2 MORE TO GO…
Another week, another parkrun. Back-to-back runs are rare for me nowadays, in fact the last time I managed this was nearly a year ago back in March 2015 and even then, that was only because I had just recovered from shoulder surgery and a large number of courses had sprung up around Sydney in my downtime.
This time though, the double has given me a little breathing space before my planned 50th, meaning I only have to complete 1 more in the next 3 weeks for my 50th plans to come off. I won’t speak too soon though, don’t want to jinx it!
Anyway, Shellharbour parkrun is one I have been keeping in my pocket for a sunny day for a while, because it is one of the very few parkrun courses in the world that actually has part of the run on a beach! And I don’t just mean a bit of sand, this is a bona fide beach that looks out to the sea and you would come for a sunbathe or a surf. Okay, so that does provide its own challenges when the sea is at high tide, or when you have to dodge the seaweed, or even just because sand is so hard to run on, but genuinely, none of that matters because the views at this parkrun are so amazing. I will probably put it out there and say this is the most picturesque parkrun I have completed so far!
Despite its aesthetic qualities though, this is also a pretty tough course with quite a few hills to contend with, very much a pleasure/pain thing going on here. Opinion is split on whether this or Cronulla parkrun is the toughest in the Sydney region. Both have sand and both have some pretty tough hills, but I really think it’s too close to call. Despite finishing this a whole 3 minutes quicker than Cronulla, I think there are too many factors on why that might be for it to sway decision. Only one thing for it then I suppose, if you want to know the answer, you’ll have to try them both yourself 🙂
The one thing that this parkrun did highlight to me though is about volunteers. They sadly were not able to fill their roster this weekend due to no fault of the event team, which meant that a number of roles were unfilled, including a couple of key marshal positions at a couple of turns. Without one of the faster runners stopping to act as an impromptu marshal I think there would have been a risk of some runners not taking the turn and ending up lost. Without volunteers, parkrun simply could not happen, so if your local event is short on numbers one week, please think about helping out. The roles aren’t difficult and missing one run every now and again to help others is not a bad thing, in fact, it’s quite enjoyable to see a different side to the event! I’d hate to see an event not be able to run due to a lack of volunteers and I’m sure everyone would like having no event at all a lot less than missing one or two runs a year.
Talking to the Run Director it appears that the team at Shellharbour parkrun have 3 different courses that they run on a rotation basis throughout the month, the main course (which I ran and will explain below), a reverse version of the main course, and an alternative course. Of the three, the only one that doesn’t run on the beach is the alternative course, so I am quietly glad I didn’t turn up on that week. Not that it isn’t just as good, just that I really wanted to run on the beach and I can’t exactly come again another time!
The course starts facing the ocean next to the café in Killalea State Park and loops slightly round to the left before turning to the right for a sharp decline down the hill, across a field, and down a path towards the beach. When the path levels out there is a left turn to take you to the entrance to the beach for the best part of the course (in my opinion). You run approx 250m down the beach to the opposite side before exciting the beach onto a stone path/road.
This is where you meet the first hill, and save for a small downhill section, it’s all uphill from here! You follow the hill all the way up the path until you reach a crossroads where you take the path to the left. Another 200m or so and you take another left turn downhill before starting the climb back up to the finish line. The first part of the climb is deceiving, because it not only has a gradual incline up but also a gradual slope to the left as well, which really gives your legs a workout. Don’t be afraid to grind to a slow jog or walk here, I did!
After taking a left turn onto a gravel path you reach the second, bigger hill. You follow this hill all the way to the top before the path levels out and you reach the opposite side of the park from the finish line. Thankfully from here it is all on the same level and on grass, which makes for a very fast finish. You run around the edge of the park, crossing a very small stone bridge before looping back round to the finish next to the café again.
- Time: 27:00
- Place: 71/206
- Gender Place: 58
- Age Category Place (SM30-34): 7
- Age Graded Score: 47.90%
- Most Events Global Position: 302
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: