If you don't already know Parkrun – let me introduce you. Parkrun is a free, timed, 5km run, organized by volunteers and run in various parks and open spaces. Parkrun originated in the UK back in 2004 before starting in Australia in 2011, where the first run was on the Gold Coast, at Main Beach. Fast forward to 2022 and there are now 9 Gold Coast Parkrun locations.
It is very much an event for everyone. There is no emphasis on your placing, just a record of your time and the challenge to better your own time as the weeks go by. So it's a race against yourself. You can walk, jog, run, volunteer, spectate – whatever, just come along. As I mentioned, it's free, so there is no excuse for not taking part. If you are not a runner, you can start walking and work your way up to a run, as your fitness improves. It's a perfect way to help with any fitness goals. The people are a friendly bunch. I met my running friend on my first few runs and we've run and chatted more than 1,000kms since then. Now that I have run over 200 Parkruns, it could be time I ran all 9 of the Parkrun events on the Gold Coast.
Course description: This course is based in and around Tallowwood Park, running a 2.5km circuit twice. It loops around a central lake, which is a very pretty setting. It's mostly on a mix of concrete path and boardwalk path, with a short grass section, at the start and finish (which was rather wet after heavy rain, when I visited in February).
An elderly runner accurately summed up this run as "deceptively hilly" - as what seemed like inclines, morphed into hills, when running. It's a great run, for those ready to venture off flat Parkruns, such as the beachfront ones found along the Gold Coast.
Although I listened to the run director's clear instructions about the course, I found I wasn't always aware of which way I should be running. I think this was due to the spread of ability being strung out along the sections and people seemed to be running in various directions, as we looped clockwise and anticlockwise around the lake. Probably it was just me, but listen carefully before you set off. I need to thank the lovely blonde haired boy who ran in front of me, guiding me at all turns.
Main reason to run this course: The lake – it provides a beautiful setting and the challenge of more of a hilly course, rather than pancake flat.
Golden Moments: Family members encouraged each other through the finish, especially the child shouting "Go, Grandma, Go, Go, Go!" when Grandma was running in with a pram at the end. The encouragement of run director Ben to all finishers, particularly those close to the next minute - counting down the last 10 seconds to a minute time change - which motivated myself and many others to sprint finish. The blonde-haired boy who guided me so cheerfully around the course. The early morning sun sparkling off the water.
Tallowwood Park, Highland Reserve, Rose Valley Drive, Upper Coomera. The course starts on the northern side of the lake. My maps app took me to Tallowwood Park but around the opposite side, so rather enter the following intersection – "Cnr of Rose Valley Drive & Lysterfield Rs" and you will see the start from there. It's just along from the Highland Reserve convenience store.
Don't forget your barcode. No barcode = no time. Your time gets emailed to you after the event. You need to register before you go for the first time and carry a barcode with you. If you have a printed one, it helps to laminate it, as when it gets damp with rain or sweat, it tends to fall apart or you can use your phone. I was gifted a Parkrun wristband with my barcode on, which is one of the most useful gifts I've ever received. Click here to register.
Parkrun is very much a family-friendly event and the Coomera parkrun had a good number of families participating. There were dads with kids plus mums and a few grandparents running with prams. There was a welcoming atmosphere and encouragement in at the finish. The nice thing I also noticed was the spread of ability, from some very focused and fast frontrunners, through a variety of ages and fitness levels, to those embarking on their running journey. Many were introducing young children to the Parkrun experience which is great.
For more info, on the 430 locations around Australia, follow the link.