Run Report

Blenheim parkrun recap

Blenheim parkrun has been on my radar for almost as long as I’ve been involved with parkrun.

They first came to my attention when I was getting Puarenga parkrun set-up as they launched the week after us (it was a busy time for parkrun with three new events in three weeks).

But getting there always seemed to be tricky. Flying from one regional airport to another isn’t cheap, and to go just for parkrun it seemed excessive.

I’m not a wine drinker, so wineries and touring around them has no appeal. But combining parkrun with other adventures does.

For this trip I opted to take my 8-year-old son Axel and have a long weekend away enjoying some wildlife tourism.

Our car, we loved the push button ignition.
How we got there

We flew on Thursday from Rotorua to Christchurch, hired a car and drove to Kaikoura, our first stop.  There we clambered over the now exposed seabed (thanks to the 2016 earthquake) to see some seals. Axel was thrilled, which was a good start.

On former sea bed, elevated from the 2016 earthquake.

I’d bought us a trip on the Whale Watch tour the following day as a Christmas surprise. He wasn’t overly keen but got excited on the drive up from Christchurch as I explained the significance of the Kaikoura coast.

That was a big mistake. The weather turned and we woke on Friday to heavy rain, no visibility out at sea and reports of rough seas. Tour cancelled.

So we made the best of a bad situation, got a sad selfie and made the decision to head to Blenheim earlier than expected (and go to the movies once there).


We swapped Axel’s car seat over to the driver’s side so he could look for seals. He saw a few but the weather was that bad that it was hard to see past the rain.

Once in Blenheim we headed straight for the cinema (we were too early to check into our accommodation) and enjoyed the new Croods movie. The laughter made up for the disappointment earlier in the day.

We stayed in the Blenheim Bridges Holiday Park (formerly Top 10) and if we had any reason to return we’d probably stay there again.


Come parkrunday we left early and arrived at 7.35, only to discover I’d left my barcode in our room. Good job we were staying close by. We were back within 10 minutes.

There’s free parking until 9.30am and it’s a short walk to the start.

Aim for here, the river is just below. Turn left.

From the car park you head to the river. Once on the footpath you turn left and from there you should be able to see the flags.

At this event the finish was under the bridge – it was a bit overcast and I suppose the event team thought there was a chance of rain. This altered the start and finish but it appeared to be a regular occurrence as the alternate lines were marked.

A stubbed toe

Axel is not a parkrunner normally, but he said he wanted to run with me this time.

We started near the back of the field and I stopped every so often to get photos or video. Axel is a run walker – or more like a sprinter and walker. However he was in bare feet (which is normal for him) and he kept catching his toes.

At the half way to half way point he stubbed his toe badly enough that it started to bleed (and profusely). We had to stop, he wailed, and sat in the middle of the path.

Would I have to return to Blenheim another time?


Luckily the tail walkers were soon in sight. And this week there were two, one of whom we had met at the start of the event and chatted (for she is a blog supporter).

A huge thank you to Robyn Richards for accompanying Axel back to the start/finish.

By this point the first two runners had already passed us on their way home – they had one kilometre to run while I had almost 4!

Once Axel was in the safe custody of Robyn I set off to run as fast as I could go without giving myself a heart attack.

I’m not a fast runner at the best of times, but my splits showed where I was with Axel and where I wasn’t.

My run

The course is an out and back alongside the Taylor River. You wouldn’t know you were in a town for much of it.

It’s a shoestring parkrun, in that there are no marshals on the course (and as a visitor with no other runners in sight I would have enjoyed seeing one or two in key points).

I found the turnaround mark (it’s a painted orange cone on the footpath) and quickly headed back.

I stopped a few times to get photos, along the path there are huge boulders with plaques on them, each of a poem pertaining to the river.

If you have more time in Blenheim it might be nice to enjoy them at a more leisurely pace.

As it happened there was nothing leisurely about my return leg. I passed a couple of parkrunners who had been far in the distance and was greeted at the finish by Axel and Robyn.

Me, Axel and Robyn Richards

By then he had a huge grin on his face, and he showed off his plastered toe – a neighbour in his garden had heard the commotion and raised his first aid kit.

The aftermath

Due to another tour booked in Kaikoura (Albatross Encounter, which did go ahead and I have only rave reviews) we didn’t stay for the parkfaff.

The path to Raupo Cafe

Instead we went to Raupo Café and ordered takeaway (it has a separate entrance near the road). I had a flat white and Axel a hot chocolate.

The takeaway counter at Raupo

My brief impressions of Blenheim parkrun are that it’s a nice small event but given the size of the town and the tourism in the area it should probably be a little bigger.

That being said, small parkruns give you the opportunity to chat and feel connected (and a low token number).


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