Epsom, New Zealand
One of few, very few, courses to keep the word ‘park’ in alongside ‘parkrun’ [it was later dropped]. Redundancy can be a good thing. I vaguely remember booking the hostel with one eye on the parkrun, deferring the ‘how do I get to Barry Curtis park?’ question for next week – 20km east, buses don’t go that early, bike hire looks best.
By the time I got to the hostel, I’d forgotten the thought process involved in booking it, so had to check all over again what I was near. I did remember it being described as an out of town idyll. It is that, near one of Auckland’s volcanic cones, Mount Eden. A jog through there and Epsom (all this way from home, yet reminders everywhere) took me to Cornwall park, and I stumbled across the parkrun with 15 minutes to go.
For such an undulating park, in the shadow of One Tree Hill, it’s a surprisingly flat course. Which is not to say it is flat – it’s the hilliest I’ve done down under – but the inclines are mostly gentle, just one short steepish one near the end of the first k. Start and finish are to one end of the sort-of-figure-of-8 course. Heading out takes runners through twists and turns of a near 1k loop, past the bandstand that marks the meeting point, then a longer loop, down (and it is down) one side of a road, then up (and it is…you get the idea) the other, before completing that opening loop in reverse. Which means the short sharp up on the way out becomes a short sharp down, then a longer up to end on. Thanks.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. In pain when running for some time now, I figured I ought finally to take one gently, but also wanted the boost of being able still to get under 20 minutes without too much pushing. I set off reasonably gently, but two things happen when I do that: typically, the front of the race (or event, in this case) isn’t that quick, and stays reachable for long enough to tempt me. And I find I suffer the indignity of running not quite at my best, but with people who are similarly taking it easy, but hold enough pace to burn me off. I overtook one bloke on that short sharp up, overtook another at 3.5k, with both coming past near the finish. With a finish time of 20.04, I ought to have had enough to respond if I felt like it, but it wasn’t there. No training and still coldy – albeit breaking new ground by having a cold not followed by a cough-found me out. I suppose my pace judgment wasn’t too bad, without the long drag up from half way I’d have comfortably broken 20.
I’d jogged there in patchy sun, and watched others finish in slightly stronger. It is warmer than when I arrived, but better running conditions than any I ran in in all that time in Australia, so such a pity not to be able to gallop. As a parkrun, though, this was yet another perfectly delivered one. The accents change, but the reality works so well; I barely mention the “gosh, it’s just like other parkruns, in all the good ways” because it is always a surprise to realise how unsurprised I was. I know what is going to happen and it does, every time.
Fantastic. Later, I checked the NZ most events table. In Australia you need 20 runs or 5 inaugurals to be on, so my 11/1 does no good – nor would the extra 2 have made the difference had I spotted that a triple was possible in Newcastle on NYD. Here, though, they’ve just added their sixth event, 3 will get you on the table and the bloke at the top with 6 is going to have company in a few weeks. I just need to get to Barry next week, then I’m in the hands of the parkrun community for transport to, even accommodation near, Hamilton and Wellington’s runs.
Results from Cornwall parkrun, event 78, 18/1/14.