Launches are always special and a wonderful thing to be part of. Watching a parkrun community ‘go public’ after a long and arduous journey behind the scenes to get it off the ground is inspiring and there is always a sense of nervous anticipation on the day. This morning’s launch at Mullum Mullum certainly had that spark but was extra special as it was the 200th event launch in Australia. Just ponder that for a minute. 200 different events have been started in 200 different communities. 200 sets of event teams who have negotiated with councils, sourced money and volunteered countless hours to get those events off the ground. And thousands of runners and walkers have benefited – physically and mentally. Wow. Just wow.
So it was in this mindframe that I stood and listened to the briefing at Mullum Mullum. Starting with an acknowledgement of the aboriginal custodians of the land we were running on, the briefing was the best I’ve heard – no mean feat for something that needs to impart so many technical bits and pieces. Necessary information imparted with humour added in, the buzz of the event team was very apparent.
Briefing over and time to begin, we all moved along to the start line, a heaving mass with 333 runners and walkers all ready to go. And go we did. The start was, predictably, a bit congested but it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm at all. The scenery in the first half is gorgeous, with trees as far as you can see and only a tiny glimpse of the freeway and civilisation beyond. The course is truly ‘undulating’ – a bit like a rollercoaster actually with constant ups or downs and no flats in between. None of them are terrifyingly steep (although the downhill after the first turn around point made me wish I had my trail shoes on!) and the downhills somewhat make up for the short but tiring uphills.
At about halfway, we passed back by the start/finish and set out on the urban loop of the course – under some freeway overpasses and around a pylon. It doesn’t sound particularly scenic but was actually quite an interesting contrast – there is certainly a little bit of something for everyone on this course and absolutely no chance of being bored.
Finally the finish line reappeared and I collected my token and made my way to the scanners. Kudos to the volunteer team who coped brilliantly with the large crowd – everything from start to finish seemed to go very smoothly and was a credit to those involved.
The talk afterwards was of the slightly short course (most likely due to inconsistent gps data) and whether it was the toughest in Victoria. Jury is still out on that one – I think Wilson Botanic was harder but I took a lot of this one at a leisurely pace so probably can’t compare them. And then, as always, the talk turned to post-parkrun coffee and breakfast.
And if I started this post with wandering and slightly evangelical prose, it is only fitting that I end it the same way – feeling grateful for and slightly in awe of the fabulous bunch of running friends who have been drawn together from all corners. One of the things I most look forward to at launches and when travelling around is catching up with this group and I feel very lucky to have stumbled upon them.
An all round good morning. Well done again to the amazing team at Mullum Mullum and may all your parkruns be merry. Especially next weekend’s.