By: Roger Bailey
I suppose racking up 50 Parkruns (which I achieved at North Beach on 14 April 2018) is a minor milestone of a sort and I must admit to a small glow of satisfaction on eventually “earning the T-shirt”. I now no longer feel like a novice when mixing it with the literally hundreds of runners and walkers who sport 50s or 100s on their running shirts on the promenade on Saturday mornings.
Stella members might have noticed that I have not exactly been a regular at Gillies runs on Saturday mornings over the years; coffee and the newspaper in bed in the morning have long exerted an irresistible pull. But with advancing years making their presence increasingly felt in the shape of steadily slower training paces and race times, it was time for action. So, from April last year Parkrun has filled my need for a regular, short, sharp race to keep my pipes open and heart pumping.
North Beach Parkrun has a lot going for it. It is probably one of the fastest Parkrun courses anywhere, the promenade is wide, flat and made for racing, and it regularly attracts the largest number of participants; more than 2000 most Saturdays and a worldwide record of over 2500 a few weeks ago.
And it is very well organised – off we go at 08h00 sharp heading south from Suncoast, down the gentle slope past Circus-Circus and on to the hairpin turn-around point at South Beach, then the fun of trying to maintain pace on the return leg, where we old dogs usually make up places and time against the field, then the final sprint for the line at Suncoast. Of course, one doesn’t have to race – there are plenty of joggers and walkers, lots of family groups, and plenty of dogs taking their owners for a stroll.
After a while it gets in the blood, and most of the regulars turn up most Saturdays. From Stella, we have Pat Fisher, with well over 200 runs to her name and Pat Freeman with more than 100. Therese Hurly, also with more than 100 runs, usually shows me a clean pair of heels these days and Arthur Zimmerman always ranks highly in his and my age-group category. And there are dozens of long standing acquaintances from other running clubs, as well as more than a handful of new friends made at Parkrun, all doing our best to bust each other’s guts. In fact the element of competition is remarkable.
Is it doing me any good? It must be. And I no longer have any problems getting out of bed early on Saturday mornings.