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 πŸ™‚

Advertisements

Book review – 401: The extraordinary story of the man who ran 401 marathons in 401 days and changed his life forever

My running is more ‘pause’ than running at the moment – having my wisdom tooth out has temporarily sidelined me, just as I was getting back up to speed after my sprained ankle. However it has given me to time to read about running and I stumbled upon ‘401, The extraordinary story of the man who ran 401 marathons in 401 days and changed his life forever’. The title initially caught my eye for 2 reasons – 1) running 401 marathons sounds kind of crazy (but my kind of crazy!) and 2) I can definitely relate to marathon running changing your life. If running one changed mine, I was curious to know how it felt to run a further 400.

The man in question is Ben Smith who decided to tackle the issue of bullying by running a really long way and raising funds for 2 charities, Stonewall and Kidscape. This book takes you through not only the challenge itself but also weaves in his story which led him to do such a thing in the first place. Ben suffered terrible bullying throughout school, affecting him in a myriad of ways and it was this that ultimately led to him wanting to take action.

It’s a very easy read and Ben is a easily relatable person, whether you’re a runner or not. In fact, one of the things I really liked about this book was hearing about some of the people who ran with him throughout the challenge, many of whom had never run such distances before. As is so often the case, this story is one not just of changing his own life but inspiring others to do the same. I think the glow and positivity you get from running is not only addictive for those of us who do the running, it’s also very tempting for those who see it and wonder whether they can have some of that too. (Short answer – yes, you can.)

Another interesting feature of this book which worked quite well are the way it’s not all told by Ben – various other key players add their own anecdotes throughout, giving a different perspective and a sense of how much support is needed for such a large undertaking.

If you’re after a book about technique and tips on running form, this is not it. Much of the running talk is background to the other stories woven in and that is actually one of the strengths of this book – it’s a geniune reflection from a geniune person that will resonate whether your favoured distance is 5km or an ultra.

parkrun tourism @ Ocean Grove

It used to be the case that there was only one choice for a parkrun around these parts – luckily a lovely one but just the one. This is certainly no longer the case with yet another local event joining the parkrun family this morning – Ocean Grove.

Parking was plentiful down at the boat ramp (where the toilets are) and we warmed up by walking to the start, not too far away. We were greeted at the start area by stunning blue skies and a perfectly crisp morning, absolutely ideal running conditions. We were welcomed, briefed and moved off toward the start line, ready to run. With over 200 people in attendance, we all knew it would be a bit tight but, from where I was, everyone was being conscious and courteous of those they were sharing the course with.

The Ocean Grove course runs along a gravel path beside the water with stunning views all the way. You start in the middle of the course and run an out and back loop, past the start and then on an out and back loop in the other direction before doing it all again. It’s fairly flat, easy on the feet and, luckily, as scenic as you could hope for which will distract you from the part where you have to run past the finish line multiple times. With all the loops, there is also ample opportunity to see and cheer others on the course, especially today with familiar faces at the launch.

I crossed the finish line to friendly faces and encouraging cheers then, barcode scanned, we headed off for breakfast and coffee (both of which Ocean Grove does very well).

Congratulations to the team at Ocean Grove for a great launch and a welcoming and friendly atmosphere that I’m sure will see this one being a favourite for locals and visitors.

How to run 100 miles

I have absolutely no interest in running an Ultra. Ever. I know I once said this about a marathon but this time, I really, really mean it. Deep down, I always wanted to run a marathon, just didn’t think I could so was too scared to say it out loud. But an ultra. No.

However I love hearing about them, reading about them and watching stories of other people having done them. Ultra runners are a special type of crazy and one I can identify with. They get that it’s about a journey and not a destination (or a finish time) and that the trail isn’t something predictable, but that’s where the joy lies.

I came across this film today and adored it from the first minute. It’s a story of 2 guys who, despite not being runners, decide to train for and run an ultra. They are incredibly likeable and relatable and the lessons they dole out are as applicable to those of us tackling distances shorter than ultra length. It chronicles their training and what they learnt along the way. We’re then treated to their journey through the event itself, with the constantly ticking clock getting closer to cut off time (as their goal is to finish within the 36 hours).

A fantastic documentary, whether you’re intending to run an ultra or not. 😁

parkrun tourism @ Bright

It took almost no convincing to get me to try out Bright parkrun. I’ve adored Bright and the surrounding countryside for a long time and need no excuse to spend time there. It’s an all season kind of town with something to do year round but Autumn in Bright is my favourite with the leaves doing their dramatic colour thing and leaping from the trees in colossal numbers.

Bright parkrun is located just outside of Bright at Mystic Plantation (Mystic Landing) along the bike trail to Wandiligong. It was very easy to find, helped along by the flags by the side of the road (which also happen to denote the finish line). This morning, there were quite a few parkrun visitors as well as enthusiastic locals who hadn’t been scared off by full on weather predictions (or the thunderstorm during the night).

We gathered, were briefed (with the myriad of tourists welcomed heartily) and given an outline of the course – an easy to follow out and back along the rail trail. And then, we were off.

The course is a sealed path all the way and mostly flat (Strava told me it was slightly uphill going out and slightly downhill coming back but I barely noticed when running it). It is definitely a scenic one with Mystic Mountain rising up from the start, a creek flowing nearby along the run and greenery everywhere you look. In typical Bright fashion, you also are treated to some autumnal leaves on the path but these just added to the atmosphere. If it seems I’m paying a bit more attention to reviewing things underfoot than usual then it’s true – this was my first parkrun since spraining my ankle and I was very careful to watch out for anything that might jump out and trip me up like the hole that got me 7 weeks ago. (I’m happy to say there was nothing menacing on the path and I returned in one piece.)

For those not easing back into it like I was this morning, this would be a PB kind of course – mostly flat and with a beautiful clear and straight sprint for the finish in the last kilometre. We were welcomed back and scanned in by the friendly and efficient volunteer team.

We followed up our efforts by heading back into Bright for some breakfast (be warned – it’ll probably be hard to choose with sooooo many delicious looking options) and then, reluctantly, hit the road to come home. Don’t worry Bright, we’ll be back. And, if you’re smart, you’ll add it to the list too. πŸ˜„β„οΈ

Disclaimer: This is absolutely not the finish line for parkrun. We were being cheeky and muscling in on the finish for the Buffalo Stampede which also was being run in and around Bright this weekend and which was within sight of our breakfast table πŸ˜‚

Inspiration and where to find it

Where do you find inspiration? This question popped up for me again the other night while watching the wonderful ‘Employable me‘ on ABC. The documentary is about young people who are looking for work and who also have a disability. After the show, someone on Twitter commented how he was unhappy at viewers calling these young people ‘inspiring’ – they’re just people who want jobs and shouldn’t be seen as inspiring for managing their disability and aiming for something everyone wants.

I do understand where he was coming from – the way that society views people with a disability is often either limiting or patronising. But I think that, for me, this puts the category of ‘inspiring’ on some sort of pedestal, a title only for those who have achieved global accolades and stratospheric heights. I find inspiration in stories of people who overcome the things that hold me back. They don’t have to be Olympians, celebrities or elite athletes, although some of those fit the bill. I’m as likely to find inspiration within my running family, in the wider running community or amongst others I know outside of running.

Turia Pitt is one of my inspirations, not for overcoming horrific injuries but for her attitude in the face of whatever life has given her. Her positivity, practicality and desire to live in the moment and not the past or the future is something I strive for.

Kurt Fearnley is another inspiration, for his attitude of determination and his complete refusal to accept limitations others put on him. That’s an attitude to emulate. His face in the last moments of a marathon are what I reflect on during hard kilometres of my long runs – that’s what strength looks like, pushing on despite the pain. I talk a lot to my students about him as he also embraces another admirable quality – being highly competitive yet demonstrating admirable sportsmanship and grace.

Yet not all of those who inspire me are public identities. Within my running family, I have just as many sources of inspiration. People who don’t give up and continue to aim for often ridiculously lofty goals. And then achieve them, despite potential barriers. People who continue to get of bed and face life, even when it hurts, physically or mentally. People who, despite putting their all into their own events, still have energy to spare to cheer on and support others.

And, interestingly enough, I do actually find inspiration in my own achievements. It certainly hasn’t always been that way but has come out through the big goals I’m achieved over the last few years. Sometimes it’s like I’m two people – one full of doubts and another who knows what I’m capable of. On the days I’m the former, I have to remember what I’ve done and how far I’ve come – that’s the inspiration I draw on to keep moving forward and the confidence that I will achieve whatever I set my heart on.

IMG_20180107_201529_688.jpg

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.

IMG_20180331_091148_271.jpg

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.

20180331_074554.jpg

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.

20180331_082943.jpg

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 πŸ™‚

20180331_083118.jpg

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.

20180331_100214.jpg

Pink lake, just up the road from Nhill