10 MORE TO GO…
Today I took the first step towards the final stage of my challenge as I brought about my 40th different course to start the 10 course countdown until my 50 in 50!
As for today’s event, I once again had an early morning start with the usual bunch of tourists from St Peters parkrun to head out of Sydney and go to one of the courses in the self-styled ‘Region of Runners’. This time it was a completely trail course in a regional park in the heart of the Hunter region with not a bit of tarmac path in sight – perfect for me but I know not many people will agree!
The event team today, with a risk of sounding a little bit like a broken record, were fantastic and probably some of the nicest people I have met in my travels! The Run Director for the day greeted us the minute we arrived as she knew we weren’t local and spoke at length with real passion about her course before asking us about our parkrun history between us. At the end of the run, she even called the RD team at nearby Newy parkrun to ask where they were heading for breakfast so that we could join them for a bite to eat and a coffee, which was not only a nice touch on behalf of Blue Gum Hills but also great to see the bond and connection that the two events in close proximity had between them!
There were two things that really stood out in the general organisation of the event though that are definitely worth a mention. Firstly their Tail Runner actually has a tail! And no, I’m not being rude or casting aspersions here, the event team have an item of fancy dress that is a Tiger’s Tail that the Tail Runner can strap on so that people know who they are – a great little quirky touch. As well as that, just after the run briefing and before the start they welcomed everyone to take part in what they call a St Helens Handshake, which is where you turn around to one of the other parkrunners around you whom you do not know, you shake their hands, introduce yourself and tell them a little about yourself. Such a good idea, especially for the smaller events! Much to my surprise, it genuinely was named after St Helens in the UK as well so someone must have travelled there from Blue Gum Hills or nearby at some point to bring this ‘tradition’ to other parkruns in the world – amazing how a gesture can stretch 17,000km around the world! This is the best thing for me about travelling to so many courses though, you get to see all the little nuances and small ideas that the local teams have to make things stand out a little. One day I know I am bound to end up setting up my own course somewhere and will ‘borrow’ all of these ideas to have the quirkiest little course ever 🙂
One final thing about the area is that this parkrun is great place for families with small children and teenagers to get out and take part in some parkrun tourism but also spend a day in the great outdoors. Just behind the start/finish area there is a ‘mining-themed’ playground for small children next to a picnic/barbecue area for the rest of the family. And for the older children, at the other side of the car park there is a ‘TreeTop Adventure Park’ where you can play about in all of the high-up platforms and canopies in the huge Gum trees that make up the Regional Park area.
Oh, and today was my first time representing my new charity of choice – Tiny Lives – in preparation for my Half Marathon. If anyone would like to sponsor me for this great charity it would be gratefully received – https://www.justgiving.com/TinyLivesSydney 🙂
As mentioned before, this course is wholly on trail with lots of stones, gravel and rocks on a very undulating and uneven surface, so probably not suited to ‘barefoot’ runners or city-slickers who only like running on flat tarmac, but it’s great and all the better for being this way to me! It is also the first out-and-back looped course I’ve ever seen at a parkrun, I know that doesn’t make too much sense now but all will become apparent as I continue.
The start is by a picnic area overlooking a small field at the right-hand side of the car park as you pull into the park and from the start you head off on the outer perimeter of the small field before heading out over a small metal bridge and towards a large white tyre adorned with the parkrun logo. You turn towards the right at the tyre to start the ‘loop’ following the gravel track out towards a large brick mining vent chimney approx 1 km into the run. From there you carry on for another 200m before passing an entrance to another path on your left and running on another 150m and turning back on yourself to go down the afore-mentioned path for a small ‘dog-leg’ turn. You turn right onto that path and then follow that for 300m before then keeping to the left at a fork in the path. You then follow on from there for another 700m, over a small creek before reaching the white tyre again in the opposite direction and turning round to go back from where you came (hence the ‘looped’ out-and-back).
The route back is pretty much the same all the way with the exception of the small ‘dog-leg’ turn you did on the way out as you don’t do that for a second time on the way back, instead when you reach that point you just carry on down the normal path and past the mining vent back to the finish line.
- Time: 27:23
- Place: 19/42
- Gender Place: 17
- Age Category Place (SM25-29): 3
- Age Graded Score: 47.17%
- Most Events Global Position: 282
Full details of my run can be found here:
And full details of the results from this parkrun can be found here:
The Facebook page for the course is:
And the Course Information page on the parkrun website is:
Information on the park can be found here: