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!

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!

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!

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!)

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!

Beautiful morning for it!
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!

Where was the pot of gold?
Even better than gold – a veritable crapload of vegan cupcakes!
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!

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!

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!

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
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!

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!


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 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! 


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!


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!


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! 


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!


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!


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!


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!


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!


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!)


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?



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.