Run Report

The Longest parkrun

The Longest Day parkrun or 6x5km, as this was termed, is an annual unofficial bus trip involving all lower North Island parkruns.

It was organised by Bruce McCardle (Lower Hutt and Greytown Woodside Trail parkruns) and attended by 30-odd parkrunners.

This year it took place on Sunday, March 21. This is a recap of the day from my viewpoint.

Lower Hutt

Time started: 6.51am

Time recorded: 46:45

As the first parkrun course of the day one would have expected it to have been a bit quicker. Except my legs really didn’t feel like it (maybe I was already giving too much thought to what lay ahead).

The sun was still rising as we set off.

Martin O’Sullivan picked me up from my digs and we pulled up to the car park to find a few others already ready to get going. It didn’t matter when you started, so long as you were on the bus by 8am.

So almost as soon as I arrived at the car park I was off to get it done.

Julia Gordon heading towards the finish.

I spent this event chatting and catching up with Julia Gordon, who was one of the few countrymen on the bus (she has officially completed all 33 courses in New Zealand).

Lower Hutt is a predominantly flat out and back parkrun with a couple of rises along the stopbank. You go on grass at the turnaround (you can see the regular path taken by parkrunners) and you finish on grass at the end.

After a quick pitstop (the nearest toilets are about 300m away), the bus was on its way to Porirua.


Time started: 8.33am

Time recorded: 36:09

Surprisingly, this was my fastest 5km of all six. I say surprising, I ran it officially on the Saturday and with 44m of elevation gain (according to my watch), it’s not the fastest of courses!

We parked on the road and walked into Bothamley Park.

Walking to the start

There’s really cool sign just as you near the car park and since I didn’t get a photo on the Saturday I decided that I needed to get it this morning.

Me and the famous sign.

I measured this course short on Saturday (because of the trees and gullies) so I ran past the finish post at the end to make sure I ticked over 5km.

This run I ran the whole way, I’d found my running legs and felt excited to run this again.

I think I’d spent the first run thinking too much about running 30km in one day (I very rarely go over 8km in one run). By the time I ran here it was, run this one and tick it off.

It was at this course that I briefly met Peter Murmu, who was walking all six in jandals and taking photos along the way.

Pic by Peter Murmu

Coffee stop

You can’t have a parkrun experience without coffee. Our bus driver did a great job of driving into the Palmers car park at Plimmerton.

Organiser Bruce had given them advance warning and the customers already there were grateful to have ordered just before we arrived.

Lizzi Elton-Walters had reminded us earlier in the week to bring our keep-cups, this was the first outing for my new parkrun mug.

As I wasn’t sure how my lunch would hold up, I bought a couple of sausage rolls too, that would prove to be a good move later on.

Pic by Peter Murmu

Kapiti Coast

Time started: 10.42am

Time recorded: 36:58

Out of all the six events, this was the one course that I had not yet run on an official parkrunday.

We stopped on the roadside and wandered down to the start/finish. The tactic for a lot of people was to get started as soon as we arrived so as to give some leeway at the end.

We weren’t going anyway quickly after this run, but it was good to have more time for lunch.

Near the start

This course is an out and back beside the Waikanae River. I learned that occasionally the river will flood and wash away the gravel , and that the council will re-gravel sections quite regularly.

Pic by Peter Murmu

After this run we enjoyed a picnic lunch in the Otaihanga Domain. I was glad for the sausage rolls, the donburi I had bought the day before was not enjoyable, so I fed it to the ducks.

Pic by Peter Murmu

Palmerston North

Time started: 1.53pm

Time recorded: 40:45

The first three parkruns were reasonably close to one another, but to get to Palmerston North was about an hour. I made the decision to change my clothes at Kapiti, so I enjoyed the drive in fresh clothing.

We were ahead of schedule at this stage, which was a welcome surprise.

This section of the trip allowed for a nap, book reading, chatting or just looking out the window.

We drove through Otaki, which may be the next parkrun to get started, and had a quick look at the start as we went over the river.


We arrived in Palmerston North and headed for the toilets in the playground area. Then we made our way down to the river path, which was being used by a lot of runners, walkers and cyclists.

Walking to the start

The start line wasn’t as clearly marked as the previous two so I started my watch and hoped for the best (ultimately I knew I would be recording a minimum 5km).

By this time it was quite warm, and this course (another out and back along the river) is quite open.

Dave White from Greytown Woodside Trail parkrun

I walked most of the outgoing leg, chatting with Chrissy from Kapiti Coast who was nursing a sore knee.

As we neared the turnaround we were greeted by Palmerston North event director Kate Southern, who had brought out a turnaround cone to ensure we didn’t go too far!

Group pic with Kate

As we turned back Julia said she wanted to run to the 3km mark. So I decided to run too, and then I kept on going.

I had a couple of walking breaks (where the path went ever so slightly uphill!). Consequently I finished feeling so much better than I had started out.

The finish area

At the finish we learned the bus driver had smashed his face against rocks when he fell on the path looking for the toilets.

He had a number of cuts to his face, and thankfully there were nurses among us.

There was some delay to see if he needed to switch drivers immediately. In the end we ended up going all the way to Greytown.

Greytown Woodside Trail

Time started: 4.56pm

Time recorded: 42:25

In between Palmerston North and Greytown we had a toilet stop at Carterton. Others took the opportunity to dash across the road to New World for cold Coke and salty potato chips.

I didn’t think about that and I missed my opportunity. I will know for next time!

Greytown Woodside Trail parkrun is another out and back, except this one is along an old railway line.

The outward leg

It’s quite deceptive in that you don’t realise you’re going downhill, until you turn around and head baak!

I ran this event in August last year. It was my 50th different event, known as a Cow. For more on that read this blog.

Because I knew this nuance, I decided to run the outward leg and then see how much of the return my legs could handle. It turned out not a lot.

Then began the battle between the brain and my legs.

In the last 350m the brain won out and I finished the courses with a run(or at least my definition of a run).

Trentham Memorial

Time started: 6.49pm

Time recorded: 46:56

Back on the bus, one parkrun ahead of us. We were still ahead of schedule (which I found quite amazing), so we were confident we would be running in daylight.

There were a few of us who had never run here before. I was concerned about taking a wrong turn, but I needn’t have worried as Martin kept me company.

Trentham Memorial is New Zealand’s newest parkrun at the time of running. It was described as a reverse lollipop. You start on the lollipop, go down the stick to the turnaround and then come back along the stick and around the other side of the lollipop.

We started in the park, ran around a sports field (could have been cricket but I have forgotten!) and then up and over the stopbank.

We were lucky to have a lead bike and turnaround marshal. This meant no one had to worry about going so far down the river that they ended up at Lower Hutt!

It was such a welcome sight to see Neil, who is one of the run dircetors at Trentham Memorial.

Neil the turnaround marshal

By this stage my legs had won the battle of whether to run or not and I was okay with that. I’ve been managing an injury the last few months so getting to the final parkrun was an achievement for me.

Martin was great company, I have no idea what nonesense we were talking about by then though!

More company

Just past the turnaround we were joined by parkrun tourist Sarah Jantscher. I think the first time I met Sarah was at Puarenga parkrun on Christmas Day.

She and her partner had travelled from Tauranga for parkrun (moving to New Zealand was dependent on finding a local parkrun). We’ve met again at Hobsonville Point and I’ve enjoyed watching Sarah’s name climb the most events table.

She’s now on 30 NZ events.

The day before she ran Foster parkrun, she and her partner had flown to Christchurch for a car part, which is the most random reason I’ve heard when it comes to parkrun tourism.

Regardless of the reason, it brings her closer to completion.

Chatting to her about her future tourism plans helped tick over the kilometres. Before I knew it we were at Barton’s Bush (the headlight was helpful in here.)

Entering Barton’s Bush

Just a few hundred metres later and we were at the finish, not just of Trentham Memorial parkrun but of the whole day.

There were lots of smiles on weary faces. Each and every one of us stoked to have completed the challenge.

At the finish!

A big thanks to Bruce McCardle for organising this trip and inviting me along. I had an awesome time getting to chat with other parkrunners. One thing was clear, parkrun means a lot to all of us, for our own reasons.

3 replies on “The Longest parkrun”

Another occurred to me on reading this article again. Anyone out there in parkrun world fancy organising something similar further north? Auckland would be an obvious candidate, but what about University of Waikato, Hamilton Lake, Cambridge, Tauranga, Puarenga and (maybe?), Taupo?

Funny you should mention it, there is discussion among Auckland parkrunners about a similar thing and I have been thinking about a Waikato Bay of Plenty trip (most likely starting and finishing in Hamilton).

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