Canadian girl living and loving Melbourne. Mum, freelance writer and chaser of all experiences worth talking about.
Published April 21st 2014
Fun free fitness at Albert Park's Saturday morning runs
A crisp, bright autumn morning in Melbourne never fails to invigorate the senses. It welcomes a reawakening of my inner vitality that has a tendency to get bogged down by the hectic weekly grind of life. The sun is illuminating the expansive body of water before me, while a soft breath of wind passes me by. Birds and ducks by the dozen, grass and trees as green as country pastures and the sounds of friendly banter amongst people who share a common passion. I'm in good company on this fine Saturday morning. I'm about to start the weekly 5km Albert ParkRun around the stunning Albert Park Lake.
The Albert ParkRun is a timed 5km run every Saturday at 8am, rain or shine. It is run by a group of dedicated volunteers whose passion is to bring people of all ages and abilities together to enjoy being physically active in one of Melbourne's finest parks, all the while, not shelling out a cent - taking part in the Albert ParkRun is FREE.
The event is not a race so there is a noticeable void of competition amongst runners. Instead, comrade alongside comrade, it can be whatever you want it to be. You can give it a go just for fun, or you can go up against the clock as you try to shave off a few minutes from your last run.
As I approached the meeting point, it was a buzzing sea of spandex and fluorescent. The crowd of well over 100 runners exuded a sheen of excitable anticipation and there was a distinctively electric vibe in the air. Welcoming speeches were being delivered and newcomers were being briefed on the course. It is a professional, highly organised operation, run like a well oiled machine, yet it has such a strong welcoming, community feel to it, with such a great mix of friendly, like minded people.
As everyone gathered at the starting line, the excitement was palpable. The countdown was on, the starting horn was sounded and runners were off in a well organised flash.
After the crowd evened out somewhat, we could all find our own pace, sink into the experience and take in the beauty of the surrounds. With every pound of my foot on the gravel track, my eyes encountered another piece of stunning scenery. The Albert Park Lake itself, home to striking wildlife such as pelicans and blacks swans, is a little serving of serenity in a dense urban area. With Melbourne's CBD just off in the distance to the north, the impressive city view entices you to look at it, as the sun shines off the glassy towers. With a number of playgrounds, several picnic areas, a sizeable rowing community and clubhouses, the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre (MSAC) and Lakeside Stadium nearby, the Albert Park Lake complex proves itself as a dynamic resource and bubbling hub of activity.
The Albert ParkRun course starts at the Coot picnic area (opposite the MSAC) and winds itself around the lake anticlockwise, finishing at the Amphitheatre. The volunteers, clearly marked in flouro vests, are stationed along the route to help if required. At the end of the run, all runners are welcome to head to the Carousel Cafe (located at the Amphitheatre) for a coffee and a chat.
The Amphitheatre/Carousel Cafe where the post run coffee takes place
The event is free but it does require you to be registered through the Albert ParkRun website. You only register once, before your first run. Don't forget to bring a printed version of your barcode registration to each park run or you will not be able to get your time. Runners with dogs and prams are more than welcome but must observe the courtesy rules found on the Albert ParkRun website.
There have been 124 Albert ParkRuns so far, with an average of 125 runners weekly, the organisers sincerely welcome all runners regardless of skill level. They are a friendly bunch who like to have a good time.
Albert Park Lake is accessible by tram, by foot and by car. There is pay parking within the complex but also free parking off Albert Road and Lakeside Drive. For more information on the Albert ParkRun, visit their website. www.parkrun.com.au/albert-melbourne/