The parkrun concept started in England 16 years ago when a group of friends started doing a 5km timed run on Saturdays. It slowly grew and then rapidly expanded so it is now a global phenomenon — nowadays there are thousands of parkruns worldwide in 22 different countries.
So far, there are 29 locations in New Zealand, one being Wānaka, where it has now taken place for two years, combining for over 100 events.
“The 100th parkrun in Wānaka is a huge milestone for us!,” said Jane Sharman, the wife in the husband-and-wife duo who kicked off this low-key but iconic event. “Adam and I have been there for most of the 100 events and have been supported by amazing local volunteers, the QLDC and Edgewater (where we go afterwards for coffee!). We have met so many awesome people — including locals, people with holiday homes in the area and lots of parkrun tourists each week — who plan their trips to coincide with parkrun. We have made good friends and love the positive energy the event brings to kick off people's weekends. We have seen many gain confidence as they become fitter and many who have used the runs to train for personal goals,” said Sharman.
The run is open to everyone: “Once you register you have your personal barcode and you can use it at any parkrun worldwide and your time will be recorded against your name. Parkrun is always free to participate in and it's for everyone (all ages, all abilities; walk or run)”. On February 22 Wānaka parkrun will celebrate its second birthday. “We look forward to many more years!” concluded Sharman.