If you’re a person who likes partying to bring in the New Year, you probably want to stop reading now. This is not that sort of blog. Instead, I was in bed early on New Year’s Eve as my alarm was set for 5am on New Year’s Day. Yes, 5am. At this bright and early hour, I set off with some friends for the other side of Melbourne to ‘do the double’ – two parkruns in a day. This feat is only possible on New Year’s Day in certain locations which have decided to run events, are close enough together and who agree to stagger their start times to allow for running and travelling in between. Our chosen 2 were Pakenham and Berwick Springs as they were both new courses for me.
We arrived at Pakenham and knew we were in the right spot due to the big crowd that had already gathered at 7.30am. The run director was very upbeat and happy to have blitzed their previous attendance record with lots of people keen to start their New Year with a double parkrun. Apparently they have a mantra at Pakenham – ‘It’s not a race, it’s a run so let’s get going and have some fun’. He did modify it a little for the occasion, suggesting we might like to get going a bit quicker than normal to ensure we all made it to Berwick Springs for part II.
The course at Pakenham is very easy to follow – an out and back starting from the meeting area and going along the concrete and gravel path. It’s quite pretty for a suburban course with some shady spots and enough scenery to keep you interested. It’s also wide enough not to be too crowded or bumping into other path users. And, being an out and back, it is perfect for high-five opportunities which were not in short supply on Sunday with everyone feeling very encouraging.
The halfway point appeared quite quickly although that could have been because I was running with my friend which always seems to make the kilometres fly by. Either way, we were soon on our way back along the path and finished in a reasonable time. We were the last of our bunch of friends, therefore had the whole crowd there as a cheer squad at the finish – always a bonus! Parkrun #1, done!
We headed off fairly swiftly towards Berwick Springs, stopping for a toilet break as neither of these 2 parkruns has toilets near their start. We still arrived in plenty of time at Berwick Springs and found ourselves a park not too far away. If we had thought Pakenham was popular, this was even more so with a constant stream of people right up until briefing time.
Again, the briefing was particularly uplifting with some milestones being celebrated, special members of the parkrun team being acknowledged and first timers and visitors all heartily welcomed. More importantly, the run director struck a chord with his comment that parkrun is more than just a run, it’s a community – absolutely true and something very much in evidence here.
Soon enough, off we were for event #2. Berwick Springs course is 2 laps around a lake – again, quite picturesque and pretty much flat. There were lots of familiar faces from the Pakenham event and many were taking it easy, having already put in their big effort for the morning. I ran as much as my feet allowed but they were feeling a bit sore which is unusual – probably expecting a bit much from my new shoes so early in their breaking in period.
Two lap courses always sting a little, especially as I generally get overtaken and this was no exception. However I felt better on my second lap, heading for the finish line. With a lot of runners participating, Berwick Springs has its process well worked out and I was scanned and hanging with my friends in no time.
We were a little limited after the run for breakfast options as many of the usual haunts were closed for New Year’s Day but we found something to sustain us for the long drive home. What an adventure! It was only when I arrived home that I realised how tired I was – an early start, a long return journey and a 10km run all taking their toll.