Run Report

Balclutha parkrun recap

I didn’t have to wait long to get started on parkrun tourism in 2020. I started the year in New Zealand’s Deep South.

Way back in June when New Zealand was moved back into Alert Level One I started my planning of parkrun adventures. Back then of course we had yet had the news that New Year’s Day Doubles would be no longer.

If you’re new to parkrun then previously we’d been able to run two parkrun events on New Year’s Day and have both results count, events would stagger their start times to allow a double with a neighbouring run.

My plan was to run the Invercargill/Balclutha double and then get to Dunedin parkrun on parkrunday. When events are so far away from home you want to try to pack in as many as possible in the one trip!

Of course that was all off within a couple of weeks of the flights to Invercargill being booked!

With that news I decided to stick with Invercargill and Balclutha but await New Year declarations before choosing where.

Getting there

I was lucky to be joined by friends Cate and Jeff from Rotorua. They had planned on visiting Queenstown and Wanaka but a couple of hours after discussing my trip their tickets were booked. Queenstown doesn’t run on NYD due to the town’s revelry.

We set off from Invercargill around 6.10am on New Year’s Day, stopping at BP to get coffee for the drive. It was a wet journey – a sign of what was to come. We took the SH93 Old Coach Rd option, turning off at Mataura rather than go via Gore.

We arrived around 7.40am. The park was very easy to find but there is limited parking within the park (we got one of the last spaces).

The toilets are close to the car park (and beside the aviary).

The run

It was raining and many people were huddled under umbrellas while waiting for the briefing to start.

Balclutha parkrun starts and finishes in Naish Park, you run towards the stopbank (over a cattle grid – there are sometimes livestock on the course) and turn left.

It’s mostly grass, and the path had been mown recently (the mower received a cheer at the briefing). There’s a little amount of gravel but it’s a very narrow strip.

The track had been freshly mown for us.

After less than a kilometre you turn around and head back in the opposite direction. You get to run past the finish funnel volunteers who give you a resounding cheer.

The other turnaround is the historic Clutha Bridge which spans the Clutha River. There are river views for the vast majority of the parkrun.

The Clutha Bridge

You get to run over the bridge – and run under it on both sides too. There was also one cattle grid to cross before joining the bridge. These are slippery in rain so I walked on the plank at the edge.

The rain stopped once the run had started, but I was halfway before it started again with a vengeance.

To finish you turn back off the stopbank, over the cattle grid and through the finish funnel.

With the grass and cattle grids it’s not a fast course.

I stopped for photos and video (and I hadn’t slept well so wasn’t feeling in good shape) so my time was a lot slower than I expected. Given it was my first visit there it was still a PB.

A small event means a low token number.

Here’s a link to my instagram video.

The aftermath

Balclutha parkrun’s usual cafe was closed for the holidays so we went to the one place that was open – The Gate Cafe.

It was there that we had the good fortune of meeting Suzie, a local who knew The Catlins like the back of her hand.

We’d picked up a map from the counter to plan our drive back to Invercargill and Suzie quickly let us know where to stop and which roads to avoid.

We eventually arrived back in Invercargill at 5pm, the longest I’d ever remained parkrun fresh* .

There were 39 finishers at Balclutha, with visitors from Lower Hutt and Dunedin as well as ourselves from Rotorua.

Me and event director Rod Deverson under the tree

It’s always one of the smaller events and as such a great run to meet the locals and find out the best places to visit while in the area.

* parkrun fresh – staying in your parkrun gear while getting on with your day.

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