parkrun tourism @ portland

We were down in Portland last weekend for the Winter Solstice Run and were very happy to be able to make it a double run weekend with a visit to Portland parkrun.

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Like all of the country parkruns we’ve visited, this one was super friendly. One of the beautiful things about small parkruns is that they notice when you’re a visitor and we were spotted straight away! We were welcomed warmly and had the course explained to us before briefing. We then huddled together for the formalities (in the freezing cold morning) before gathering at the start line and heading out.

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The course follows the path around the lagoon including a boardwalk and, eventually, brings you back past the start to the turn around point. And then – back you go! While I thought it would be slightly disconcerting to pass the finish area twice, it wasn’t so bad and the scenery made up for it – very pretty and picturesque. The weather was very ordinary but the parkrun magic worked with us having only a sprinkling of rain during the actual event with it bucketing down not long after we finished.

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We then took their recommendation for a breakfast venue and headed to the Port of Call cafe. Taking a table in the window to enjoy the view (and laugh at the weather which was alternating hail and rain), we were again overwhelmed with the friendliness of this parkrun with multiple invitations to come up and join them at the group table. And their recommendation was spot on – breakfast was great and the coffee delicious. Exactly what we needed to warm us up.

In my quest to ‘tick off’ all the Victorian parkruns, there are those that are great but that I am happy to just do once, particularly when they’re a fair drive from home. Portland is not one of them and I would happily travel down to this one again for the welcome, the course and the all round hospitality shown. If there were parkrun awards, this would definitely be a top contender for the friendliest – well done to the event team, volunteers and all the parkrunners involved. See you again, but possibly when it’s a little bit warmer 🙂

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parkrun tourism @ Bairnsdale

My husband and I have recently celebrated 17 years of marriage and, indicative of how much we’ve changed over that time, our first consideration when choosing options for a weekend away was somewhere with a parkrun we hadn’t already done. Having not done any in Gippsland (and, to be honest, having never really been over that side of the state), we opted for Bairnsdale.

The course at Bairnsdale is very easy to find and with a perfect undercover area and toilets, along with ample parking. It’s an easy to follow out and back with the added bonus of permanent signage along the way (which always makes me jealous – would love that for the 2 parkruns which I call home).

We gathered for a brief briefing where celebrations were shared – it was a young man’s 100th run, a very impressive achievement from a junior parkrunner who had managed to clock up some tourist runs in that tally as well. And with the congratulations done, we set off.

The path is fairly narrow but wide enough for the turnout of runners and walkers and the grass at the start gives room for people to find their spot and spread out a bit. It is concrete most of the way but had a coating of autumnal leaves in certain spots which were lovely and soft to run on. The scenery is gorgeous – along the river and through a variety of areas including a section where the bats were snoozing in the trees overhead. The turnaround point is again clearly marked and there is a marshal at the boat ramp to offer encouragement and keep everyone safe. While there were some small inclines, it’s a mostly flat course and, on the day we were there, had a mix of speedy runners and walkers, along with quite a few families which is always lovely to see.

Having finished, we headed off for breakfast and chose the delicious Mr D cafe although it looked there were quite a few great options in town – country towns have certainly come a long way since I lived in one!

I can definitely recommend this parkrun not just as a place to visit but Bairnsdale as a place for a weekend away. We stayed at an apartment in Paynesville and visited some of the sites around which were even more beautiful on a Wintery weekend. It might have taken us a while to get here but I’m glad we visited. Thanks to the team at Bairnsdale parkrun for the warm welcome!

parkrun tourism @ euroa

I consider myself a fairly well travelled person but am constantly surprised by the places I haven’t been. Euroa being one of them. It’s not that I was overlooking it intentionally, it’s just that the Hume Highway has a convenient way of providing a speedy, seamless way to zip past without dropping in for coffee.

So today we rectified that, getting up at 4.30am and heading up (and off) the Hume for Euroa parkrun launch. A 5 hour round trip for a 5km is possibly a little extreme but I’ve been at this parkrun thing for so long, I’ve forgotten what other people do with their Saturdays.

We arrived and had plenty of time to catch up with our extended running family, many of whom we hadn’t seen since the last launch.

During the briefing, we were welcomed by both the Event Ambassador and Event Directors and given an introduction to the course and what to expect. More importantly, we were given a beautiful introduction to what parkrun is all about, how big a family it is and how welcome all were, regardless of how long you intended to be out enjoying the course, which would have set the scene so well for all of the first timers in attendance.

Then it was time to ditch our layers and begin. I will confess, I found the start of the course vaguely confusing but just followed everyone else and had no issues. We started on the grass due to the increased number of parkrunners for the launch then headed under a bridge, around and back over it before completing a loop and then along the track to the halfway point. The surface is a mix of grass, concrete and trail and was very easy to run on with lots of cones, chalk markings and friendly marshals to guide us on the way.

Once you’ve gone around the big tree at the halfway point, it’s back the way you’ve come and I was very grateful to have marshals and cones there to help as I didn’t trust myself to remember what we did at the start enough to run it in reverse. And, in what felt like no time at all, I was running back along the path and down through the flags.

To celebrate the launch, we were treated to a free breakfast barbecue provided by a local community group then wandered the farmer’s market before moving on to second breakfast in the Main Street with many great looking cafes to choose from.

So Euroa, I’m sorry it’s taken so long to get there but you were worth the wait. This is a gorgeous little parkrun with a beautiful course and a great sense of community. Well done to the event team for a fabulous launch and for being so welcoming to both new parkrunners and all of us visitors. I’ll be sure to detour for coffee next time we’re heading up the Hume 🙂

parkrun tourism @ nhill

With parkruns springing up all over Victoria, visiting some of those further away from home can be a challenge. So we were keen to make the most of the Easter long weekend and the opportunity to cut through some kilometres on Good Friday. Nhill was our chosen spot – a few hours down the highway and, even more fortunately, kind of on the way to visit relatives for the remainder of the weekend.

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After camping overnight, we were up early and arrived by 7.30am at Nhill parkrun, easily finding where we needed to be thanks to the parkrun flags that were already set up. As the clock ticked closer to 8am, there were predictions that visitors might outnumber locals but I think it just fell in favour of the locals by the time briefing started. The welcome for both sets was equally as warm. Despite being new, this is clearly an event with a big sense of community and a lot of heart, where all are welcomed, regardless of where you’re from, whether you’ve attended before or what your speed is.

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Very brief briefing done, we gathered at the start line and were off. The track is easy to follow and has cones to indicate the couple of turns that you need to take. Initially, the track is gravel and rock but then becomes grass before a long stretch of soft dirt around the lake. It was equal parts beautiful and challenging – although it was flat, I found the soft dirt stretched me a bit, possibly due to my still healing sprained ankle.

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The turnaround point was clearly marked then it was back the same way to the start….so you could turn around and do it all again. I like this when visiting tourist courses as it gives me a lap to look at the course and another lap to take some pictures. And I certainly took some pictures here. The sun was rising on the other side of the lake, bathing it in bright light which cut through the gentle layer of fog sitting on the water – an absolutely stunning way to spend the morning. Being a double out and back, there were also ample opportunities for smiles, cheers and high-fives from fellow parkrunners and this friendly bunch didn’t disappoint.

I managed to complete a relatively quick parkwalk, finishing 15th overall, 7th female and 1st in my age group. Unlikely that I’ll ever find another parkrun small enough to top those statistics so I shall just enjoy them 🙂

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Once we were done, the pressing issue of breakfast was our next priority and we took a browse in town, finding the Olivia Rose cafe and having a delicious meal to set us up for the rest of our day’s travels. There are some gems of attractions in the area so, if you’re visiting, don’t rush off.

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Pink lake, just up the road from Nhill

parkrun tourism @ rosebud

It has been quite a while between parkrun launches for me. That inconvenient (but amazing) marathon training/marathon/holiday thing kind of got in the way of parkrun for a while and I missed a few around Victoria. So today, we made up for it by getting up at silly o’clock to head to Rosebud to celebrate a new parkrun baby joining the family.

Rosebud parkrun starts next to the beach and was very easy to find with parking not far away. As well as toilets and drinking taps, there is even a playground for you to let out your inner child (or do hill repeats running up the side of the slide as some of the locals were doing). It was obvious from early on that this one was going to be a popular launch and there were certainly lots of people gathered for the briefing. The run director, Nadine, did the usual welcomes with 2 things that I particularly liked – 1. for those attending their first parkrun, this isn’t just a run, it’s a movement and 2. if you’re a local and are after a fast run or PB, come back next week. With the numbers today and the fact it’s a two lap course, we were all going to have to practise some tolerance and consideration.

And so, it was time to start. The starting flags were on a wide grass area which made it easy and people slotted onto the path quite well, just before we reached the boardwalk section. This is a where it got a bit tight, particularly as the faster runners had already hit the first turnaround point and were heading back towards us. I settled in to the left and kept plodding along at whatever speed the crowd would allow. Very soon, I was also at the turnaround point and heading back towards and then past the start line to turnaround point number two. The path is concrete all the way but I moved onto the grass at different points to give my legs a break. And then, after turnaround number 2…..it was time to go and do it all again. I’m not the biggest fan of multi lap courses but this one didn’t feel bad at all. It’s very flat and quite pretty, running along the waterfront with the boardwalk section a nice diversion and something different to run on. Running past the finish line a second time wasn’t as disheartening as I thought and the turnaround appeared quite quickly and then it was, finally, time to run through the flags.

It was great to see crowds still hanging out and chatting while waiting for all finishers and I took the opportunity to get my pirate picture (having joined the parkrun pirate club at Clermont Waterfront in Florida without realising it). As always, we followed it with delicious breakfast – almost too many places to choose from within walking distance but we settled on the the GPO Hotel which was great.

Congratulations to the event team at Rosebud on a fabulous launch – definitely one to visit if you’re down that way and I’m sure it’s going to be a very popular one with the Summer crowds. And those looking for an ‘aaaaarrr’ for their pirate club membership 😉

parkrun tourism @ Bannockburn Bush

It appears that parkrun launch season is upon us again – last week was Portarlington’s turn and this week it was inland at Bannockburn Bush.

The team at this parkrun have been working hard for many months to set it all up, secure the funding and build a base of enthusiastic volunteers and participants. And all of that hard work paid off with a successful and busy launch this morning.

We arrived ridiculously early as our training plan called for a 6km pre-parkrun run so it was a sleepy, quiet and foggy scene that greeted us as we made our way down the gravel road to the reserve. It gave us a chance to enjoy the (chilly) morning and explore the course before the crowds arrived. By the time we were done, there were a lot more cars and people and we had time for a quick catch up with fellow local and travelling parkrunners before the briefing.

 

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The course at Bannockburn Bush is, as the name suggests, through the trees and along a delightful trail surface. Even more blissfully, it’s flat. It’s a wide enough trail for everyone and, even with the many people attending this morning’s launch, it still wasn’t too crowded, especially after the first 500 metres. It is a very easy to follow course – you head out straight then make a left for a short out and back segment before rejoining the main track where you head towards the main turn around point. From there, it’s straight back to the finish. And, if in doubt, there are a fabulous permanent sign posts along the way, ensuring you can’t get lost. Unless you try really, really hard.

It was great to see a big diversity in the parkrunners attending today with what felt like more than the usual proportion of walkers, adding further to the supportive and family friendly atmosphere.

Congratulations to the event team on a very successful launch. For those of you planning to tourist out this way, do. And be sure to visit Bannockburn Station for breakfast afterwards – absolutely delicious!

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parkrun tourism @ portarlington

International parkrun day, celebrating 13 years since the start of this amazing movement, is a really cool day to have a launch. And so we all gathered this morning at Portarlington, wearing our parkrun apricot ‘uniform’ to a launch another event into the parkrun family. The skies were blue, the clouds minimal, the sun shining and the waves gently lapping not far from the start line. Glenn, parkrun Ambassador (formerly known as Territory Director) welcomed us, followed by Event Director, Fiona and, in what felt like record time for a launch, we were at the start line and off.

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The view from our car park before walking up to the start

The course is a very easy to follow out and back, following the coastal path after starting at the big tree at the top of the hill. As such, it’s a nice downhill run to start (although the astute amongst you will have registered what that means. What goes down and all that…). The path is gravel and very easy to run on with enough width to cope with us all plus the benefit of grass alongside in case of those pesky runners that insist on running side by side (ie, me and my friends this morning). The trail can only be described as picturesque with views of the bay throughout, often close enough that you could almost touch the water. There are some undulations, probably more than you thought, but they’re not terrible or long and, before you know it, you’re turning around and heading home.

I ran today with my 3 running besties and it was just the best sort of run – not too hard but hard enough that it felt like I’d worked for it. Yet easy enough for chats as we went. It was another morning when, particularly reflecting on its 13th birthday, I felt very grateful that parkrun existed and that I had found it. I’ve said it before but it seriously is life changing stuff.

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Just at about the time when I was feeling like I might have had enough and be ready for breakfast, the finish line could be seen although its placement was a minor cause for concern. Naturally, it’s at the top of the hill we came down at the start. Not a big hill but still a hill which is not the most welcome sight at the end of a 5km run. Still, we ran it and crossed the line, happy and done.

A huge well done to Fiona and the event team at Portarlington – this one has been a long time in the making and it was great to see so many from Balyang welcoming them to the parkrun family. A gorgeous course, friendly crowd of volunteers and definitely one I’ll be back to. Even with that little incline at the end 😉

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