Run making strides

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Queenstown Gardens echoes every Saturday to the sound of joggers running a new five-kilometre event.

Parkrun is a free, non-competitive, timed event which started in England 14 years ago and is now held in more than 1500 places around the world.

Queenstown’s Parkrun started on June 9 and attracts about 75 runners each week, from elite athletes to novices.

The course, starting and finishing on the Queenstown Bay beachfront, includes a loop taking in Hotops Rise, and two circuits of the Gardens.

Kick-off’s 9am, though that moves to 8am when daylight saving starts.

Participants are encouraged to register before their first run at parkrun.co.nz/queenstown.

They then bring along their barcode for scanning at the end of each run to get their time.

Experienced Parkrun runner Chris Seymour kicked off the Queenstown event after moving here from Australia last year.

He got advice on what to do from Parkrun New Zealand organisers, and thanks to NZ Home Loans sponsorship, equipment like cones, signage and timing devices was provided for free.

Like all Parkruns, the Queenstown event relies on about eight volunteers each week for marshalling, timekeeping, barcode scanning and the like.

“We encourage people who’ve participated to volunteer at least three times a year,” Seymour says.

Co-organiser Jeff Kennedy says “what we like is there are people on the start-line who are doing 16 minutes and people running with their kids, mums pushing prams – it’s achievable for anyone”.

The current men’s record, 16min 12sec, was set by local runner Jack Beaumont while on a break from college in the United States, while NZ mountain runner, Queenstowner Sarah Douglas, holds the women’s record of 18.44sec.

Local elite runner/triathlete Jason Hall, fastest runner last Saturday, says “it’s an awesome free run allowing the community to get out and be active together while also providing tourists a great way to run around the Gardens”.

It’s also a great way for people to work on their fitness goals, he adds.