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Stepping out: Queenstown Parkrun founder Chris Seymour

A free weekly Queenstown running event celebrates its first anniversary this Saturday with a fancy dress run.

The worldwide Parkrun movement, started in England 15 years ago, was brought to Queenstown by former Sydney Parkrunner Chris Seymour.

He’d heard Wanaka was about to start one, “and I was like, ‘if Wanaka’s starting one, we can start one”‘.

Parkrun – starting on the Queenstown Bay beachfront each Saturday at 9am or 8am during daylight saving – takes in a five-kilometre loop around Hotops Rise and the Gardens.

Weekly numbers – averaging 80-plus – have surpassed Seymour’s expectations, with often 60 to 70 per cent from out of town.

“I reckon out of all the Parkruns in New Zealand, we get the highest amount of tourists.

“There’s a thing called ‘Parkrun tourism’, and there’s all these crazy challenges like people trying to do a Parkrun with every letter of the alphabet, and they love coming to Queenstown because there’s not many ‘Qs’.”

The record turnout was 117 on Christmas Day, followed by 114 on Easter Saturday.

The event appeals to both novice and elite runners – local runner Jack Beaumont, with 15min 38sec, has run the fastest Queenstown Parkrun, while on a break from college in the United States, while Aussie Caitlin Adams, with 17.41sec, holds the women’s record.

Seymour’s encouraging Saturday’s entrants to run in fancy dress.

Frontrunner, which is sponsoring the event this year, will give out spot prizes, while after-match venue Yonder, which gives Parkrunners coffee discounts, will serve celebratory cake.

treacherous, the only Saturdays Parkrun doesn’t run are during WinterFest and the Queenstown International Marathon.

– PHILIP CHANDLER