt from when Cass (and his son) visited Lower Hutt, running in memory of Cass’s son Jordan who died aged 15.

I also got my PB on my 100th run. I trained really hard and dad ran with me to help with pacemaking.

Running to a PB on his 100th run.
After finishing 7th at Balclutha.

Where in New Zealand would you like a parkrun and why?

Upper Hutt or Wellington City because they don’t have one and it is close to home.

Note from Martin O’Sullivan, James’s dad.

James has type 1 diabetes, epilepsy and he is on the autism spectrum. parkrun is great for his health, when things go wrong they can go very wrong as he ended up in hospital for a couple of days last year.


NZ’s most prolific tourists

Go to any New Zealand inaugural parkrun and you’re guaranteed to meet members of the O’Sullivan family.

At the Whanganui Riverbank inaugural on July 4 all 10 of the touring O’Sullivans crossed the finish line (and they returned for week two).

They range in age from 8 to 50 plus. Four of them are also Countrymen (having completed all 30 courses).

They’ve been involved since week 5 of Lower Hutt parkrun back in 2012, when Martin O’Sullivan gave it a go.

Gradually the rest of the family has registered for their barcodes.

The beginning

“I’d been playing football all my life but I’d started enjoying it less.

“My friend from work, her son was in Year 10 at school, was out of shape and needed to improve his focus. She felt it was a good idea to start parkrun. He was there week 1.

“She told me about it and asked if I would go along and give him some company. That’s how I got started, by mentoring and motivating him.

“I’ve got teenage boys (Trent and James O’Sullivan, now 20 and 17) and sometimes they listen to other people more than their parents. Kemp [Engelbretsen] ended up doing 80 parkruns but as he got older he found other interests.

“My two boys started running too, I got them started soon after my first one. They lived down in Blenheim for three years so didn’t attend parkrun often, prior they only ran with me every second week when still in Wellington. They’ve not run as many as the others in our family as a result.

“When they were with me it was non-negotiable. It’s something we’ve continued to do with the others.

The first sibling

“With my siblings and getting them involved… I was into mountainbiking and running. They were into playing bowls and drinking. They said “how come you spend more time with your friends than us” so I said if they became more active then maybe we’d spend more time together.

“Mark and one of his kids turned up one morning. Then the rest of his family got into it.”

“By Christmas he’d not missed a run and now it’s something we do every week. We use it for family get-togethers.”

There are five O’Sullivan siblings – Martin, Michael, Chrissy, Mary and Mark.

Between them they’ve run 1072 parkruns at the time of writing [July 7, 2020].

It would be even higher had Michael, Martin’s twin, completed more than the solitary parkrun he did while in Dunedin on holiday with Martin.

“Once Mark was on board he got his kids going and his son Michael would have been the youngest then to get the 250 milestone. These kids were at parkrun in their prams.

Mark doesn’t quite remember his introduction the same as Martin.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s what he said, it sounds like him,” Mark said.

“What I recall about us starting parkrun is he had just started going and was talking to us about it and trying to encourage us to get out of the door and get a bit fitter.”

It started with their eldest, Noah, getting into rugby.

“He was doing well but his fitness was holding him back. He was pretty solid and I could see my own life being relived by my child.”

You can read more about Mark’s parkrun transformation in another post, but suffice to say, once his family got running they all went.

Rebecca, their youngest, has the fewest official parkrun finishes to her name, only because she was in the buggy until she was four and unable to get an official result.

And then there were three

Chrissy joined the family at parkrun on Christmas Day 2012. At the time of writing she’s only a couple of runs away from achieving her 250 milestone.

“Mark is all about getting everyone into everything. ‘Come to India’, ‘go on a cruise’. He pesters you until you do it. Martin is a bit more cruisy.

“My first parkrun was Christmas Day, with Mark, Jo and their kids. As the kids got old enough they joined in. Rebecca was in the push chair and when she turned four she started running or walking them.

“We used to get a lot of comments. Bruce McCardle (Lower Hutt and now Greytown regular) at some point coined us the O’Sullivan Travelling Circus.”

Chrissy’s first away parkrun was to Porirua on January 1, 2014.

Turns out her siblings had a New Year’s resolution to run all six of the New Zealand courses, she discovered that on a trip to Queenstown, which included a drive to Dunedin just for parkrun.

With that achieved by March the O’Sullivans began their affinity with parkrun tourism.

“It’s got me out walking regularly. I’ve got a bad back so running is out of the question for me but I might run the last 50m or so over the finish line.

“There’s the aspect of getting out and doing 5km every week. As well as that there’s the social aspect of meeting these people every week and really enjoying the company.

“I keep telling mum we’ll get her fit so she can do it but she’s 82 so it might be a bit far.

“The thing about parkrun with the family is the kids know from the start that it’s not optional, it’s what we do on a Saturday.”

Mark says their mum, Colleen, might not have yet finished a parkrun, but she (and her late husband Michael, who died in June) were very much part of the parkrun family as they were always present for milestones.


“The question I get asked the most is how do we keep the kids doing it now they’re teenagers,” says Martin.

“For me it’s always about keeping it fun. It’s also something we’ve always done as a family and as a wider family.”

The O’Sullivan’s tips on parkrun and children:

  • Make it fun
  • Include it in holidays
  • Make it family time
  • Communicate expectations

“My expectations are we go to parkrun,” says Martin.

“There have been times when we’ve been at home and it’s been pouring with rain so I’ve given them the option of running or not.

“But if we’re at an inaugural the expectation is they complete it.”

Mark says the same. “We don’t mind how they get to the end, but we’re all doing parkrun. Quite often my boys will walk it.”

At the Whanganui Riverbank inaugural on July 4, 2020.

Whanganui Riverbank parkrun inaugural from left: Trent O’Sullivan (161 parkruns at 30 courses), Daniel O’Sullivan (258/21), Jo O’Sullivan (234/22), (in green) Michael O’Sullivan (270/21), Mark O’Sullivan (342/23), Noah O’Sullivan (274/21), (front in pink) Rebecca O’Sullivan (198/17), Chrissy O’Sullivan Robertson (249/30), Martin O’Sullivan (379/30) and James O’Sullivan (161/30).

Not pictured: Mary Walker (101/2)


Paul Gordon

Paul is one of the few parkrunners to have completed every course in New Zealand.

Barcode: A293227

Home parkrun: Lower Hutt

What was your first away parkrun?

Cornwall Park. It was the only other option at that stage.

What led you to parkrun tourism?

Fun, travelling to other places.

What’s the earliest you’ve got up to travel to an event and where was it?

5am to get to Palmerston North parkrun.

What has been your furthest trip for a parkrun?

In New Zealand Invercargill or Whangarei. Overseas, Frankfurt from the south of France, or Copenhagen from the UK.

I ran Amager Strandpark in Copenhagen. It was the coldest run I have ever done with a bleak northerly wind off the sea. But the welcome was very warming. I helped that the briefing was in a shed.

Can you tell us about a memorable parkrun experience in New Zealand?

Running Porirua on a very rainy Christmas Day, in an inflatable Santa on a reindeer suit. It had deflated by halfway and ran most of it in what was basically a big sweaty plastic bag flapping around my body.

Where in New Zealand would you like a parkrun and why?

West Coast – with whitebait fritters in place of cheese scones afterwards.


Trent O’Sullivan

Trent, 20, is one of the few parkrunners to have completed every course in New Zealand. He is the eldest son of Martin O’Sullivan.

Barcode: A314658

Home parkrun: Lower Hutt

What was your first away parkrun?

Kapiti Coast on the New Year’s Day event back in 2016 since we were up there during the Christmas holidays.

What led you to parkrun tourism?

It’s a great opportunity to see other places in New Zealand.

What’s the earliest you’ve got up to travel to an event and where was it?

4am for multiple different events around New Zealand. Places that come to my mind are Auckland and Whangarei.

At Millwater parkrun.

What has been your furthest trip for a parkrun?

The trip to the Invercargill parkrun

With James at Invercargill parkrun.

Can you tell us about a memorable parkrun experience in New Zealand?

Breaking my Lower Hutt PB on my 100th parkrun milestone.

Where in New Zealand would you like a parkrun and why?

Upper Hutt. It would be a local one and it’ll add to my parkrun different events total.


Martin O’Sullivan

Martin is one of the few parkrunners to have completed every course in New Zealand.

Barcode: A291411

Home parkrun: Lower Hutt

What was your first away parkrun?

Porirua, closest course to Lower Hutt. This was New Year’s Day 2014.

What led you to parkrun tourism?

We had a New Year’s Resolution to complete all NZ courses.

We completed this goal by February 8 with trips to Dunedin, Hamilton Lake, Cornwall Park and Barry Curtis.

In June 2014 a parkrun tourism book was published by Debra Bourne. It had a segment dedicated to NZ tourists, six New Zealand based runners – Julia & Paul Gordon, Kemp Englebretsen, Andrew Capel, my sister Chrissy Robertson & myself had completed all NZ courses.

Over the next few months I ran in Australia at St Peters and Main Beach as well as the home of parkrun Bushy in England.

What’s the earliest you’ve got up to travel to an event and where was it?

I flew from Beijing China a couple of years ago landed at Heathrow, meeting New Zealand parkrun founder Richard McChesney and ran at the picturesque Yeovil Montacute in search of a Y as part of my completed Alphabet challenge.

Last year my boys and I woke at 3am drove to Glasshouse Mountain Conservation parkrun outside of Brisbane Australia. This completed their Staying Alive challenge – three parkruns starting with the letters B and G.

Martin (right) with Lower Hutt founder Richard McChesney and a world tourist at Yeovil Montacute parkrun, UK.

What has been your furthest trip for a parkrun?

I’ve flown from Auckland to Singapore where I have run at East Coast and West Coast parkruns, China to England on a few occasions running four courses in England.

Can you tell us about a memorable parkrun experience in New Zealand?

There has been plenty. The standout was when my boys Trent and James and my sister Chrissy went to Balclutha in the middle of winter. Shivering at the start line I was surprised to see only 11 starters.

It was the day after the school ball and most of the people who looked like athletes were volunteering. I told the boys it was a great opportunity to get a good placing.

I was lucky enough to finish 1st, Trent 3rd, James 7th and Chrissy who was tail walker was 11th, the best finish position for all of us. The other remarkable thing was all 11 athletes were the fastest in their age group that day

Where in New Zealand would you like a parkrun and why?

Stewart Island as I’ve never been there.

Lower Hutt parkrun in the early days when the kids did all the volunteer roles. Many of these kids have done over 100 runs now.

Christine O’Sullivan Robertson

Chrissy is one of the few parkrunners to have completed every course in New Zealand. She was tail walker at the inaugural Whanganui Riverbank parkrun.

Barcode: A408932

Home parkrun: Lower Hutt

What was your first away parkrun?

Porirua – New Year’s Day parkrun, it was close to home, and there was nothing happening at Lower Hutt.

Chrissy volunteering as Tail Walker at the inaugural Whanganui Riverbank parkrun.

What led you to parkrun tourism?

Ten days after my Porirua run I flew to Queenstown on the Friday morning for a short holiday with my brother.

That afternoon we drove to Dunedin for their inaugural parkrun, and that’s really when I consider my parkrun tourism started with a New Year’s Day resolution to tick off all the events. By mid-March I had achieved all 6 of them [editor’s note, these were Lower Hutt, Cornwall Park, Barry Curtis, Porirua and Hamilton Lake].

Chrissy (centre) at Dunedin with more O’Sullivans and the Gordons.

What’s the earliest you’ve got up to travel to an event and where was it?

3am for a 3.30am departure to drive to Hawkes Bay, for Flaxmere as well as Anderson parkruns.

What has been your furthest trip for a parkrun?

My greatest distance has been to Cairns but it was part of a holiday.

The longest distance to ONLY do parkrun, was flying to Melbourne on a Friday afternoon and driving two hours to Ocean Grove parkrun to get my alphabet “O”, then flying out of Melbourne at 1pm. Crazy 🙂

Can you tell us about a memorable parkrun experience in New Zealand?

Millwater inaugural in a storm. Thunder and lightning and stinging rain.

Or totally soaked to my skin at Barry Curtis during Cyclone Lusi then driving home to Wellington to stay ahead of the weather. Hard to choose between these two.

At Millwater with more O’Sullivans and other prolific parkrun tourists.

Where in New Zealand would you like a parkrun and why?

Another Hutt Valley or Wellington run would ease the pressure on Lower Hutt and give me a chance to tick off some Wilson Index numbers as well.

West Coast though would be amazing as I’ve never been there.

At Hagley parkrun.

Allan Hartley – The Man Behind the NZHL Deal

If it weren’t for Allan Hartley’s running mate getting injured, we might never have got so many other parkruns in New Zealand.

Back in 2012 Allan was the New Zealand Home Loans Lower Hutt franchise owner.

“I’d started running a bit of fitness about a year before the first parkrun. I did have a running buddy who had a sore ankle so I was trying to run by myself and there was no real motivation behind it.”

Then in April 2012 he saw an article in the Hutt News, there was to be a free 5km launching in Lower Hutt the following week.

“I thought it was bloody awesome and that NZHL needed to be involved. I ended up putting Richard (Lower Hutt event director at the time) in touch with our marketing manager and CEO at the time.

“Then one thing led to another when [founder] Paul Sinton-Hewitt came out. I met with him and made sure the other two met with him when he went to Auckland. Then I got out of the way.”

As a result NZHL formed a partnership that spanned seven years.

Allan has run a large number of his parkruns with his sons, here he’s with Hayden.

The initial deal involved covering the costs of up to four new parkruns a year. In the early days they also provided the 50 and 100 miestone shirts.

Three parkruns were started as a result of the NZHL sponsorship with Hamilton, Millwater and Blenheim all having a franchise owner involved from the get-go.

“I wasn’t surprised that the sponsorship happened. It was just a good grassroots thing to be involved with. NZHL were looking to sponsor something across New Zealand, they like to sponsor things that its people were involved in.”

Allan has ticked off 13 of New Zealand’s events, he had plans to visit several this year until the pause derailed that.

He’s run at 264 parkruns, with 235 at Lower Hutt.

Celebrating a double miestone.

So what was it about that first event that’s kept him coming back?

“I liked the fact there was a whole bunch of other people; that I wasn’t doing it alone.

“When it came along I thought it was motivating. Looking back it changed my whole weekend.

“I’d beaver away all week with work, then get to Saturday and blob out and do not a lot. But when you had to get up and go for a run at 8, it turned into ‘what can I do next’.

“My wife noticed a change to our whole weekend, I’d get more done. I loved it for them.”

Allan is now a sales manager with Quinovic, he sold his NZHL franchise at the end of 2018.

He’s now working on getting funding for a new Upper Hutt parkrun, so keep an eye out for news of that launch.

As lead bike volunteer, except on rollerblade – his mum ran with the buggy this day!

With Us Now – Nicola Forwood

With a four-year-old as a travel companion, Nicola Forwood added New Zealand to her parkrun country tally with a trip in 2017.

She’s probably best known in the parkrun world for being one half of the With Me Now podcast, a weekly unofficial parkrun tourism show, and previously co-presented the parkrun show.

Nicola is a member of the 500 club and has run at 144 different parkrun events in seven countries.

Nicola at her 500th parkrun. Poppy now has her 100 shirt.

In 2017 she visited New Zealand, taking in Cornwall parkrun and Blenheim with her daughter Poppy.

They have family in New Zealand, with Poppy’s uncle living in Auckland, but they only had two parkrundays in the country before flying on to Australia, a trip that resulted in Poppy achieving her J10 milestone with runs in four countries.

She picked Cornwall park after checking the volunteer roster. Jeff Parkinson was on the roster and as an expat Yorkshireman from the same running club – Hyde Park Harriers – she couldn’t pick a different event.

Jeff Parkinson is a long-time volunteer and runner at Cornwall parkrun.

“We met up with family as well, they don’t really do parkrun but Poppy hadn’t seen her grandparents for a long time.

“Four of her family members happened to be visiting so we met up with them all and afterwards we went to the cafe and had a catch up over a lamington. They did a great smoothie too.”

A post-parkrun smoothie and lamington.

She said Jeff then took her and Poppy to the beach to look out to Rangitoto Island and were kindly invited to Geoff’s home in the evening for a barbecue dinner.

The following weekend they were at Blenheim.

“The parkruns couldn’t have been more different!

Poppy at Blenheim parkrun, she and Nicola achieved their highest finishes.

“We were trying to decide between a parkrun in Wellington and Blenheim but travel arrangements meant Blenheim fitted into the trip much better. It was so different to Cornwall park.

“Cornwall felt like a UK parkrun, I couldn’t tell if it was because of Jeff with his Yorkshire accent or not, but in terms of set-up, number of participants and when people arrived, it felt like a UK parkrun.”

Poppy at Cornwall parkrun

“In contrast Blenheim felt like parkrun-light. We turned up by the start and finish area and there was no one there.

“It’s a small place, and our travel operator said there weren’t many places to stay in town, we needed a car really because it was really expensive in a taxi from where we stayed and the driver had no idea what parkrun was.

“We turned up half an hour early, there was no one about, not a soul. You know when you start to think you’re definitely in the wrong place, there’s no signs and not one person.

“By 7.45 I was a bit panicky, but then one or two runners showed up and then at five to the run director turned up, got the signs out and did a short briefing.”

One highlight was Nicola and Poppy’s highest parkrun finish due to the small field – 34 in all and they loved the beautiful out and back by the river.

Blenheim parkrun

So what tips would Nicola have for parkrun tourists, wherever they are travelling?

“Always contact the event teams. I don’t think I did for this trip, we had to replan things at the last minute because of the Kaikoura earthquake.

“I think people are worried to contact event teams and don’t want to cause any hassle but they’re excited to hear about visitors.

“Do your homework and speak to the people who know.

“The best thing as a tourist is we have this wonderful opportunity to spend time with the people from the local community who know everything about where you are. It’s invaluable.

“Speaking to people and them telling you where to go and what to do, there are loads of hidden spots.”

She said this paid off in Singapore, where Poppy achieved her J10 milestone.

“The community gave us some really amazing suggestions of where to go and what to do and as a result we had an incredible time.”

Another New Zealand trip is on the cards when the climate permits, this time there will be more parkruns to choose from.


Julia Gordon

Julia is one of the few parkrunners to have completed every course in New Zealand*.

Barcode: A293223

Home parkrun: Lower Hutt

What was your first away parkrun?

Cornwall Park

What led you to parkrun tourism?

We visit family in Auckland quite often so decided to run at another event. Didn’t really know what parkrun tourism was at that early stage.

What’s the earliest you’ve got up to travel to an event and where was it?

Up 4.15 am, left at 5am for Palmerston North inaugural.

What has been your furthest trip for a parkrun?

The furthest I have travelled especially to run parkrun, was to Japan in 2019.

My husband Paul was transiting through Tokyo after a trip to Europe, so decided to break his journey, and I flew from Wellington to join him.

At the run briefing for Futakotamagawa parkrun.

The goal was to run at Futakotamagawa parkrun, the first parkrun in Japan (there are now 17) and to experience a little of a city and culture totally new to us. We ran at event #10, and had a great time, the welcome as warm as any other parkrun worldwide.

We were travelling with non-running friends who we dragged along on our eventually successful quest to find the start of parkrun Bois du Boulogne It took three metro trips from central Paris, then a 1km walk.

Can you tell us about a memorable parkrun experience in New Zealand?

I loved my trip to the deep south specifically to run the Balclutha parkrun inaugural.

While the morning was cold and misty, the team were warm and welcoming, in this small Otago town that I wouldn’t have otherwise visited!

From left: Nneka Okonta, Paul Gibbons, Brent Foster, Paul Gordon and Julia Gordon at the Balclutha inaugural, May 5 2018.

You can learn so much about your own country when parkrun touring!

The course took us over the historic Clutha Bridge, crossing the mighty Clutha, NZ’s second longest river, which flows 320km from Lake Wanaka (the home of yet another great parkrun) to the ocean.

We stayed two nights at Owaka and fitted in some tourism in the Catlins, an amazing part of the country I had never been before; visiting Nugget Pt Lighthouse, Cathedral Caves, Curio Bay, Waipapa Pt Lighthouse and the southernmost point of the South Is, Slope Pt….and I found myself there, all because of a parkrun trip!

Where in New Zealand would you like a parkrun and why?

The West Coast of the South Island (maybe Westport, Greymouth, or even Hokitika), because there are no parkruns in that very different part of the country.

At the Hobsonville Point inaugural on May 18 2019.

*Correct at the time of publication


Dean King

Dean is one of the few parkrunners to have completed every course in New Zealand.

Barcode: A747098

Home parkrun: Hamilton Lake

At Hamilton Lake parkrun.

What was your first away parkrun?

Cornwall- family trip to see a show in Auckland

What led you to parkrun tourism?

The ability to combine family holidays and weekends away with parkrun. Now it is a wonderful way to explore different parts of New Zealand and further afield. Amazing memories of people, places and parkrun.

What’s the earliest you’ve got up to travel to an event and where was it?

That’s a tough one as I’m habitually early. Lucca parkrun in Italy last year probably. We travelled from Pisa on the train and then walked from the station. Sometime after 4am.

At Lucca parkrun.

What has been your furthest trip for a parkrun?

Chateau de Pierre de Bresse, France

Can you tell us about a memorable parkrun experience in New Zealand?

Lower Hutt parkrun, August 2014. My wife won a radio competition for a weekend in Central Wellington.

I asked if someone could pick me up to go to Lower Hutt parkrun. Tony Ting collected me and dropped me off again afterwards at our accommodation.

That was really kind. My wife retells the story of our romantic weekend away with me disappearing to parkrun…

Where in New Zealand would you like a parkrun and why?

Nelson, a beautiful place and I hope one pops up there.


Brent Foster

Brent is one of the few parkrunners to have completed every course in New Zealand.

Barcode: A359465

Home parkrun: Lower Hutt

What was your first away parkrun?

Porirua, we decided as a family to try a new parkrun. We decided the night before.

What led you to parkrun tourism?

In early 2016 a friend decided to attend the inaugural event at Whangarei. I tagged along and the rest as they say, is history.

What’s the earliest you’ve got up to travel to an event and where was it?

3am, we drove to Anderson parkrun in Napier.

What has been your furthest trip for a parkrun?


Can you tell us about a memorable parkrun experience in New Zealand?

A trip to Balclutha’s inaugural. We drove from Dunedin to Owaka, tripped around the Catlins, had some great company from fellow tourists, The morning of parkrun was stunning, misty and cool along an awesome course.

At the Balcutha inaugural, May 5 2018.

Where in New Zealand would you like a parkrun and why?

Chatham Islands, what a great trip over there it would be.


Paul Gibbons

Paul is one of the few parkrunners to have completed every course in New Zealand.

Barcode: A669962

Home parkrun: Hamilton Lake parkrun (I think – when I joined parkrun there were none local to me).

What was your first away parkrun?

My first parkrun of all was Barry Curtis. I was in Auckland picking up my now wife from the airport and she dragged me along.

What led you to parkrun tourism?

My wife / supremely better half Nneka Okonta introduced me to parkrun and parkrun tourism; I couldn’t think of a good excuse.

Paul (in apricot) at Palmerston North parkrun with Nneka (far right).

What’s the earliest you’ve got up to travel to an event and where was it?

3am to travel to Lower Hutt.

What has been your furthest trip for a parkrun?

We changed our London-Auckland flights to detour via Calgary, Canada to go to Nose Hill parkrun. They launched after we’d booked our flights.

Can you tell us about a memorable parkrun experience in New Zealand?

I saw my first 250 tee shirt at Pegasus inaugural and it was my first icy parkrun as well. The only time I’ve done parkrun with ice on the ground (benefit of living in Hawkes Bay!).

Where in New Zealand would you like a parkrun and why?

I’m looking forward to the new parkrun at Whanganui. I’d love a parkrun to start at Cape Reinga because I’ve never been to the extreme north of the country and it would inspire me to visit.


Nneka Okonta

Nneka is one of the few parkrunners to have completed every course in New Zealand.

Barcode: 20258

Home parkrun: Lower Hutt

What was your first away parkrun?

Delta parkrun, South Africa. I was going to South Africa for work, flying into Johannesburg. Naturally I asked if I could stay an extra night (at my own cost of course) so that I could be there for Saturday morning instead of in transit. Delta was the only parkrun in South Africa at the time so the choice was easy.

What led you to parkrun tourism?

It was definitely an accident. I was chasing my ’50’ tee shirt and didn’t want to miss any weeks.

So whenever I was travelling for work and away from home on a Saturday morning I would go to an away parkrun.

After I’d been doing this for a while I read an email the eponymous Cass Castleton (founder of parkrun World Tourists facebook page) wrote to parkrun UK talking about his mission to do a parkrun in every country that has one.

I realised I’d covered all the parkrun countries outside Europe already (I was based in the UK at the time) and thanks to all that work travel I had plenty of airmiles…so I thought I would join in!

What’s the earliest you’ve got up to travel to an event and where was it?

Talking about same day travel, probably 3am to drive down to Lower Hutt from Hawke’s Bay. This was before parkrun came to Hawke’s Bay, I don’t do that drive any more. Unless for a special occasion 🙂

What has been your furthest trip for a parkrun?

Just for parkrun, the furthest trip was definitely from Auckland, New Zealand to Tokyo, Japan for the parkrun Japan launch. My first time seeing the cherry blossoms there as well.

Nneka (right) wih parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt (centre) at the launch of parkrun Japan.

Can you tell us about a memorable parkrun experience in New Zealand?

So many!

Flaxmere parkrun inaugural on 15 June 2019 with the tangata whenua (local people) involved, live music, and a free healthy breakfast provided by Hastings District Council was really special.

Hastings councillor Henare O’Keefe on guitar at Flaxmere’s launch in 2019.

Richard McChesney’s Cowell (100th different parkrun event) at Kapiti Coast on 22 August 2015, I believe he was the first and (so far) only New Zealander to complete a Cowell.

My husband Paul Gibbon’s 100th parkrun at Anderson parkrun and lots of the local parkrunners walking in with him to celebrate. Initially Paul went to parkrun only to accompany me but soon got hooked.

Celebrating Paul’s 100th parkrun at Anderson parkrun.

Another moving moment was Greytown parkrun awarding Paul and I a “Certificate of Awesomeness” for being “most colourful volunteers” at their first anniversary celebrations.

Nneka and Paul at Greytown Woodside Trail parkrun.

Hagley parkrun inaugural in October 2014 coinciding with parkrun’s 10th anniversary.

I was ticking off NZ parkruns in July (2014 I think) and Hawkes Bay “winter” had made me complacent. So I was surprised when my flight from Wellington to Dunedin on the Friday night was cancelled due to snow! Obviously I wasn’t interested in flying there on Saturday afternoon…so I made the best of it and stayed overnight in Wellington, going to Lower Hutt instead. Would you believe Cass Castleton was also at Lower Hutt ticking off NZ on his world tour?! He was only in NZ for 24 hours or so.

With Cass Castleton, Lower Hutt parkrun.

Queenstown parkrun inaugural when as tailwalker I forgot my barcode and had to run hard for 2km at the start to go and get my barcode from our accommodation and then catch up – luckily the penultimate parkrunner was experienced and not put off by the tailwalker being missing in action.

Last but not least, not one particular experience but a cumulative – the friendships and camaraderie from lots of awesome Kiwi parkrunners.

Where in New Zealand would you like a parkrun and why?

Hokitika! I’ve been fascinated by the place since reading the Luminaries when I first came to New Zealand, and I’m terrible at motivating myself to travel these days unless it’s to a parkrun…

Similarly Cape Reinga or Kaitaia in Northland would be the perfect counterpoint to Invercargill parkrun.

Tail-walking at Puarenga’s inaugural in June 2016.