Run Report

University of Waikato parkrun launch

My run report from the inaugural University of Waikato parkrun, November 7, 2020

My very first sporting event in New Zealand was in the grounds of the University of Waikato. It was the Special K Women’s Triathlon, held over Waitangi weekend of 2004.

The swim was in the pool, the cycle on Raukura Rd and the run around the University of Waikato campus.

Aside from the swim, where I stopped at the end of each 50m length, and the feeling of elation as I crossed the finish line, any memories of the run were long forgotten.

At least until this parkrun.

The course

At the run briefing Event Director Nicola Clayden gave an intricate explanation of the course. It sounded very confusing (and likely had a few people wondering if they would get lost).

However, once underway it was an easy course to follow (I’ve been at more confusing, Banbury parkrun in the UK springs to mind).

The start and finish is in the village green area of the University of Waikato’s Hamilton campus.

parkrunners were already ready at 7.30am

To get there you park at Gate 1 (about 100m from the gate there’s a car park on the left). Park up and walk towards the building, follow the footpath until you see the Unimart (there are signs showing the way).

Follow the arrows!
On arrival

As you walk into the village green area you’re greeted with a lake view and beautiful greenery. It’s going to be an event that will gain lots of fans for this alone.

The toilets and cafe are on the other side to the start (to the left as you arrive), but the distance is negligible.

Nicola’s never been involved with parkrun before but with the tutelage of parkrun veteran Lex Chalmers (and also a professor at the university), she’s received fine schooling in what the event is about – and her inexperience didn’t show.

Nicola Clayden gives the run brief

Lex had the honour of cutting the ribbon before the assembled parkrunners gathered in the funnel to get underway.

University event

I’d said ahead of the run that I thought the attendance would break Owairaka’s inaugural two weeks prior of 209. And it would have if several events hadn’t coincided – the Waitomo Trail Run and The Taniwha attracted runners from the Waikato area, while the New Zealand Road Race Championships were on in Auckland.

As it was, some 190 experienced the first taste of parkrun on campus – and New Zealand’s first university event. Click on the image below for video of the run start.

Video from Runs With A Barcode facebook page

There are others elsewhere: University of Stirling in Scotland shares its name with its parkrun course, Colney Lane parkrun is at the University of East Anglia campus in Norwich, England, and Woodhouse Moor parkrun in Leeds, England, was started as a means for sports management students to get involved in sport at a voluntary level.

Here’s to a successful student involvement at both running and volunteering at University of Waikato.

And we’re off

Back to the run. We started (on the whistle) with a small lap around the lake. Back past the start straight and chalk arrows directed us for laps 2, 3 and 4.

Runners in the distance during the first lap.

The second and third are the same – known as the sportsfield loop.

It’s here I was reminded of my launch into triathlon (I would find myself on the start line of Ironman some 13 months after the Special K experience).

My triathlon run went in the opposite direction, but the memories came flooding back (it was a struggle to run just 3km!).

Count to 4

The sportsfield loop runs alongside Knighton Rd on wide footpath, turns and crosses another footpath (there was a marshal), goes past what I think was changing facilities (and where the transition was for my triathlon!), past university accommodation and up a gradual incline. Before you know it, you’re back at the start again.

Sportsfield loop heading back to the start/finish (it’s just behind the trees on the right)

On the fourth loop you head towards the sportsfield loop again, but instead of running around the field you turn right and join the lake loop.

Sounds complicated, but in reality, it’s not. So long as you know what lap you’re on (and can count to four!) you shouldn’t go wrong.

At the end of your fourth loop you run along the lake and turn left by the cafe, then left onto the grass and to the finish.

The first and last 70 metres or so was on grass, the rest is all on path and mostly flat. I recorded 11m of elevation gain overall.

The aftermath

It was a humid day (the parkrun weather fairies held off the rain until the finish) and there were some biting insects around the finish area, so if you’re susceptible to bites (like me) then I’d suggest you wear insect repellant over the warmer months if you don’t want to be swatting and itching.

After chatting at the finish area we headed for Kahurangi Cafe, the student cafe opposite the finish.

The line was long and I guess a bit overwhelming for the baristas. There’s a selection of cabinet food but no full English so head elsewhere if you’re after something more substantial or have dietary requirements.

This was my 53rd event and 22nd in New Zealand.

As this is the first event to start with a U in New Zealand it will be popular with those who like to complete the various running challenges (all unofficial but makes parkrun a bit more fun).

What I enjoy about parkrun is the parkfaff afterwards. Never a dull moment when you’re with other parkrunners.

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