welcome to the newsletter
In this week’s edition of the newsletter we celebrate the life of our first parkdog, more events launch across the country and we finally get a good explanation for the phenomena that is five30runners.
I didn’t make it to parkrun on Saturday. I couldn’t face it.
On Wednesday last week my world changed for the worse when my best four-legged mate, our wonderful dog Clarence, passed away unexpectedly. I’m not telling you this as I’m looking for sympathy but rather I want you to understand what an important role Clarence played in my bringing parkrun to Australia. Please bear with me…
In May 2007 my now-wife Nicci and I were living in London and offered the chance to move to Kotor in Montenegro for a 6 month work contract. Google it, it’s a spectacular place. I made a decision early on that I was going to use this time to train for my first marathon, in Munich on October 14. Something else happened early on… we met, and quickly fell in love with a skinny, dirty stray dog the locals referred to as Budo. Assuming that Budo was the local word for dog (we found out later that he had actually been named after the local Mayor) we decided to call him Clarence, and almost every morning without fail when I would get up to train for my marathon Budo aka Clarence would be waiting in front of our apartment ready to come for the run too. Weeks and months past, I got fit, Clarence got fit, and Nicci and I made the decision that this stray dog was coming with us back to London, via the Munich Marathon of course. I will never forget passing Nicci and Clarence at 30km feeling great, then hitting the wall at around 34km, only to find them waiting for me at the finish line inside Munich’s Olympic Stadium.
Back in London Clarence became my training partner. Over the next 3 years we trained for 2 more marathons, Lisbon and Edinburgh, and the Monaco 70.3 triathlon. The longest run he joined for was 20km: Fulham to Richmond and back during which we shared an energy gel on Richmond Bridge. It definitely gave him some bounce!
However the most important moment for all of us came in mid-2010 when I heard about a 5km running event on Wimbledon Common where Clarence and I could run together and get a time. It was, and still is, called parkrun. So off we went on July 24, 2010 to make our parkrun debut. We came 30th that day in a time of 20:37 however more significantly a seed had been planted that led to birth of parkrun in Australia less than 9 months later. Incredibly, 2 years to the day later our first child Jack was born so July 24 has become a huge date for me!
Fast forwarding to early 2011, we were all now back in Australia living on the Gold Coast and had a launch date for Main Beach parkrun… April 2. In order to promote the launch Gold Coast City Council arranged for a photo shoot with then-Mayor Ron Clarke, myself and some runners. Not to be left out Clarence of course joined the party and ended up being photographed seated next to the Mayor whilst the rest of us were mere running blurs in the background. I certainly got a chuckle out of that.
Then, on the launch day itself, Clarence ran with Nicci coming in 65th in a time of 34:28. More importantly, this made him the first ever parkrun dog in Australia… he was a true pioneer!
Old age and an anterior cruciate ligament operation slowed Clarence down over the last few years and his parkrun adventures were limited more to spectating than running however only a few weeks back, August 2 to be precise, Nicci and I decided to take Clarence and our 2 kids (with 2 running prams) to Kirra parkrun for Nicci’s first parkrun post-childbirth. We almost didn’t take Clarence that day as he hadn’t run a full 5km for a couple of years however we decided to take him regardless. I’m so glad we did. Not only did he make it all the way, he dragged us for most of it. It was like we were back on Wimbledon Common in 2010 and we couldn’t believe it. Wow.
History tells us that was Clarence’s last time at parkrun however it wasn’t his last contribution. On August 27 we drove up to beautiful Tamborine Mountain, about an hour from home, to walk through a proposed parkrun course. Clarence really struggled that day, the long grass and undulating terrain was just a bit too much for him. I had to carry him towards the end of the walk.
So that brings us too today. Clarence is gone but not forgotten and I can say without a doubt that I wouldn’t have brought parkrun to Australia if not for the love of running that we developed together. He came into our lives for a reason and we can only assume that his job was done.
Thanks for letting me indulge above. This has been very therapeutic for me. But let’s not end things there. From next week we will be starting a new section in this newsletter… ‘parkdog of the week’. So if your dog loves parkrun, like Clarence did, please submit your photos using the link below. Make sure you include all of the vital info: name, age, home event, PB and anything else we need to know. It should be a good laugh! Clarence would approve.
Tim from parkrun Australia (get in touch)
p.s. Only 31 days until International parkrun Day 2014.
Essential Stats for Australia & Singapore
Number of locations – 90
Number of runners – 9,181
Number of PBs – 1,941
Number of first timers – 1,795
Number of volunteers – 805
‘Heirisson Island parkrun Launch’ by Crystal Shiu
After a week of sunny, warm weather, the launch of Heirisson Island parkrun was greeted by wet windy conditions… my prayers to the weather gods had failed! Despite this, 150 parkrunners and 2 dogs braved these conditions to welcome Heirisson Island into the WA parkrun family.
Heirisson Island parkrun was conceived initially to ease pressure off the fast growing Claisebrook Cove and Canning River parkruns, which frequently attract 250+ runners. But this event stands up in its own right. It is the only parkrun in Australia to be run on an island, offers stunning panoramic views of the Swan River, Burswood and South Perth and is the only parkrun in WA run entirely on trails. Our event briefing was kicked off with an indigenous welcome by a member of the Noongar people, traditional owners of the land. My heart skipped a beat in the first minute of the run as about half the runners ran past a sign, heading the wrong way at the first turn of the course (we will have a marshal there next week), but thankfully Abdul and Jon directed runners back on the right track. Cheers for that folks…. The course which comprises two laps of a ‘figure 8’ allowed us to see runners multiple times, to cheer them on and offer ‘high fives’, emphasising the community spirit that makes parkrun so unique.
The rest of the event went relatively smoothly; runners were treated to the sighting of 4 dolphins playing in the river and replenished glycogen stores with a variety of tasty treats made by our talented bakers.
A big thank you to the parkrun team for their support, the enthusiastic volunteers for making the day possible and my RDs Lex Holland and Lisa Ip. Whilst I can’t promise better weather or baked goods at next week’s parkrun, I can promise we have WA’s best photographer, a fantastic course and a friendly bunch of volunteers and runners. I encourage you all to come visit us sometime…..
‘What is a five30 parkrunner?’ by Trevor Anderson
A five30runner (parkrunius addictous), is an unusual creature indeed. It spends much of its time as a solitary creature, out and about, pounding the pavement. It does however (generally on weekends), become a true pack animal when it engages in an activity, known in the scientific world, as ‘Fun Running’. five30runners can be seen during these gatherings in groups of as little as two or three or as many as fifty.
five30runners can be easily identified by their plumage, which is predominantly and distinctively red. They vary in size and shape and are made up of all ages. five30runners are not members of a club (as that would cost money); rather they are members of a family. They look after each other from the most senior of runners (Guru) to the most junior (Newbies).
five30runners communicate with an unusual dialect known as “Facebook”. They communicate about all things running, from injury management, to training techniques. They support each other with words of encouragement and praise, and are always happy to help one another.
five30runners appear in several varieties; a plodder, a jogger and a runner. Whatever their variety, they have been observed to receive the same amount of cheers and high fives as they engage in their favourite pastime.
During the next few months, in this, the running season, keep your eye out for one of these wonderful creatures and say hi. The best bit about them is that they don’t bite!
‘Capalaba parkrun Launch’ by Amy Strong and Blair Habberjam
Saturday 30th August saw the launch of Capalaba parkrun which is the second parkrun event in Redland City, South-East Queensland.
With the two previous weekends being very wet, everyone was dying to get out and make the most of a perfect Queensland morning, plus we had huge support from some of the surrounding parkruns making for a very successful event. We had 217 participants finish the course and 11 volunteers, including Event Directors from both Cleveland and Minnippi, making sure everything ran smoothly.
We were lucky enough to have the Redland City Mayor, Karen Williams and the Qld State MP for Capalaba, Steve Davies come along and join us for the launch and the Mayor was kind enough to say a few words during the run brief and was our ‘official starter’ for the run.
Local businesses were in attendance as well with Craig Nivison with his business Cook for a Cause providing some hot food for breakfast and Brooke from the local Fernwood Fitness leading us in a pre-run warm-up. We had also received a fantastic offer for our parkrunners of discounted coffee and food from nearby cafe Wicked Brew Coffee which was enjoyed by plenty of our guests after the run.
Feedback from everyone was fantastic and we managed to fill most of our volunteer roles for week 2! After everything was packed away, the results were processed with no major hiccups and we were able to sit back and reflect on what was an awesome morning which left us buzzing for the rest of the weekend... bring on Capalaba parkrun #2.
FAQ - What is age grading?
All parkrun events use age grading to allow athletes to compare results.
Age grading takes your time and uses the world record time for your sex and age to produce a score (a percentage). This score allows you to compare your personal performance against other people's performances even though they might be a different age and a different sex to you - the higher the score the better the performance.
The scores can also be compared across different race distances - to allow you to, for example, compare a 5km time against a marathon.
Age Grades are calculated to allow rough comparisons between all our runners, and should not be taken too seriously. For example, age grading makes no allowance for different weather conditions or the varying terrains of our courses.
We do not share the actual table used to perform the calculations but it is loosely based on the tables produced by WMA, previously known as WAVA.
For more information, please see Running For Fitness.
Upcoming Special Events
13 - Wynnum (Qld) 2nd anniversary, Inverloch (Vic) launch, Diamond Creek (Vic) cancelled
20 - New Farm (Qld) 3rd anniversary, Pakenham (Vic) launch, Penrith Lakes (NSW) cancelled
27 – Merimbula (NSW) 1st anniversary, Toowoomba (Qld) 1st anniversary, Tamworth (NSW) launch, Bowral (NSW) launch
4 - international parkrun day, Penrith Lakes (NSW) cancelled
11 - Berwick Springs (Vic) 1st anniversary, Kalgoorlie-Boulder (WA) 1st anniversary
18 – Mosman (NSW) 1st anniversary, Gungahlin (ACT) 1st anniversary, Kingscliff (NSW) 2nd anniversary, North Lakes (Qld) 2nd anniversary, Brightwater (QLD) launch, Murray Bridge (SA) launch
25 – Mudgeeraba (Qld) 1st anniversary, Westerfolds (Vic) 1st anniversary, Darwin (NT) 1st anniversary, Bunbury (WA) 1st anniversary, Kawana (Qld) 2nd anniversary
Feedback from the field
Alec McQueen - I don't have an interesting story, but I just wanted to say what a fantastic concept parkrun is. I am a recovering fatso, and to have a weekly 5km run on my doorstep that is so easy to attend and to do and is as regular as clockwork is unbelievably helpful to me. I think there has to be a major saving to governments going on here in terms of current and future health costs.
ProActiv Runners Community Coaching - Congrats to Ken Blackwell on his 50th parkrun. Ken is a fantastic member of Mitchelton parkrun, always around to lend a helping hand and support other runners. Always a pleasure chatting to you. Well done mate.
Cindy Nacey - I have been envious of my daughter who introduced me to parkrun and invited me to participate in last week’s event in Albury. I quickly registered and low and behold I received the next newsletter only to find out we are getting our very own parkrun in Bowral, NSW, launch 27 Sept. You can't imagine my excitement! Almost as good as beating my goal of a sub-35min run, just made it, but a base to now work with on a regular basis. Thank you parkrun, see you in Bowral.
Derek Lawrie – I just want to say a massive thanks to the parkrun community for not only your fantastic work but for getting me back into running again! Growing up doing triathlons, mountain biking and weekly running races overseas, I was always interested to do some runs in Brisbane but never got round to it due to other commitments, including soccer 6 times a week. Soon as I heard about parkrun from a work mate, I couldn't wait to be involved! It's such a great idea and we have so many of them around south-east Queensland. I was lucky enough to get in the top 10 for my first go and then jog with my younger sister to the finish, who was the 6th fastest female on the day. I got the bug back and am trying to get the whole family involved now. We even all signed up for the Bridge to Brisbane to raise funds for my cousin's cause. Thanks again!
Drop me an email if you have an interesting parkrun related fact, happening or comment that you would like to share with all parkrunners.
Name: Amy Smith
Home parkrun: Tuggeranong
Occupation: Events Management
Number of runs: 17
Number of times volunteered: 18
Favourite volunteer role: Time keeping or finish tokens – I love the atmosphere, encouragement and enormous smiles that happen at the finish flags.
What do like about volunteering at parkrun: Having struggled with injuries and not being able to do much running over the last 8 months or so, being able to volunteer and remain involved in the running community has meant so much to me and my journey. It's kept me connected and I've made some amazing friends, met some truly inspirational people and learned so much. Parkrun is something I'll treasure forever.
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: There are many, many great and memorable moments. Possibly the funniest (although it wasn’t at the time!) moment so far has been watching the finish token volunteer and her very impressive fancy foot work as she dodged a spray of bright red liquid courtesy of one of our enthusiastic young runners who had pushed just a little too hard to the finish line. Horrified, we all thought we might have a medical emergency and a very ill young man on our hands. Thankfully, we discovered that a rather large bowl of berries for breakfast was the cause of that problem and not something more serious…….
How can we improve parkrun: I don’t think there is much more that can be done to improve volunteering. The core team at Tuggeranong are amazing to work with and the volunteers are always made to feel welcome and appreciated. Getting the big thumbs up as people run past and seeing the smiles on the faces of each and every one of them is reward enough.