Lake Tuggeranong is located just over 20 minutes south of the city, with scenic reserves, playgrounds and boardwalks all along its shores. Each Saturday morning, the serenity is shattered by the thunder of hundreds of sneakers, pounding the pavement in a flurry of colour, laughter and speed for the weekly Lake Tuggeranong Parkrun.
Runners first congregate at Tuggeranong Town Park at 8am, before running a 5-kilometre route from the park, along the boardwalk, across to the other side of the lake and then back to the start. Each runner has registered beforehand and printed out a barcode that they keep on them when they run. When they return back to the start they are timed, given a ranking on a card and then they go to a nearby volunteer to scan their barcode and record the details, so they can check each week whether they have bettered their own time. The whole event is free, which creates a positive, community feel as everyone comes together each week to get faster than the week before.
Although I had personally heard of the parkrun, I didn't have any idea of how big this weekly event was - until it literally ran right past me one Saturday morning. My daughter and I were out for an early morning bike ride along Lake Tuggeranong, when a man jogging in the opposite direction told us that we may want to get off the path as there were "a few" runners on their way. Intrigued, we did as he suggested and we were shocked by the scale of people who came over the rise towards us. There was more than "a few" - we found out later that it was a staggering 274 runners!
The parade of runners on the Lake Tuggeranong Parkrun
As we made our way to the start/ finish line to learn more about the run, we walked past the "back of the pack", who were walking along at a steady pace. We learnt from the volunteers waiting at the start that you don't have to run - you can walk the route in approximately 40 minutes and better your time each week. As we waited with the volunteers for the front-runner to come back, we were told that they usually take about 18 minutes - however, after just 16 minutes the first runner was in sight...
The fastest runners make their way back to the finish line
Watching the runners and walkers come through was an inspiring way to spend the morning - with primary-school-age children, people jogging with prams and many over '70's showing their fitness. As everyone reached the end, there was a sense of camaraderie with each other, as they all came together with the same common goal.
As I was talking to the volunteers that give up their time to organise it each week, they all commented on the sense of community of this weekly event and the friends they have made - which makes people go back week after week. This run is also held at Lake Burley Griffin, Lake Ginninderra, Gungahlin and Queanbeyan each weekend, as well as all around Australia and the world. Parkrun originally began in England in 2004 and now has over 2 million people registered in 17 different countries. Here in Australia it is run by countless volunteers and sponsored by Medibank, Suncorp Bank, Tom Tom Sports and Embracing 2018, to promote fitness and health in the community.
Look out for the friendly volunteers in yellow and orange hi-vis vests. Image: Lake Tuggeranong Parkrun Facebook
Lake Tuggeranong Parkrun is a good way to improve your own fitness, with the motivation to get faster each week. The organisation of the volunteers and the whole event was impressive to say the least, with accurate record-keeping and a sense of fun at the same time. If you are looking for a new year's resolution, or a way to exercise outdoors amongst others, then why not find your nearest Parkrun and set yourself a challenge.
You don't get this view on the treadmill at the gym!