Early risers enjoying the benefits of parkrun

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Weekend sleep-ins are a thing of the past for one group of Dunedin runners.

The Dunedin Botanic Garden comes alive at 8am every Saturday with runners pounding the pavement for “parkrun”.

Parkrun Dunedin event director Tania Hollis said the volunteer-run event had been held in the city for four years.

Parkrun was an international movement, taking place in 17 countries, she said.

Last year about 80 people attended the Dunedin runs but this year the numbers had risen to more than 100.

It had been great to see so many people involved.

“Parkrun is a bit of a community and what’s even better is it’s free and all-inclusive,” Ms Hollis said.

“We have people from 4 to 70 years old participate.”

Ms Hollis said runners could take part as registered or unregistered.

Regular attendees . . . Runners from the Caversham Running Club (from left) Nathan Shanks. Steve Stewart, Donna Tumuru and Jonah Smith enjoy parkrun. PHOTO: ELLA STOKES

Registered runners received a barcode which could be scanned at any parkrun around the world to keep up to date with times and rankings.

The 5km run in the gardens made for great scenery and “in true Dunedin style there are a few hills involved”, Ms Hollis said.

Nathan Shanks, Donna Tumaru, Steve Stewart and Jonah Smith are members of the Caversham Running Club and have been involved in parkrun for over a year.

Mr Shanks said it helped him to keep fit and become a more competitive runner.

Parkrun includes those who run for fun and others who are more competitive.

Mr Smith is a competitive runner and said parkrun was great because it was good “to have a sense of fun and community as that is often lost at competitive events”.

Jen and Tim Hodgson are also keen park runners and bring their four children along to participate with them most weeks.

Mr Hodgson said they did it because it was a great way to start the weekend and “even if you’re having a bad running day everyone is really encouraging”.

The Saturday morning parkrun will start at the later time of 9am from April 7 over the colder months.