Hagley parkrun, Christchurch, NZ

Hagley parkrun route
Hagley parkrun route.

There are two stories to my parkrun Saturday, both are true. In one, the short one, without drama, I travel to Hagley park, wander to the start, whip off my clothes to reveal my running kit underneath, am in time for the briefing and run it. It’s a hot day and I haven’t warmed up, plus my achilles is giving me gyp, so it’s not a great run, but I’m pleased my flight was not delayed and I can make it to the start.

Hagley parkrun, runners streaming by
Hagley park, runners streaming by – record attendance of 352, both for here and NZ.

The other one, as an adjunct to the above, has me chilling out at the airport before 6am, having cleared immigration very quickly. A quiet airport plus an early morning made for a seamless progress. I was there early enough that I would have considered walking into town – it’s a good 8km or so to the run, if not more, but that’s doable, and better than ‘running’ with my bigger bag on my back. And there are buses, so that would have been possible.

Instead, I chilled out, charged my laptop, browsed the web, etc., then wandered outside at about 6.45. Because I was waiting for a lift! For some reason, on Facebook I had ticked the ‘going!’ box on Hagley park for this Saturday, and that had been spotted by Hannah. Hannah is based in Auckland, but was in Christchurch for work this very weekend, and she suggested she could come and get me and we’d both go to Pegasus parkrun. Well, why not! We messaged, arranged it, I promised to be in touch if I was late, and that was that.

Landing to early morning messages from Hannah was encouraging, though it did give me a moment of ‘cor, I couldn’t get in that late and get up again happily’.

At 7, I was relaxed. “7ish”, she said. 7.10, I think, was when I started to think “hmm, how long do I leave it?”, and I tried ringing her. At 7.15 I walked back to the terminal to get some cash, before heading back to the drop off area and ringing again.

Sure by now that it wasn’t just me standing in the wrong spot, I sent a quick ‘abort!’ message and walked over to the taxis. The driver was very glad of the business, given he’d be

en waiting a couple of hours (for any fare, not tracking me specifically around the airport), so we had a good laugh about that.

I was there in time, only slightly flustered when faced by a huge park and no obvious start line – I had a little jog, but had 10 minutes or so before the start. Hannah was hugely apologetic – mostly I was just glad it wasn’t my fault (I suppose it couldn’t have been, but my mind wondered if I’d somehow done something wrong-and still, she offered to do me a big favour, and now the favour wasn’t working out, and that doesn’t count as letting someone down to me), and glad I still got a run in. I had had a moment of just thinking ‘shall I just wait here and not do a parkrun?’, but that would have been fine had the plane been late but, for my psychology, not so much with it landing nearly on time (despite a late start while they reconciled the bag count). At times like these, and there haven’t been many, I think “how much do I want to do this parkrun, and is that amount sensible?” The answer has so far always been “enough to catch taxi/get up a bit earlier/run from this delayed train”.

Hagley parkrun finish
Hagley parkrun finish, volunteers in control.

They had a big old crowd of people, ending up (as the run director had publicly hoped before the start) in both their and parkrun New Zealand’s record attendance, of 352. The course is a figure of 8, on a good flat surface, with just a couple of tight turns to slow you a bit. Plus with that number of people, most standards of runner will have someone to push them along. Last week, I led in a group, this time I was mobbed and passed by one right at the end – from swing to roundabout, or something. Plenty of facilities in the park, if you need them, and it’s a great place to explore on your warm up and cool down. Or on another run, in my case, as I chatted to a couple of runners (mostly about religion, as it turned out – finally, something I could blame Hannah for, her fault I have been approached by this man wanting to find out the religious temperature in London and, I suspect, to see if this was an opportunity to spread the word), then grabbed my bags and strolled into town to my hostel.


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