Porirua, New Zealand
Number five of six NZ parkruns for me. Porirua is a suburb of Wellington, about half an hour north of the city by train. Paraparaumu is about an hour north of the city, so I had to hop on a train heading in. No problem, but the two candidates were 6.05 and 7.05. The latter would get me a mile from the start with 20 minutes to go; perfect, but only if everything was on time. I’ve not come all this way to be denied by a mixed up train, so was on the 6.05 after a 20 minute jog from the hostel. Yes, that’s the other factor – nearly 4km from beachside to the station.
The railway line does get closer – much closer – to the sea further down, which makes me say ‘gah!’ but also makes for some spectacular views on the way to Porirua. South of there the views aren’t so impressive, so it’s worth looking up for the early part of a trip from Waikanae (well? Why?).
The course is shaded, runs on a gravelly trail and thanks to support from the council, boasts both a large welcome/advertising sign in the small car park, and is permanently marked. Lower Hutt has its kilometre markings painted into the ground, here they are on high poles by the side of the course, as is the turn around point. It’s an out and back, heading almost exclusively upwards on the way out, down on the way back. It’s certainly tough, but the first kilometre or so felt mostly flat on the way out, but I was still on a downhill turbo charge coming back.
I was there so early that I had time for breakfast and to have a wander along the course. Should you come on the train, follow signs to the eastern suburbs, take the subway under the motorway and then take a left into Champion street at the mini roundabout. Once we had celebrated volunteers – they give certificates to people at 5 and 25 times volunteered – we were off. Promise of half price entry into local races for pbs in February had the start line busy, but we strung ourselves out pretty well even early on. The leader charged through and disappeared, but I had a youngster to follow and I kept him within 100m or so. They had a lead bike out, too, but the instruction to turn right at the two intersections made the course clear enough.
It was a tough run but a good one and afterwards I met George and Astrid, the founders, whose family occupied most of the volunteer positions. Over drinks afterwards I got to know them a little better – while conversation turned to the US parkruns I’ll be taking in on the way home, it soon moved on to children, schools and religion, which made a nice change. I had also bumped into Kemp before the start. We had met the week before, at Mark’s, when he had just returned from running Hamilton parkrun with Mark’s brother, Martin. In doing so Martin had become the second person to complete the six; he and Kemp were travelling round them together, but he’d run Porirua on New Year’s Day, when Kemp was sleeping off the night before, so today Kemp became completist number 3. No one else did, though, so I am among those perched on 5, and will finish my set next weekend.
Eventually I got back on the train to the hostel, realising that I really ought to have just brought my (cricket) test pass and gone straight there in the sun. Stuff it, the hostel was friendly, the shower was hot and I relaxed a bit before getting back to Wellington after 2. Good mileage today, I ran the parkrun course twice, and walked back to the train station after running it twice. The hostels are full because there’s a festival on, so the waterfront was thronging with people and there were stages and event tents scattered around, some free and some needing tickets. The 80s are going to be big out here, it seems, with breakdancing and beatbox on one stage. The water jetpack was very cool – I don’t know if that’s a NZ original, as the jet boat engine is.
The cricket I saw was good. India extended a lead they’d got without me, Dhoni attacking and Rahane getting enough support from the tail to grab his maiden test century. Jadeja had banged it around before getting out. After Rahane reached his ton he went for it. Zaheer can bat and hadn’t been protected up to then, but Rahane now celebrated his century by turning down a single early in Anderson’s over. He clearly fancied his bowling, and duly took two more fours from him, seemingly at will. They were all out with a lead of 246, and removed Two Metre Peter early before I called it a day.