This weekend just gone, I ticked off my last parkrun in South Australia, and have now done all 11 parkruns in the state. (I have also done all 11 in 2016)
In the parkrun vernacular, someone who has done all parkruns in a particular state is known as a ‘statesman’ (or ‘stateswoman’). SA is definitely an easier state to achieve ‘statesman’ status given the relatively small number of events compared to other states, and all of them reasonably accessible from Adelaide.
As far as I know there are only 4 statespeople for SA with a couple of people edging closer. First was Rachel, partner of SA Territory Director John, who as part of his role has to attend all parkruns in his territory at least once a year. John has not yet achieved Statesman status as he volunteered rather than ran at the Clare launch. Then there is Brendan, who holds all sorts of records. Brendan actually lives in Melbourne which makes his SA Statesman status quite remarkable! I think he is a Statesman for Victoria too, and possibly NSW as well? Plus I think he has done parkruns in every state and territory in Australia – real parkrun royalty! Before me this weekend, 2 weeks ago Richard headed to Mount Gambier and completed his bingo card. With Richard at Mount Gambier was Chris, who has only 2 more to go, and Christies Beach RD Frank is only one short of Statesman status!
So this week I thought I’d do a brief review of all of the SA parkruns – to be as fair and equitable as possible, I’ll list them in alphabetical order!
One of six new parkruns to launch in SA this year. With many southerners previously calling Torrens home, this parkrun helped to reduce the numbers at Torrens, with many people choosing to stay closer to home. A scenic coastal course with a few bitey little hills in there!
It was quite a chilly morning when Clare Valley parkrun launched in May 2016. I was tracksuited up right up until the start! It was a good 2.5 hour drive on the morning so a very early start but well worth it. It’s the only parkrun in SA to run past actual wineries AND the only one to have a cellar door right next to the post-run coffee place! Well worth the long drive!
My closest parkrun and very much a second home – I try to get there whenever I can. Very similar to my ‘home’ parkrun of Torrens in that it is an out and back along the same river (just a bit further upstream!) and also like Torrens, situated on a golf course! An undulating course, a lot of old Torrens people are regulars here so always a lot of friends to catch up with when I visit!
Just a little way up the freeway, Mount Barker is a nice flat course in the wetlands. With ‘Mount’ in the name, you’d think it would be hilly but quite the opposite! Fantastic people, even if sometimes they forget to put out the turnaround flag meaning that visitors like me run an extra 200m whereas the locals know where the flag is meant to be!
SA’s second parkrun, launching on the day of Torrens’ first anniversary event. It was also the last one I did to complete all the SA events! It was one I’d been planning for a while but being a 4.5 hour drive, I needed to find another reason to go to Mount Gambier other than just a parkrun! In the end I combined it with a trip to Melbourne to visit my sister. I’m definitely planning to go back next year and probably spend the weekend there! Mount Gambier holds the distinction of being the most challenging SA parkrun course (at one stage I think it was rated as the second hardest in Australia) but the stunning views of the Blue Lake and the best post-run coffee I’ve yet had, more than make up for it!
Possibly the only parkrun in Australia with a bunyip? Murray Bridge is one of only 3 in SA whose launch I didn’t get to. I had planned to go, but it happened to coincide with Torrens’ 100th event, and there was a raffle for a bike, so of course I had to be there for that. I eventually made it to Murray Bridge this year, during the Olympics so we were encouraged to dress up accordingly. I found an Australian cycling kit and ran in that – surprisingly comfortable! And Murray Bridge is noteworthy for the longest post-run coffee. parkrun starts at 8 – coffee happens at the farmers market and I left there around midday!
One word – COLD! The morning of the launch the temperature dropped to a chilly -3 degrees and it was still sub-zero at the start. I think by the end it might have just snuck into positive territory! About 3.5 hours away from Adelaide, I drove up the night before – it was that little bit too far to drive up on the morning – Mount Gambier being the other SA parkrun requiring an overnight stay! It is the only parkrun I’ve done where I was wearing gloves, a vest and a fleece headband for most of it, but despite the cold weather it is a beautiful course along the Murray River and a good excuse to visit Renmark for the first time!
I missed the Strath launch due to it coinciding with Gold Coast Marathon weekend. I did go to the first trial but that didn’t count as an ‘official’ parkrun so when Torrens, Lochiel and West Beach were all cancelled due to flooding, I had to venture further afield to get my parkrun fix. With only Strath and Mount Gambier to cross off the bingo card, Strath was the logical choice! I went up with fellow Torrens run director Jim and we led the way, at one point unsure where to go so we called out to the person behind us, “Is it this way?” He was unsure himself – he said he was used to following someone else! Strath is an interesting course – I describe it like an ‘M’ – a double out and back, but not going all the way back to the start first time around. And a few nice little hills in there too!
The original – 4 years old now! It’s amazing to see how parkrun has grown both in SA and in Australia as a whole since then! I could not begin to count the number of friends I’ve met at Torrens! We have our regular ‘Zoo’ course which is currently out of action (promising to return bigger and better in 2017 – well not bigger, it will still be 5k!) and our secondary course, the ‘Broo’ course, which also goes along the River Torrens but in the opposite direction, towards the brewery. Both are undulating – there is some debate re which one is faster! Personally I prefer the Zoo course as it passes the iconic Adelaide Oval and the Riverbank Footbridge complete with waterfall!
My second most often run parkrun, strange considering it’s a good 90 minute drive for me to get there! Awesome people, stunning course (despite the fact they always put on a head wind for me every time I go there) and best of all, VEGAN CAKE for their anniversaries (maybe due in some small part to one of their RDs being a vegan!)
I first heard about West Beach parkrun in January when regular running buddy Shelley was asking me questions about how to set one up. She and Lorraine would eventually launch their parkrun in June this year, drawing a crowd of over 200! The course was familiar to me, being partly the coastal path I would often run on my long runs, and partly up the Torrens which I knew from group long runs as well as a few running events. Being part coast and part river it is a nice variable course, one which I very much look forward to running again in summer and jumping straight into the ocean afterwards, and I love their post-run coffee spot, on the deck at the local surf lifesaving club, definitely the most scenic view for a post-run coffee!
So there you have it, all 11 of the SA parkruns (so far!) I hope to have more to review in 2017 to keep my SA ‘stateswoman’ status intact!