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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Bellarine Rail Trail run – race recap

One way of making sure I stick to my training plan is to enter events, particularly long ones. I’m not super motivated when it comes to lacing up the shoes and knocking out my long runs (even though I always love them once I get the first few kilometres done) so events really are the only way to keep me honest. My event of choice on the weekend was the Bellarine Rail Trail run.

Despite it being fairly close to home, I’ve never run along the rail trail so was looking forward to a bit of new scenery. My husband delivered me to the start line and I met up with friends who had caught the train up from Queenscliff. This is quite a small event (about 300 runners) and very low key, in stark contrast to the mega event of last weekend. Before I really had time to think about it, we were being gathered and set off on our way.

I ran with my friend Maggi and those first few kilometres ticked by easily (read her blog of the event here). It was overcast with a suitably low temperature – perfect weather for running. We chatted as we ran and stuck together for about the first 7km then went off at our own paces.

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The scenery is pretty – running along the rail line with farms in the background (and friendly cows) although, as you get closer to Queenscliff, you start to get water glimpses. The surface is gravel until you hit civilisation again – very easy on the feet.

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I had, mostly, a great run. There were a few moments of ‘gee I’m tired’ on this one, possibly compounded by it being a small event and, therefore, me feeling alone out on the course. When I was passed by the 34km runners, they were all fabulously friendly and supportive however there felt like long stretches where I didn’t see anyone. Coming in to Queenscliff, I wondered whether I’d gone the right way but always had the rail line close by so figured I had.

The finish line snuck up on me a bit and I was very happy to be running across it, with my husband waiting at the end. I was pretty happy with my time – I had treated this all along as a training run so wasn’t out to set any records, just was pleased to have ticked off 17km from my training plan.

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My friend Maggi running over the finish line

Bellarine sunset run – race recap

I’m not normally a big fan of late starting events so it shows the power of persuasion that my running friends hold over me that saw me sign up for the Bellarine sunset 10km run which we ran yesterday.

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I headed down to the staging area to pick up my bib and meet up with the crew. Most of them were running the half marathon option but, as it had turned out quite warm, I was glad to have chosen the 10km. They all started at 5.30pm so I waved them off for their briefing, cheered them over the start line then waited for the bus to take me to the start of the 10km in St Leonards. We were greeted aboard the bus by a pirate – you don’t get a better start to an event than that!

The bus trip was great, taking in the course that we’d be running on and passing all of those on the outbound lap of the half marathon. It did, however, feel a little long and my pre-event butterflies were starting to flutter. Was I really up to running all the way back?!

The start line was very casual and, as we were waiting, we saw the first couple of half marathoners come through for the turnaround – inspirational stuff as they were powering along. Dion Milne (who organised the event along with his wife, Liberty), shared something of the origins and intentions of this inaugural event then sent us off on our way. This event really is testament to his determination and the positive role that running and the supportive network it offers can play in people’s lives and that’s what my head was full of as I set off.

While the start was a little crowded, we soon thinned out and, somehow, magically, there was room not only for us but for the trickle of half marathoners who had reached the turnaround point and were on their way home. It all just seemed to work beautifully. The trail hugged the coast and gave stunning views and cooling sea breezes which were much appreciated as I was boiling. Even better, the course ran along the edge of a couple of caravan parks, complete with happy campers who yelled encouragement (including our names thanks to them being printed on our bibs) and hosed us down as we passed – bliss! We were also lucky enough to have 2 fabulous running buddies there as support crew with encouragement, drinks and lollies along the way. The drink stations were well stocked and environmentally friendly so we used our collapsible cups which we bought at registration.

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I had felt thoroughly exhausted in the first couple of kilometres but felt better as the sun went down and took the temperature with it. In the last kilometre, another running friend who was running the half caught up and we ran to the finish together.

 

12657816_1678368965752461_1604587142262684756_oI was hot, tired and thirsty but happy and hung around to cheer our running buddies over the line.

We stuck around for presentations (which had been timed so that most people would have finished for them) and to generally soak up the atmosphere. I wasn’t in the mood for a cider afterwards which was a shame considering who the sponsor was 🙂

This was an absolutely brilliant event – gorgeous course, friendly and inclusive atmosphere (even for those as far at the back of the pack as me), well resourced with fabulous volunteers. As much as I still don’t like afternoon events, this is one I’ll definitely be keen to do again – so much fun (and great bling!). Well done to all involved & a huge congratulations to Dion and Liberty – you should be proud of what you’ve achieved.