parkrun tourism @ Chelsea Bicentennial

I haven’t been to a parkrun launch for a little while so I jumped at the chance to go to one not too far away on Saturday – Chelsea Bicentennial in suburban Melbourne.

When I say ‘not too far away’, it still required an alarm going off at 5am and a departure time of 6am but both of those were ok, especially as I was due to head over to the other side of Melbourne for an event the next day anyway.

My friend and I ended up arriving at about 7.30am which gave us ample time to check out the playground (pretty cool!) and toilets (plentiful and clean) then stand around discussing how ‘fresh’ (ie, cold) it was. While we knew we’d warm up once we got going, parting with our jackets was a challenge although there was no shortage of body heat at the start got closer – this was a very popular launch with 388 runners and walkers coming out to kick it off in style.

The briefing was….brief (fairly unusual for a launch but much appreciated in the cold!) and then we were off. This one is an out and back course starting with a bit of a loop which did cause a bit of a bottleneck but it soon cleared and we all spread out. The course runs through a park, alongside some sporting grounds and a pony club (which we were warned we may smell before we saw it) along a fairly wide, gravel/dirt path. Probably my favourite thing was the surface – so much better than running on concrete. It was clearly a popular path with other walkers, runners and cyclists enjoying the crisp morning.

I was taking it very easy as I had a big weekend of running ahead of me and was very pleased to end up running with another lady and chatting to her along the way about her running journey which was actually quite similar to mine. It reminded me, yet again, of how much I love the friendliness of parkrun – it doesn’t matter where you turn up at 8am on a Saturday, you’ll be made welcome.

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Running back, we were only a few hundred metres from the finish when we encountered a grumpy cyclist who decided yelling obscenities at us was easier than using her bell to let us know she was there. I was running on the left of the path so, even though we hadn’t heard her, she had plenty of room but obviously didn’t like the fact that runners weren’t tripping over themselves to get out of her way.

We crossed the finish line and I was quite pleased that, despite taking it exceptionally easy, I was only a few minutes over my normal parkrun time. With that, we watched a few of the remaining runners and walkers stream over the line then headed off for breakfast with parkrun friends who’d also travelled to the launch.

Overall, a great launch and a huge well done to the event team for managing a very large turnout – not easy at a fledgling event but it all went smoothly and I’m sure it will be a popular local event every Saturday morning.

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