Event Profile

Event profile: Cambridge NZ parkrun

There’s an unwritten challenge that parkrunners try to run at events that share a name, particularly if their home run is one half.

The twinning of parkruns simply by name has led to friendships that Cambridge NZ event director Brian Prescott (A3119130) never imagined, especially since his role came about by accident.

“I volunteered to help set up Cambridge because I did a bit of running.

“I’d never done a parkrun before then.

“I’ve yet to get in to the tourism side of things – I finally ran Hamilton Lake, which is just up the road, a couple of months ago.”

Getting started

Cambridge NZ parkrun is in the Waikato region of New Zealand, just south of the city of Hamilton.

It’s next door to the Avantidrome, which is the home of New Zealand’s high performance cyclists.

It launched on March 4, 2018.

“Rob Hammington and Lex Chalmers (stalwart Hamilton Lake parkrunners) did all the setting up and then handed it over to Paul Stinton and me as Event Directors.

“We had both put our hands up to help out, never expecting to end up as EDs.

“But here we are.

“Along the way we have built up a core group of volunteers, most notable is Christine Jenkins, who, in the last parkrun before the current lockdown, completed her 200th time volunteering at Cambridge NZ parkrun.

“Paul Stinton is not far behind.

“I couldn’t do it without our core volunteer team of Paul, Christine, Larraine, Jo, Kenny, Sammy and Kyra – thanks guys.”


“The nearest town is Cambridge. But there was already a Cambridge parkrun so we became Cambridge NZ.

“We are one of the few ‘twin’ parkruns in the world and before Covid-19 there were a number of parkrunners who achieved the Cambridge double.

“We have a good relationship with Cambridge parkrun and had their volunteer team join us via a Zoom call when we restarted after the first Covid lockdown.”

Sadly Cambridge parkrun has since announced its closure.

Cambridge NZ launched with 95 parkrunners and nine volunteers.

It has an average finish of 50 parkrunners. Its highest attendance of 170 came on January 1, 2019, when it doubled with Hamilton Lake.

Brian and his daughter Anna aka Fizz

The course

“It’s a ‘mostly flat’ out and back parkrun with the first half being mostly downhill.

“It has a mostly rural outlook with some views of the mighty Waikato River.

“There are a few short and sharp uphills so try to leave something in the tank for the ‘heartbreak hill’ and ‘destroyer of PBs’ at the finish.”

Brian says that because Cambridge NZ attracts a small field it “never gets crowded”.

“And being an out and back course you always get plenty of encouragement along the way.”

Afterwards they head next door to The Bikery Café.

“I always go for the savoury scone, but a lot of people talk about the sausage rolls.”

While at Cambridge NZ parkrun

The Avantidrome is right next to the cafe.

It is free entry unless there is an event on.

You can often see some of the NZ cycling team training. Or for $25 you can do a 1 hour intro to track cycling.

All equipment provided.

Cambridge also has a very good farmer’s market at the village green on Saturdays and there are some excellent shops and cafes in the main street.

If you’re into nature Maungatautari Eco Sanctuary is worth a visit. Cambridge is also the closest parkrun to Hobbiton.

What’s in a Name…

Cambridge was named after the Duke of Cambridge, Commander in Chief of the British Army in 1864.

Its Maori name is Kemureti.

As Cambridge parkrun already existed in the UK, NZ was added as a suffix to signal it was a different Cambridge.

This was originally published in Issue 6 of the Runs With A barcode magazine.

Photos by Andy Walmsley

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