Run Report

My Cow Run

What I love about parkrun is that it’s taken me to places I’ve never been before and where I’d probably never even consider.

Like Greytown. For years I thought it was on the South Island, but I kept getting mixed up with Greymouth (there’s no parkrun there, maybe one day).

As I started climbing towards 50 different venues – and the prospect of a Cow run – I started to think about where I could celebrate it.

Somehow Greytown Woodside Trail seemed the obvious choice. Some other parkrun tourists had let me know they have cows near that event, and the G would complete another unofficial challenge too so Greytown it was.

Initial planning for this began in February, but you know, Covid and lockdown put paid to an Easter trip.

So when we got the news we would be restarting in July I started planning my away trips.

My 49th parkrun course was at East End, New Plymouth. I had my heart set on there instead of visiting Whanganui (plus I’ve got a trip there booked in so I can help my Wilson Index).

So Greytown.

Fellow tourists Julia and Paul Gordon offered me a bed at their Eastbourne home. The Lower Hutt regulars have visited Greytown a few times before, and as it turned out, it would give them another Wilson Index number.

I flew Rotorua to Wellington Friday afternoon, my return flight was booked for Sunday afternoon so we could take our time in Greytown.

We’re all early risers so were on the road to Greytown at 6.10am. The drive from Eastbourne (according to GPS) would take around 1 hr 10 minutes, so we were early but hey, might as well get going if we’re ready.

There was a spectacular sunrise as we drive over the Rimutaka Range, but photos rarely do it justice!

There’s a toilet at Woodside Station but we stopped at the Featherston public toilets. Was a good opportunity to feel the air temperature and make a decision about what to wear.

We were very quickly in Greytown and turned off towards the station and the far end of the trail. Arriving at the station we were the first for parkrun (only two other cars that had been parked overnight).

Woodside Station

Soon other parkrunners joined us, so we ventured out of the warm and across the tracks (via the road crossing) to head to the start.

It’s a short walk from the car park to the start of the trail. There was a marshal there to make sure we found our way – Nneka was dressed as a cow too, which was a great surprise.

Me with Nneka and Paul

It’s only 100m or so to get to the first pinch point that you’ll encounter. On the other side is a picnic table used to keep jackets dry (there was a container) and handy to get some elevation for a run brief.

Co-Event Director Phil Cox gave the first timers’ briefing – there was only me and one other, then other co-Event Director Dave White got the run brief underway.

There were a couple of people celebrating their 50th, plus visiting parkrunner James O’Sullivan was completing his 25th volunteering stint. And then Dave started talking about different challenges, it was a big surprise to hear about the Cow and how it came about. Thanks Nneka for arranging the shout out.

So onto the run.

Greytown’s parkrun is a simple course, it’s an out and back along the Greytown Woodside Trail.

There are a few features along the way – a wooden bridge beside a body of water, a number of pinch points, a farm track, a short section near the road (there’s a marshal there to make sure you keep to the trail) and then a sleeper set into the trail indicating where to turn.

If you had a buggy you’d have to work out a technique to get through the several pinch points, runners have their own techniques to get through, including side stepping.

You don’t really notice it, but it’s downhill on the way out. When you’re about 1km from the finish there’s an uphill climb to the wooden bridge. You can see the finish far in the distance, which is either cruel or motivating depending on your stance.

After finishing people mill around the picnic table, swapping stories. After a few pictures – and lots of chat – we decided to make a move for the cafe.

Me and Julia Gordon, who has also run 50 events.

The Offering is perhaps one of my favourite cafe experiences after parkrun.

We drove back along the road to Greytown, turned left and looked for the butcher on the right. The cafe is the other side of it. It was a pretty large space with a big menu and plenty of cabinet choice.

I chose the eggs on toast and subbed the toast for hash browns and added two sausages. I’d not yet eaten and we had discussed a walk up to the Rimutaka trig on our return journey.

I ended up going back up to the counter for a doughnut. We did stay for a long time!

We spent about two hours in the cafe, and at one point we filled the centre of the cafe. I’d reckon this parkrun has the highest percentage of parkrunners at the cafe.

After a long time chatting, getting to know the mayor of Carterton, one of Lower Hutt’s founding parkrunners and learning how this parkrun came to be, it was time to head back over the hill.

In the end we didn’t get up to the trig – the temperature dropped and we thought it best to stay safe.

I really enjoyed this parkrun and I’m glad I chose it as the location for my Cow run.

Thanks to everyone who made the drive to join me and to Paul and Julia Gordon for their hospitality.

Here’s a list of all the parkrun courses I’ve run to date.

4 replies on “My Cow Run”

An amazing trip, highlighting the hospitality of parkrunners! You might want to add a brief explanation of what a Cow run is. 🙂 There are probably quite a few Kiwi parkrunners who are not aware.

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