Being in Australia for as long as I have been now, I have learned that running is a big thing over here and perhaps why parkrun is now starting to thrive. Equally as much of a big thing here though is being at the beach, so it stands to reason that somewhere the Venn diagram had to meet for a parkrun to be held on a beach. That somewhere is on Bar Beach in Newcastle, with the entire 5km being held on the sand, and that is exactly where I decided to spend my Saturday morning today as I just had to do it before I leave.
Before running here I did a load of research online into whether I should run barefoot or with my shoes and it seems like there is no hard and fast rule about which is best, it pretty much comes down to personal preference. When we turned up though the event team hit the nail on the head when they said that if you are only going to run it once, then barefoot is part of the whole experience, can’t argue with that!
The other thing to consider when running on the beach, aside from footwear choices, is of course the tide. No other parkrun in the world has the situation where the width of the ‘path’ depends on the time of day but due to the irregularity of tide times (in relation to times of day at least) you are not guaranteed the same run every week. There are going to be weeks where the path is narrow and only soft sand and equally there are going to be times where it is as wide as it can be surfacing a lot of hard sand. Today was one of only 3 or 4 times a year where it was the latter, a low tide at exactly 8am on a Saturday, making it one of the ‘easiest’ times of the year to run this parkrun.
Easy is of course an understatement when running on sand. It sounds easy and it is true that it is more forgiving than tarmac or concrete, it has more give and much less shock but it actually is much tougher for it. Paths don’t normally cave in under each step or aren’t as uneven, they also normally aren’t slanted, so running on sand gives you a whole new set of things to think about. It might just require practice or might be that you have to run a different way on sand than you would on any other surface, but give me grass or trail any day, I think sand might just have pipped tarmac to the worst surface for me and my legs.
Here’s hoping my legs, feet and muscles recover enough to run the next couple of weeks as I have a rare run of 4 parkruns back-to-back planned over the coming weeks to see out my parkrun days in Australia.
Now this is probably going to be the easiest course description I will ever have to write. With the whole course being on the beach there are not a lot of turns and places it could go or you could get lost, so it is quite simply a double out and back starting from in front of the Surf Club and turning around just before the Ocean Baths at the other end of the beach.
- Time: 29:32
- Place: 40/85
- Gender Place: 31
- Age Category Place (SM30-34): 2
- Age Graded Score: 43.79%
- Most Events Global Position: 338
- GPS Tracking: https://www.strava.com/activities/722580855
- Full Results: http://www.parkrun.com.au/thebeaches/results/weeklyresults/?runSeqNumber=83
- Course Information: http://www.parkrun.com.au/thebeaches/course/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thebeachesparkrun
- Park Information: http://www.visitnewcastle.com.au/accommodation/bar-beach/22111