Race Report – Tower Trail Run 2018

Last year I ran the Tower Trail Run in Mount Gambier for the first time. You can read all about it here.

I loved it so much I just had to go back!

This year I’d opted to run the half marathon again (2 laps) although the competitor in my kind of wished I’d gone with the marathon (4 laps) when I saw only 2 women on the provisional start list! Along with the single lap 10.5km event, this year an ultra distance (56km) had been added – it was 4 laps like the marathon, but the loop included a lap around the iconic Blue Lake. Something a bit special just for the ultra runners!

This weekend was also the weekend of the Pichi Richi marathon (starting in Port Augusta) and also the launch of the Port Augusta parkrun. I have always been keen on Pichi, the idea of a one-way marathon (like Boston, only on a much smaller scale!) appeals to me and I was thinking that I might give it a crack next year. The timing has never worked out before!

Joining me on this trip were Karen, Daryl and Wendy who had also made the journey last year, as well as Wendy’s partner Graham. We were all doing the 21.1km.

A road trip from Adelaide to Mount Gambier would not be complete without a stop in Coonawarra for a wine tasting. This year we went to Zema Estate on Friday afternoon on the way there, and Redman on Monday morning on the way back. I thank Karen and Daryl for indulging me as they are both non-drinkers, although at Redman Karen managed to occupy her time with the resident ‘wine dog’ while I was doing my tasting! I love Coonawarra, it’s so compact and the wines are fabulous!

Wendy and I sampling some of Zema’s wares!

Friday night I had arranged to meet a vegan friend, Mount Gambier local Rose (who I hadn’t actually met in real life, just on social media) and her fellow vegan friend Karl, visiting from Sydney. We had some fantastic vegan burgers and fries at the new burger joint in town (not just vegan, also catering to omnivores!) – Natural Born Grillers. It was great to chat about running and vegan deliciousness with a couple of like-minded people!

A Saturday morning in Mount Gambier, particularly for a runner, would not be complete without Mount Gambier parkrun. I’ve done a lot of different parkruns now (I think 31 globally?) and I have to say this is my favourite. It’s a bit challenging, with a few little hills (up until the launch of Cleland it would have been the most challenging parkrun in SA) but with the most incredible view over the Blue Lake. I always find myself getting distracted by it on the way out (it’s an ‘out and back’ course) – run run run run run – oh, look at the lake! – run run run run run – oh, still the lake, wow! – etc etc! It was particularly distracting the first time I went there, as that was in December when it’s actually a really striking blue. In June it’s more of a blue-grey but no less impressive!

And a parkrun in Mount Gambier must always be followed by coffee at Metro, probably a big part of the reason why it is my favourite of all the parkruns. Even though on this particular occasion they didn’t have any vegan cakes in!

Karen trying to choose just one of the amazing looking cakes!

It rained a bit on parkrun but the promise was for a dry morning on Sunday which would be perfect – last year it was pretty wet, but I still loved it! A dry, cool morning would be ideal!

A tad wet and chilly!
Some of Team Adelaide after parkrun!

The rest of Saturday was spent wandering around the shops, dodging showers. I remembered Ecologie Organics, the organic store, from last year, and that when I went last time, they were going to start serving hot food about a month later. Sure enough, they had a lot of lovely vegan lunch goodies, I went for a vegetable soup which was perfect on a cold, wet winter’s day!

Sorry for the language – I saw this coaster in a shop and couldn’t help myself!

We stayed at the same place as last year, very conveniently located within easy walking distance of both parkrun and the start of the race. On Saturday night we went back to Metro for dinner and were joined by SA running legend Kym, who had originally signed up to do the marathon but had decided to join the cool kids in the half instead.

On race morning Kym had to get down to the start line early to change from the marathon to the half, and rather than hang around at the start line in the cold, he came down to hang out at our place while we got ready to walk up. Somehow he had managed to put his back ‘out’ while going under some bunting, so Karen helped him out with some Deep Heat before we all wandered to the start line.

At the start line Race Director Phil gave the briefing and a couple of warnings about dangerous sections of the course – one of them being the concrete pretty much RIGHT on the start line – he commented that it would be pretty bad to trip over literally ON the start line! There was also a downhill trail section early on with a lot of tree roots to be careful of, but that was the trickiest bit.

With Karl and Rose (Team Vegan!) at the start! Pic stolen from Karl!
Karen and I trying to blend in!

My time from last year was just over 2 hours 20, so I was hoping to improve on that this time around, although I hadn’t been doing a lot of trail/hill running recently (my main focus being the 12 hour event in mid July) so I couldn’t really expect anything too spectacular! Also, I was running with arm warmers as per usual, and my newish Garmin watch has a built-in heart rate monitor which needs to be against the skin to work, so consequently my watch was covered for pretty much the whole race. That suited me fine – it worked for me at UTA100!

Away we went at 8:00!

The start of the half marathon. Photo: K8 Photographics

Very early on in the race (before we hit the trail) fellow Adelaide runner Andy, who I had met and run with last year at Mt Gambier parkrun, commented that he had seen my post. I asked him “Which one?” thinking he was referring to a Facebook post. “The Heysen one” he replied, at which point I realised he was talking about an ACTUAL POST, the post in the field around the 60km mark on the Heysen 105, where Justin had immortalised me with a plaque to commemorate the spot where I had infamously got lost during my first Heysen! I really must get down there and visit said post – I haven’t run the 105 since the plaque was put up, so I haven’t really had any reason to go down there!

I won’t talk too much about the course itself because I covered that pretty well last time. It’s a very ‘up and down’ course, with not a lot of flat in between! I ended up walking a lot of the hills, especially the big one up to the Centenary Tower (the ‘Tower’ after which the Tower Trail Run is named!) as I felt I really couldn’t have run them any faster than I walked them.

The elevation profile. This is for the half (2 laps) and around 800m total elevation gain. A few little walk breaks in there!

We encountered a few of the marathon and ultra runners out there but they were few and far between. Probably because there were vastly more runners in the 21.1k and the 10.5k (the 10.5k didn’t start until after I’d commenced my second loop) than in the marathon and ultra. The marathon was by far the smallest – only 10 starters – probably because a lot of the runners who would previously have done the marathon would have been tempted by the prospect of running the inaugural Tower ultra!

I opted to wear my small race vest with 2 small bottles of Gatorade, as well as a couple of bars just in case, but I wasn’t expecting to need those for that distance. It wasn’t hard to slip them into the pockets of my pack and they didn’t weigh me down too much!

Love this pic, really captures the enjoyment! Photo: K8 Photographics

Around halfway through the first lap I met up with Andy again, and we would end up running pretty much the rest of the race together. It was really enjoyable, once again I hadn’t planned to run it with anyone, but it’s always nice to randomly meet up with someone along the way that is of the same pace and have great chats with them!

Unfortunately I was looking down at this point but this is a great illustration of how much I enjoyed myself out there! Photo: Darren Galwey Photographics

Have I mentioned the volunteers yet? They were FABULOUS. There were a few aid stations along the way, I didn’t need to use any of their services as I’d come prepared to be self-sufficient (as I prefer to do – I don’t like to stop if I can avoid it!) but it was always nice to see their friendly faces. The marshals were also very friendly with very clear directions so I never felt like I was in danger of getting lost (which, considering my history at Heysen as outlined earlier, is very important!). There were also HEAPS of photographers out there, and the photos were fantastic (the course is very photogenic in itself!). As I approached one photographer, my nose was running a bit (as it tends to do in the cold) and I called out “Can you please Photoshop out the snot?” to which Andy responded “Can you photoshop it IN?”

Another lovely touch was when we were approaching the end of the first loop and there was a table out in a field with lollies on it for the runners – that’s just one of those things that makes this event so special!

Other than the other runners, we kept encountering a guy called Troy, a mate of Andy’s who was out supporting. It would have been nice of him to bring a couple of ropes to tow us up the hill, but the support was appreciated nonetheless!

It was nice at the halfway mark to see the 10.5k runners waiting to start, a few familiar faces among them! They gave us a great cheer as we went past to start what Andy described as the ‘victory lap’ (We just had a ‘warmup lap’ and a ‘victory lap’. No proper racing laps!)

Towards the end of the second lap, probably with a few kms to go (I didn’t look at my watch but I knew the Tower was about 3km from the finish and we’d passed that) I started to get a bit hungry but I knew we were close enough that I would make it to the end. Still, it was good to know I had snacks if I needed them! From that point on I decided to run, even on the uphills (which weren’t too bad after the Tower) because I knew I didn’t need to conserve energy anymore!

Always good to see a funny sign out on course! This was near the start/finish area, and I will admit I didn’t get it first time around!

The second and final lap finished with a bit of a sprint when Troy reappeared to give Andy a bit of a push to the finish. This was roughly the spot where Graham and I had fought it out in an epic finish line sprint last year! It was nice to know that again I still had a bit left in my legs!

Thanks to Karen for this finish photo of some of Team Adelaide – from left, Graham, me, Kym, Wendy, Karen, Daryl and Ian (all half marathon finishers)
A few of the girls! Sandy, Fiona and Bee had all run the whole thing together! Thanks Karen for the pic!
Wendy, me, Merle and Karen showing off our bling – thanks to Karen for the pic!
There were a lot of us there from Adelaide and this wasn’t even everyone! Thanks Karen for the pic!

In the end I was a couple of minutes slower than last year, but given that I wasn’t looking at my watch, hadn’t really done a heck of a lot of trail training, and really enjoyed myself out there, I couldn’t really be disappointed!

Thanks to Phil and Nikki and all of the fantastic volunteers for making this event a highlight on my calendar – definitely got it pencilled in for next year (will be inked in once the date is confirmed!) I had planned to go to Pichi Richi but I can’t resist coming back to the Mount! I would highly recommend this event to anyone who likes a bit of trail fun and for those in Adelaide it’s a great excuse for a weekend away in a pretty fabulous location!

A post-script to the event. Last year I was unfairly branded a monster by Karen at our post-run stop at seaside Port Macdonnell, because I told her not to feed the seagulls chips until we’d all had enough. You know, because they’re pests and they won’t leave you alone if you give them one! Well Karen and Wendy decided to have their revenge this time around.

We’d finished eating so it was OK. All is good., The seagulls are happy.
‘Throw chips at Jane!’ they said. ‘The seagulls will attack her!”

But it all worked out OK in the end because one of them shat on Karen.

Karma, I say. Karma.

Tri, tri, tri again!

So if you’ve been following this blog for the last few weeks you may have noticed a common link between the last 3 posts. A little town called Victor Harbor. 3 weeks ago I participated in the Victor Harbor Triathlons, a week later I was back again for the last race in the Yumigo! Summer Trail Series and then just last weekend I was back yet again for The Granite Island Run.

Well, I was lured back down there again this Easter weekend by a very intriguing invitation from Victor triathlete (and ultramarathoner!) Shane. A Triple Mix triathlon.

What is a Triple Mix triathlon, you say? I wondered the same, and I had to Google!

It is essentially 3 triathlons, with 10 minutes break in between.

  • Stage 1 – Swim (300m), Bike (6km), Run (2km)
  • Stage 2 – Run (2km), Bike (6km), Swim (300m)
  • Stage 3 – Bike (6km), Swim (300m), Run (2km)

In the Super League format, the 10 minute timer starts when the first athlete finishes the stage. However, in this (informal, trial) event, it would be as the LAST athlete crosses the line, meaning the faster athletes get a longer break, and even the slowest athlete gets 10 minutes. (I’m glad that change was made to the format otherwise I probably wouldn’t have made it to the second stage!)

I thought, sounds like fun, let’s do it!

This would be my third triathlon. (And possibly fourth and fifth as well, depending on how you look at it!) My first was at West Lakes in November and my second was the aforementioned one at Victor 3 weeks ago.

Given the length of the swim, and also the logistics of having the swim as NOT the first leg in the second two stages, it was pretty obvious even to me, the total noob, that wetsuits would not work in this format! That was one less thing I had to remember to bring!

I decided to make a day of it and go to parkrun in the morning. Victor is a nice flat out and back course, and FAST (unless you’re unlucky enough to encounter a fierce headwind one way, which often happens!) I was there in plenty of time, I was not going for a PB (I’m a long way off PB pace!) but I always like to race Victor hard. As it happens I missed the start as Simon had asked me to hold his 2 dogs’ leads for him while he got himself organised, and the start took a lot of us by surprise! I ended up starting about 12 seconds after the main group, meaning I had to work hard to get closer to the front where I could stretch the legs out a bit (always good after an 80 minute drive!) Shane had jokingly said before the start that I would do 22 minutes, which I thought was way ambitious, but my watch at the end showed 22:07 (my official time being a bit slower than that) which I put down to the ideal running conditions AND the fact that I had to play catch-up for at least the first half! So ironically, starting late PROBABLY resulted in my getting a better time than I otherwise would have!

Nothing left in the tank!

parkrun was followed by coffee and delicious hot chips at the Yilki Store which was super busy – no doubt because of the long weekend and the fact that Victor is a popular holiday destination for Adelaide people! (Victor Harbor parkrun had a record attendance of 170 – it seemed like ALL of them were there at coffee!)

Then I spent the day wandering around town, town was buzzing as it was Easter weekend and there happened to be a big Easter hunt happening, involving a large number of families! I hit up a few op shops, a few other shops and had a lovely vegan burger at a place called Primal Bliss. And almost everywhere I went, I ran into Simon and Shane’s parents! I wasn’t stalking, I promise!

Cool artwork at the Victor Harbor Artisans Market!

I then made my way to the reserve where I had last been 3 weeks ago, for the triathlon. I won’t bore you with details of all the 9 legs and 6 transitions, I’ll just cover the highlights this time!

There were 4 of us at the start of the triathlon – I was the only female. The other 3 were Shane, his younger brother Ben (Mr Mekong, visiting from Melbourne) and another guy Chad who I hadn’t met before. Shane’s son Finn would join us for the second stage.

I was the first to rack my bike, so I had to ask the awesome timekeeper and helper Jono which way around the bike goes! (Normally I’m not the first person to rack my bike so I just copy what other people have done!) He noticed both my tyres were a bit low on air so very kindly pumped them up for me! I didn’t really need any more disadvantage than I already had!

The bike compound! My bike closest to camera, Jono right of shot pumping up my tyres! Ben (left, in super fast Mekong trisuit) and Chad getting ready!

Stage 1 was the traditional swim/bike/run, with the swim starting in the water, as it had 3 weeks ago. Very quickly the 3 other guys put a bit of distance between themselves and me! They were going to get a nice long rest after Stage 1…

My watch doesn’t do swimming very well. I am pretty sure my swim was not THAT wonky!

The bike course was nice and simple – I had asked Shane to show me on a map so I could visualise it for myself, not being a local and not being all that familiar with the town (despite having spent quite a bit of time there in the past month!) It was a T shaped course – along Bartel Blvd, left at the roundabout to where parkrun starts (one part of town I am VERY familiar with!) and then a U-turn, along the seafront Franklin Parade, and then another U-turn at Nevin St, back along Franklin and left up Bartel and back to the start. I need to work on my U-turns! I had to slow down a fair bit, not that it would have made any difference!

The un-get-lost-on-able bike course!

The run was even simpler, just under 2km, out and back along Matthew Flinders Drive, with a U-turn at the roundabout at Tabernacle Rd (which, for the record, does NOT have any street signs indicating the name of the road!) The guys were well ahead of me and were on their way back as I was on my way out. Shane was leading and he told me to turn at the “Keep Left” sign, rather than going all the way around the roundabout. I guessed by how far I’d run, that the roundabout where I turned WAS actually the right one, and as it turned out, it was!

A MUCH more straightforward run than in the Victor Harbor Triathlons!

Stage 1 complete, a nice 10 minute rest, time to re-set my Garmin for the next stage (reverse of Stage 1: run, bike, swim). Miraculously, after several failed attempts, I had FINALLY managed to correctly record a multisport event on my Garmin! Given that we finished Stage 1 with the run and Stage 2 started with the run, there wasn’t even any gear changing to do!

The guys were nice enough to let me lead out the run, and I was first into transition. The lead didn’t last long – Shane came into transition seconds after me, and the other two guys overtook me on the bike within a few hundred metres of my leaving transition!

And that was the last time I was in front for the day!

After another uneventful bike ride (the best kind!) it was time for my first ever bike to swim transition! (I’d done all the other transitions before, in triathlon/aquathlon/duathlon, but never this one!) Rack the bike (thanks to Jono for the tips on that!), shoes off, helmet off (would have looked a bit silly going into the water with the helmet on!) grabbed goggles, and started running to the water. Sunnies still on, thanks Jono for reminding me to take them off! Back into the water, to swim another 300m. This swim was a bit slower, probably because I wasn’t following closely behind fast swimmers, I was just doing my own thing. Actually this swim felt easier than the first one, probably because mentally I was prepared that once I’d finished, it was time for another break!

Amazingly enough, my overall time for Stage 2 was 1 second faster than the first one! So if nothing else, I am consistent!

I got a few more tips from Jono during the break. Firstly, to put my head under water in the swim, as lifting my head would cause my legs to drop. I was already aware of this, and I thought I was putting my head in, but then I realised I was looking up way too much, to try to see where I was going. The second tip was to put my goggles in the pocket in the back of my trisuit, so they’d be ready to go once I got off the bike. (Ben had done this in Stage 2).

Stage 3 (the last one) was Bike/Swim/Run. The bike started with a rolling start, we started riding up Bartel Blvd until a particular tree, or car, or side street, indicated that it was time to start racing. Aaaaaand I never saw the other guys again! Actually that’s not true, I saw them coming back along Franklin Pde as I was heading out. Also on Franklin Pde I saw a familiar face, David, a running friend from Adelaide. Actually I recognised his car and then called out to him as I rode past. Small world!

I came back into transition, racked my bike and ran down to the water. Jono told me to head to the left of the buoy, as Marcus was out there moving it back in closer for me. The other guys had already finished their swim, and I believe the buoy had been moved further away for them, maybe to even the playing field a bit? Or maybe just to mess with them? Either way, I was grateful it was moved back for me – I’m not sure I was up for a longer swim!

I made a conscious effort to put my head in the water more, I decided to lift my head every 4th breath (instead of every breath as I had previously been doing). I breathe on both sides, so I breathe every 3rd stroke. So that meant I was looking up every 12th stroke. I figured, at the glacial speed at which I move in the water, I wasn’t going to veer too far off course in 12 strokes! It seemed to work well – I don’t think I was any faster, but there may have been an element of fatigue there! It’s definitely something I will be practising!

As I passed the second buoy and headed in towards the beach, my goggles were full of water. I gave up, took them off and swam a little bit with my head out. I then decided that I had WAY too far to go, to be able to do that! So I stopped, emptied my goggles and went back to swimming properly.

And then my hand touched the bottom and I was back in comfortable territory – feet on the ground, running the last metre or so out of the water, across the beach and back to the bike rack where I quickly donned my shoes, hat and sunnies, and headed out for the last leg of the last stage – the best one, the run!

My last run was faster than my second run (the second run, remember, being the first leg of Stage 2, so I WAS holding back a bit) but slower than my first. My overall time was slower than the first two stages (not surprising!) but there was only 24 seconds difference between the 3 stages, so I’m pretty happy with that consistency!

It wasn’t a race – but I won on the consistency front! Also I was first female finisher in all 3 stages 🙂

And then it was time to relax and have a chat with the other guys about the event. I was interested to find out how it would work in a ‘proper’ event, ie how would you decide the winner? Would it be on overall combined times, or just the winner of the last race? Apparently one of the formats eliminates the slowest competitors in each stage, so I would have not got past Stage 1!

Relaxing at the end of a very fun and challenging event!

I would definitely be keen to do something like this again, it was a great challenge, I learned a LOT (including the fact that I obviously need a Mekong trisuit if I want to get faster!), and it was interesting to see what a difference mixing up the disciplines makes!

Thanks heaps to Shane for organising this event and inviting me to be part of it, to Shane, Ben and Chad (and Finn, who joined us for part of the event) for being great competitors, and to Jono and Marcus for all their help in making this event happen!

A little parkrun tourism…

I’ve written about parkrun before, but just in case you have been living under a rock for the last little while, here’s a brief rundown.

parkrun (ALWAYS one word and a lower case ‘p’) is a global phenomenon. The concept is simple – a free, timed, 5k run every weekend, same time, same place, until the end of time. (Side note: if you haven’t registered yet, go to www.parkrun.com and get on board!)

Australia first got parkrun in 2011 and South Australia followed close behind in late 2012 with Torrens parkrun. I was there along with 43 other runners and 4 volunteers. Now, Torrens is regularly getting over 300 runners and at the end of last year SA got its 20th parkrun.

parkrun tourism is a thing. There is a list on the parkrun website of ‘most events’ – the parkrunners who have done the most different parkruns. It is a great honour to get your name on this list (you have to do a minimum of 20 different parkruns to qualify for the Australian list, and 30 to get on the global list). I am on the Australian list and am working towards getting onto the global list by the end of the year. With parkrun exploding in SA as it did last year (jumping from 11 to 20 events in just one year) I don’t think that will be too hard!)

parkrun tourism is also a great way to see places you might not otherwise go to. For example, when in Washington DC last year I decided to do the Roosevelt Island parkrun and if not for that, I never would have known that Roosevelt Island existed! I’d also been to Renmark for the first time because of parkrun!

Anyway, this weekend SA welcomed its 21st parkrun, at seaside Edithburgh, on Yorke Peninsula. I hadn’t been to Yorkes since I worked at Minlaton in late 2008, and it didn’t hurt that Adelaide was experiencing 40+ temperatures at the time – perfect weekend to get out of town!

As always with new parkrun launches, there is always a large contingent of tourists. Usually the tourists outnumber the locals! Week 2 is probably the best indicator of what the ‘usual’ number will be, where you get to see how many of the locals will be there week in and week out.

Edithburgh is about 250km away from Adelaide, approximately a 2.5 to 3 hour drive. With parkrun starting at 8am, I didn’t fancy leaving home before 5am (therefore probably getting up at 4am – on a Saturday!) to get there in time, so I decided to stay overnight on Friday. At the semi-last minute I managed to book a cabin at the Coobowie Caravan Park, an easy 5 minute drive from the parkrun location at Edithburgh.

By the time I arrived at about 6:30pm on Friday the temperature had dropped considerably – a welcome relief! There is a tidal pool at Edithburgh – I did go for a quick dip in there but it was actually a bit too cool by the time I got in!

On Saturday morning, I got up around 6ish, thinking to myself that I would already have been up for 2 hours if I hadn’t stayed overnight! NO THANKS!

Some crazy people (actually quite a lot of crazy people) HAD made the drive up on the morning. Admittedly some of them live a bit further north than me, so it wasn’t QUITE so long a drive, but some of them live even further away than me! And some of them were driving back home the same day!

26815040_1899391620101542_5544332991212606364_n
With Justin (Mawson Lakes ED), Neil (ML and Carisbrooke RD, and fellow former Torrens RD) at the start.

A lot of people had decided to make a weekend of it, with SA’s 22nd parkrun, Port Broughton, which is launching in a few weeks, having a trial run on the Sunday. Port Broughton is quite far from Edithburgh but a bit closer to Adelaide.

There were 70-odd people there for the inaugural event, with just under half of those being locals. That’s a great sign – what you don’t really want in a parkrun is a huge crowd of tourists at the launch, and then NOBODY the next week!

26992730_1899388046768566_9099439756323267905_n
With well known parkrun tourist (and paparazzo) Gary – one of the crazies who drove the 250+ km Saturday morning, stayed in town about 3 hours then turned around and went back!

It is a simple out and back course, mostly along the coast. We had a tail wind on the way out and consequently a head wind on the way back. The finish was a little bit brutal (if you can use such a word to describe a beautiful seaside parkrun!) in that you could see the finish line from about 500m away, and also you had to go up a hill into the wind to finish! Funny, I didn’t recall running downhill with the wind at the start! Funny how that happens!

I managed just over 23 minutes but made the rookie mistake of stopping my watch without looking – Garmin made the distance 4.98km, which of course would be rounded down by Strava to 4.9km! Of course that’s just GPS error as I’m certain that the course IS really 5k!

26815070_1899387906768580_194972886740894187_n
With my oldest running friend (oldest in terms of how long we’ve known each other, not age!) Justin, who drove up on Saturday and then was staying for the Port Broughton trial on Sunday

After a bit of socialising at the finish line and a few group photos – I’m sure wrangling 70+ parkrunners (plus doggos) for a photo is akin to taking a school class photo – we headed to the local coffee shop for the obligatory post-parkrun coffee.

Location Café is a perfect place for coffee – plenty of space for parkrunners, great coffee, inside AND outside options, and looked like a pretty good brekky! I made my way around the tables and didn’t leave there until nearly midday (I think that’s a new record for me and post-parkrun coffee!)

26804855_10155380559220895_7612769913376088254_n
Post parkrun coffee with Alicia whose hair matched the colour of the sea!

From there I took the long route back home – stopping for lunch in Moonta, a quick dip in the swimming enclosure at Wallaroo (actually just a paddle – the water was divine!) and a coffee. (I wasn’t going in the water but I heard someone calling my name – I thought I was imagining things but it was fellow tourist Kelly, stopping for a dip on the way to Port Broughton, so I went down to say hi!)

All up I covered 550+km (on a single tank of petrol!) but it was well worth it!

Congratulations to Edithburgh parkrun EDs Zoe and Danielle for this fantastic new event! Hopefully I’ll make it back down there again soon!

Hello Mojo!

Well it’s now been 4 weeks since the 12 hour epic and I was beginning to wonder if and when I’d ever get back to running ‘properly’ again!

Saturday was my first ‘proper’ parkrun since the one I ran in Mount Gambier about 6 weeks ago. Even that day, I was holding back a bit, saving myself for the Tower Trail half marathon the following day.

I opted to make the journey down to Victor Harbor parkrun, because they were celebrating their 3rd birthday, with birthdays always come cake, and with Victor Harbor birthdays come VEGAN cake! It’s also a fast, flat course (albeit often with a fairly nasty headwind one way) so it was the perfect way to try to get a bit of speed back!

20684289_679270462265161_254004999_o
Beautiful morning for it!
20727752_679270455598495_1289554129_o
One of my favourite parkruns!

I ran a respectable 23:16, much slower than I have previously run in my 8 parkruns at Victor, but my fastest in nearly 2 months and my second fastest in 4 months. The wind wasn’t much of a factor, I felt like I had something left in the tank, and the cakes were well worth the long drive!

20705956_679270448931829_2114067223_o
Where was the pot of gold?
20707054_679270438931830_986729017_o
Even better than gold – a veritable crapload of vegan cupcakes!
20630066_10155234598908612_985617126_o
And afterwards I got to test drive one of the AWESOME new Vegan Beast Mode Team tops by Mekong Athletic!

Next on the agenda was something completely different. I was volunteering at a trail race at Mount Crawford the following day. A lot of people had planned to camp there the night before, and I thought that might be a bit fun, so I signed up despite not having a tent! Not to worry, Tracey had one I could borrow. On the day, Tracey (along with a LOT of other people) decided the weather was too gnarly for camping, but still offered to get the tent to me somehow. I decided that if the weather was looking pretty horrendous, I might as well sleep in the car – at least the car wouldn’t leak or blow away (hopefully!)

So from Victor I made my way home to collect my stuff and then made the long drive up to Mount Crawford, planning to get there well before dark so I could get my bearings! I made it in plenty of time, and parked near where fellow runners Kristy and Trevor were swagging. Most of the hardcore campers were still going with tents!

We went to the local pub in Birdwood for a meal (I had a very nice curry) and then back to the campsite, by which time the rain had started. It would continue for much of the night and on and off the next day. I went to find the hut with the open fire, trying to warm up a bit with a glass of wine and some chocolate while Linda was toasting marshmallows! Even though it was still early it seemed much later (I guess I’d had a long day of driving!) so I hit the ‘hay’ reasonably early, listening to the end of the footy on the car radio and reading a few chapters of my book before attempting to get comfortable in the Corolla!

20684673_679270465598494_902418022_o
Snug as a bug in a rug! Still with very cold feet!

It wasn’t the worst, I had the seat reclined right back and changed position often. I figured it couldn’t be any worse than trying to sleep on a plane!

I woke up naturally just before my alarm and all I had to do was throw some clothes on and make my way across the campsite to the registration tent. I was lucky enough to have 2 ‘undercover’ jobs – firstly registration manager, then MC. I felt for the people manning the drink stations and the car park – in the rain!

20684660_679270475598493_103494534_o
Look at all those bibs!

There were over 900 people registered but the forecast nasty weather deterred quite a lot of them – there were a few hundred no-shows, and quite a few people decided on the day to ‘downgrade’ to a shorter distance. Amazingly, 6 people registered at the last minute, even knowing EXACTLY what they were getting themselves into!

The 35k run was the first to start, a short hailstorm coinciding nicely with the start of that event! Then an hour later was the 24k, then an hour after that the 13k. As soon as the 13k had started, we packed up the leftover bibs, and the registration tent was taken down. I had about half an hour to spare before I would need to be in position to call the first finishers over the line.

The timing system was really good. There was a timing point about 100m from the finish line, and the timing guy, Malcolm, gave me an iPad with live results on it. At that stage nothing was happening, but when the runners started to reach the last timing point, their names would pop up on the iPad so I could announce them as they approached the finish. At times there were a LOT of runners coming through at once, hopefully I didn’t miss any of them!

20684610_679270458931828_1520969636_o
Seriously though… who gives me a microphone?

I had fun! I had wondered how I was supposed to know who was coming, considering I didn’t know more than half of the runners, but the system worked really well! Unfortunately we had a few technical issues with the PA system, and I wasn’t able to call the later finishers over the line, as Claire had needed to take the microphone away to do the official presentations. But it’s definitely a job I’d be happy to do again!

I stayed right till the bitter end, when 35k sweeper Ziad came back. I realised how important it is to make sure you let someone know if you don’t start or finish, because first aid officer Susan was calling around all the people who were ‘unaccounted for’, some of whom had not actually started the race! By the time Ziad got back, all the runners were accounted for which was good!\par
\par
MASSIVE congratulations to all the runners who completed this event, the conditions were challenging to say the least! And also kudos to the volunteers that had much harder jobs than I did!

20706667_679275412264666_1827287915_n
Other than warm clothes, gumboots were probably the most important piece of kit I had on the day!

This morning I finally went to see physio and running buddy Beck to try to get this hip flexor issue that has been bugging me since the 12 hour, sorted once and for all! Happily it seems to be something that will be relatively easily fixed if I do the right thing and do my exercises!

Which brings me to next weekend – the City2Surf. Up until Saturday’s parkrun I was debating how I would approach it. The 2 options were: Plan A to run it ‘properly’ if I thought a sub-70 minute finish was achievable (it’s 14km so that’s 5 minute kms), and if I thought that was unlikely, Plan B I would dress up and just run for fun, like so many people do in this event! After Saturday I am confident that Plan A is a goer!

Runsploration!

One of the many great things about running is ‘runsploration’, ie exploring new places by running.

parkrun tourism is one part of runsploration. Sometimes it’s going to a place specifically for a parkrun, and sometimes it’s finding the nearest parkrun to where you happen to find yourself on a Saturday morning. Last weekend I was in Brisbane and I thought I’d give New Farm parkrun a go – it was reasonable walking distance (and easy running distance) from where I was staying, and it was on the mighty Brisbane River. The early start was a bit of a challenge but I could see why all the Queensland parkruns start at 7 (rather than the 8am I am used to) – even by 7 it was pretty warm!

The start of the beautiful New Farm parkrun!

I wasn’t sure exactly where the start was, so I allowed plenty of time. I ran there, just under 4km, and immediately regretted my decision not to wear insect repellent – I was plastered with small flying insects! On the way I stopped to check out the Powerhouse markets – at 6:30am they were a hive of activity! In Adelaide it would be rare to see many people on the streets at that time on a Saturday – most of them would probably be still in bed! No daylight saving in Queensland (meaning effectively an earlier sunrise) and the heat means that people tend to be out and about super early!

The bustling market at 6:30am!

The parkrun itself was nice – probably the largest one I’ve been to, with a crowd of just under 400. And they even had someone leading a group warmup!

The pre-parkrun aerobics class!

(I didn’t feel the need to partake, I had warmed up more than sufficiently on the way there!) The start was a bit congested and there were a few tight corners early on but it was a nice straightforward course along the river (in fact, it retraced part of the route I had taken to get there) with lots of friendly, encouraging marshals and a couple of high fives!

Hot, sweaty but scenic 🙂

On Sunday I got up at what can only be described as ‘arse o’clock’, partly to beat the heat, and partly because I had places to be, and snuck in a 20k long run. I was ‘meant’ to do 30k but I figured after 100k last weekend I could do a slightly shorter one. It was already pretty warm by the time I started at 5:40 and by the time I finished it was as if I’d been in the shower fully clothed! I ran the familiar course along the river but a little further this time, and broke it up with a double crossing of the famous Story Bridge. 

Early on in my long runsploration in Brisbane. Dripping with sweat already!

So I managed to see a bit more of Brisbane than I otherwise might have, and at the same time got a few runs in!
I’ve done a bit of runsploration elsewhere. In London I did my last few runs before the Liverpool Marathon, although they were super slow and convoluted owing to the frequent photo stops (which I guess are par for the course when it comes to runsploration!) 


One of many photo stops on my runsploration of London!

When in Sydney for a conference a few years back, as well as managing a sneaky parkrun in my old neighbourhood, I managed a couple of morning runs that crossed the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge (unlike the Story Bridge though, the Sydney Harbour Bridge only allows pedestrians on one side – the other side is for cyclists).

The sights of my Sydney runsploration – and the obligatory post-run coffee!

In a few months I will be runsploring my way across the USA! Among other things, I plan to sneak in a run in Central Park in New York, some trails in Portland, and another bridge crossing, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fran (last time in San Fran I cycled across the Golden Gate so it will be cool to be able to run it too!) Obviously the Boston Marathon will take me to parts of the city that I might not otherwise have seen and I hope I am able to take a lot of it in!
And if things go to plan I’ll sneak in a parkrun – my first one outside Australia – in Washington D.C!

Where have you runsplored? And where would you LIKE to runsplore?

All of the parkruns!

A map showing all the current parkruns in Australia. SA may be complete (for now) but I have plenty of work to do!

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!

CHRISTIES BEACH

Christies Beach parkrun – beautiful day for a run along the coast!

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! 

CLARE VALLEY

The start of the first Clare Valley parkrun!

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!

LOCHIEL

Dragged my Mum out to my local Lochiel parkrun – she said she found the concrete track more difficult than the bitumen at Torrens.

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!

MOUNT BARKER

Christmas Day fun at Mount Barker!

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! 

MOUNT GAMBIER

Early on at Mount Gambier – having already negotiated a decent sized hill!

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!

MURRAY BRIDGE 

Olympic theme dress up day at Murray Bridge!

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!

RENMARK

The only sub-zero parkrun I’ve done, at Renmark!

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!

STRATHALBYN

The second of three turnarounds at Strath!

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!

TORRENS

One of many dress-up occasions at Torrens! Or maybe there was no occasion!

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!

VICTOR HARBOR

How’s that for a view? The Bluff, at Victor Harbor.

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!)

WEST BEACH

With Victor RD Simon, regular running buddy Karen and parkrun legend Brendan after the West Beach launch!

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!

The barefoot experiment!

Saturday’s parkrun. Avec shoes.

Just a short one this week as I haven’t done a lot of running and have been occupied with some pretty absorbing Test cricket!
I had a crap Masters on Wednesday night – failed to crack 4 minutes for the 1k (after having done 3:45 on my only other attempt at the distance a few weeks back) and then did 2k at close to my 5k pace (although it was a PB, being my first ever 2k!)

The previous night I did a particularly tough trail circuit – running up the bricks at Ambers Ridge (a VERY steep climb) broken up by lunges, push-ups, squats (but mercifully no sodding burpees!) which may have contributed to what happened on Wednesday night. The trail circuit (with Distance Runners Unlimited) is a new addition to my regular routine and I think it is really going to help my ability to run up hills! Maybe not so good for my ability to run fast the following day!

On Friday I went to my regular Yumigo! speed training session. This week’s session was 5 x 1000m. Normally the idea is to run each rep at a consistent pace. 

My first two were pretty consistent – 4:22 and 4:21. The next two were actually faster – 4:17 and 4:15! After the 4th rep I noticed one of the other girls had taken off her shoes. A few others had done the same, so I thought what the hell, I haven’t done any barefoot running since just before Heysen 105, so I followed suit! The session is run on soft grass, so it is ideal for barefoot training!

1k is 2.5 laps of the oval, so we ran past the ‘finish line’ 3 times. Second time past the finish line on that last rep, coach Paul commented that my form looked much better when I ran barefoot! Makes sense too – with shoes I tend to run more towards the back of my foot, and then to compensate for that I lean forward a bit (for balance). Take off the shoes and my weight is immediately more towards the front of the foot, bringing my hips forward and making me more upright. I could feel the difference instantly!

Not only that but I managed to do the last rep in 4:01 – about the same as I did on the track on Wednesday night, only this time it was at the end of a pretty intense session!

I forgot to mention what I did on Thursday. I mentioned cricket – well I was at the cricket until it finished at 9:30pm then went for some late night Chinese – I annihilated a serve of vegetarian fried rice at about 10:30, got to bed about 11:30 and up at 4:45. So I guess late night fried rice and not much sleep is ideal prep for fast running!

I did consider trying a barefoot parkrun on Saturday but chickened out – managed 22:10 though which was very pleasing, my fastest 5k in almost 4 months! Lochiel parkrun would be ideal for barefoot because it’s on concrete rather than bitumen – I presume that would be nicer on the feet! Next time maybe – meanwhile I’d better get my shoes off and back onto the grass!

Ten things I love about parkrun!

It’s a quiet week this week – ultramarathon taper week – so I thought it was time to revisit something very close to my heart, something that was instrumental in getting me into the running routine. A little global phenomenon known as parkrun (ALWAYS one word and with a lower case ‘p’ – accept no imitations!)

Here is a post I wrote about parkrun last year.

For the uninitiated, parkrun (link to global website here) is a free, weekly, timed, 5km run/walk in many places throughout the world. All you have to do is register ONCE via the website, print your personal barcode, and remember to take it with you when you visit any parkrun in the world! How easy is that? Matter of fact, if you haven’t registered yet, go and do it now. Go on! I’ll wait…

1) perfect way to start the weekend

8am on a Saturday (and in some parts of the world, 7am) might seem a stretch to some, but hear me out. Once you get into the routine, you don’t even think about NOT going. You know how you wake up on a Monday (or another day, if you don’t work Mondays) and you get up and go to work? You might not want to get up but you don’t seriously consider not going in? Well, that’s how parkrun is for many thousands of people around the world. It’s just what we do. Hungover, tired, cold… we still go (well, mostly) and we can always have a nap later in the day if we really need to! (PS moscato is not always on the menu!)

2) awesome company

Even if you don’t know a single person, that shouldn’t stop you! When I did my very first parkrun nearly 4 years ago (also the first ever parkrun in South Australia) I didn’t know a single person. Now, I know pretty much everyone at Torrens parkrun – and many other parkruns too! (If you’re not game to turn up alone, drag a friend or family member along! Trust me, they’ll thank you for it!)

3) running is not necessary
So you’re not a runner? Not a problem! parkrun is for EVERYONE, walkers, joggers, pram pushers… parkrun is not over until the last person crosses the line. So even if you feel that you’re too slow – you’re not! And many people start out as back-of-the-pack walkers and then decide to try a little jog – and then a little more – and all of a sudden, BOOM! Runner! 

4) keeping track of progress

One of the best things about parkrun is that your results are recorded each week so you can monitor how you are tracking! This is great for those at the ‘pointy end’ as well as beginners. A PB is a huge buzz! I know I got pretty excited in the early days when I was PBing regularly. Not so much now but that elusive PB is still in my sights!

5) really, it’s all about the coffee…

To me, from very early on, parkrun has been all about catching up with friends for a coffee. With a 5k run beforehand. If you’re in a new town, whether as a visitor or a new resident, or even if you just want to expand your social circle, it’s just a great way to meet people! Volunteering (something that is expected of regular parkrunners, as a way to keep parkrun going) is an especially good way to make new connections. I could not even begin to count the number of awesome friends I’ve met through running, and through parkrun in particular!

6) universal 

In Australia and the UK in particular, it seems like there’s a parkrun EVERYWHERE! It’s a great way to get to see new places  (many plan their holidays around ‘what parkrun can I do?’) – for example, this year I went to the launch of parkrun in Renmark, a town to which I’d never been before! In the parkrun universe it’s known as ‘parkrun tourism’. When I go to the USA next year (an emerging parkrun market) I hope to be able to fit in a few parkruns along the way!

7) not a race!

While those at the ‘pointy end’ are taking it VERY seriously, parkrun is whatever you want it to be. Speed training? Taking the dog for a walk? Exploring a new city? Just having a little fun? parkrun can be all those things and more! Many people who would not even consider entering a 5k fun run will happily come along to parkrun every week! 

8) never need to run alone

In the beginning I ‘discovered’ Torrens parkrun while Googling ‘5km run route in Adelaide’. I had literally JUST started running and was looking for a route to run on the weekend. Torrens happened to be launching that Saturday so I went along to see what it was all about. The rest, as they say, is history. At the time I really didn’t enjoy running alone and I’m not sure if I would have stuck at it in the early days had I not had parkrun (which very quickly became a fixture in my weekends). 

9) every saturday, same time, same place

With few exceptions (recent unprecedented storms in Adelaide forcing the cancellation of Torrens parkrun for the first time ever, as well as 2 other metropolitan parkruns, a few weeks back) parkrun on a Saturday morning is a given. You can set your watch by it! Note that the start time varies from state to state and country to country, but any given parkrun starts at the same time and the same place every week.

10) registration could not be easier 

All you really need is an email address, Internet access and access to a printer. Go onto the parkrun website and do it – NOW!

In all seriousness though, I am a huge advocate for parkrun as a way to encourage people to get out and be active (I am also part of the Run Director team at Torrens) and want to encourage anyone who has thought of giving it a go, to do it! If you happen to join me at Torrens, be sure to come and say hi! And if there’s not a parkrun near you, why not think about starting one?

parkrun

image

Having recently completed my second marathon, I now take you way back, not quite to where it all began, but to not long after that! It was late November 2012 and I had not long ago taken up running, and completed my first 5k event (more on that later!). I wanted to keep the momentum going, because I’d decided running could well be my thing! I was casually Googling “Adelaide running routes” trying to find a 5k course I could run on the coming Saturday. Something called “Torrens parkrun” came up. I was curious so I clicked on the link. The rest, as they say…

For the uninitiated – (firstly, where have you been?) parkrun (lower case ‘p’ ALWAYS) is a global movement, which started in the UK a little over 10 years ago, and reached Australia in 2011. In a nutshell, it is a FREE, WEEKLY, TIMED event that occurs around the world on a Saturday morning.  For more information, and to see if there is a parkrun near you, check out www.parkrun.com

All you have to do is register online, print out a personalised barcode (the parkrun motto is ‘Don’t forget your barcode” or #DFYB – without it you won’t get a recorded time) and come out and run! Later on the day you’ll get an email with your results, and each run/walk you do counts towards milestone T-shirts (I have my 50 and am only weeks away from earning my 100 club shirt!)

Anyway, I was suitably intrigued so I headed along for the 8am start (it wasn’t long before running at 8am on a Saturday was a habit and not something I even had to think twice about). There were 44 people there that day for the very first Torrens parkrun, some of whom are still regulars to this day! I ran my fastest 5k time to date, and then a week later took a second off my PB. (My current PB is 21:50, which has stood for 2 years – I don’t seem to be able to get close to it now!)

In my first year I was pretty much a fixture at Torrens parkrun, hence I was lucky enough to win the inaugural Torrens parkrun female points prize! It was my first trophy for running (other than finisher medals)! Since then I haven’t been there quite as regularly, but I still try to get there whenever I can. It is THE BEST way to start the weekend!

In the beginning it was a way to get myself motivated to keep running. Somewhere along the way it became a place to catch up with friends and the run was just a bonus! I have even managed to convince my mum to come along a few times (a work in progress… she has PB’d every time so far!) There are so many wonderful people I have met through parkrun that I now count among my closest friends.

I’ve done 6 different parkrun events now in 3 states. Whenever I am going to be away from home on a Saturday I always try to sneak in a parkrun – it doesn’t always happen but it’s a great way to meet new people in a new place! Even so, Torrens is still #thebestparkrunintheworld without question! (I MAY be biased)

And parkrun can indirectly take some of the credit for me becoming a marathoner. Not only did it keep the momentum going in the very early days, but the seed was first planted in at parkrun. I can’t remember exactly when but I think it was within the first few months. I was chatting to fellow parkrun regular Ros, having recently read about her Berlin Marathon experience in the SA Masters Athletics newsletter. I found out she had only completed her first marathon in her 60s! I decided then that I would, one day, run a marathon. I set myself a fairly conservative goal – to do it by the age of 40. (I was 36 at the time). In the end I got a bit excited and ended up doing my first marathon a little over a year later, at the age of 37.

And now for the advertising spiel (and no, they are not paying me to say this!).

parkrun truly is for everyone. Elite runners, new runners, fast runners, slow runners, walkers, kids, prams, dogs… really, if you have a parkrun nearby, there is no excuse for not giving it a go! (And if you don’t want to do any of the above you could always volunteer!)

I started writing this post earlier in the week. It seemed timely as I had recently been honoured to be asked to join the Torrens parkrun Run Director team (one time dubbed ‘Run Direction’) and I had little hesitation in saying yes. I look forward to giving back to a community that has given me so much.

There’s another reason why this post is so timely. Just 2 days ago, Brian Wyld, SA running legend, the Father of parkrun in SA, the man who brought parkrun to our state, sadly passed away after collapsing during a run. As I have said earlier, I owe parkrun a great deal so I owe Brian a lot too. Not only for bringing us parkrun but also for the role he played in my first City-Bay Fun Run (SA’s biggest running event, attracting around 40,000 participants). I had entered the 12km run (coincidentally I had been lucky enough to win a free entry through parkrun) and I was chatting to Brian at parkrun the day before the big event. He asked me if I had a sub-60 bib. I told him no, as I had not run it before (you need to have run sub-60 minutes the previous year to be eligible) and he told me to come and see him at the expo later that day and he’d sort me out. Sure enough he got me that sub-60 bib which got me into the second start group (behind only the elites), a huge advantage as I didn’t have to contend with ‘Sunday strollers’ getting in the way of my goal to run sub-60. And of course I now HAD to run sub-60, to repay Brian who knew I could do it! I finished in 57:32 (as I didn’t have a watch at the time, I didn’t really know how I was tracking until I saw the clock as I rounded the final corner. I screamed in delight and powered home!) I had done it! In the moment I forgot to look around and thank Brian but later watching my finish video I heard his voice calling my name at the finish line… he had seen me do it! I emailed him during the week and thanked him again… I don’t think I could have done it without his help!

RIP Brian. Thanks for everything. You leave behind a wonderful legacy.