Whether you're currently a runner, or perhaps you would like to find out more on how to become one - you're at the right place. The St Peters parkrun event is held every Saturday at 8am. Best of all, its free. The St Peter's parkrun event was founded by Paul Wilcock, an extraordinary person with a vision and a sense of community and giving back to others. In addition to running the St Peters parkrun every Saturday on a volunteer basis, Paul is also a freelance photographer and works in IT. The parkrun events are also about to start up in Parramatta and Curl Curl.
Let's face it Sydney, we are an army of passionate runners. There are so many of us (whether in running events or otherwise) that are so proud to wear a t-shirt or a singlet that tells people that we have competed in this triathlon or the Sydney Running Festival. The St Peters parkrun is living proof that running is a great and popular form of exercise for many Sydneysiders. Although the St Peters and Alexandria areas are in Sydney's Inner South, it was amazing to see people that travel all the way from Penrith and Wollongong to partake in the St Peters parkrun every weekend. Some of us that live closer to home, including yours truly who now lives only about 10-15 minutes away, there is no excuse.
Even though the run starts at 8am, it is advisable to arrive at around 7:45am as you will be taken through a group pre-run stretch session, and a pre-run briefing. You are also encouraged to share your results on the St Peters parkrun Facebook page, and sometimes (for doing this) prizes are up for grabs too. One lucky fellow runner (from last Saturday when I took part as a runner) will win a gift voucher from The Running Store. All of us runners were in really great hands last Saturday. Aaron from Balmain Sports Medicine took us through the warm-up and stretching process.
Image: St Peters parkrun Facebook page. The lovely volunteers.
One of the runners from Penrith actually volunteered at last Saturday's St Peters parkrun due to injury. This person is apparently a really fast runner, who completes the course in 20 minutes or less. Now this is dedication.
Through the vision of someone out there to create a difference and create a fitter, friendlier Sydney; parkrun at St Peters now attracts around 80-140 runners (beginners and experienced) who wish to run 5km every weekend (or most weekends) in achieving their various fitness and personal goals. Not bad going for a parkrun event that has been around since January 2012. Paul wishes to help more people achieve their personal and fitness goals through this weekly exercise ritual.
Image: St Peters parkrun Facebook page. At the starting line.
As I say the word "ritual" please do not take this at face value. How often you run is dependent on you and how your body is feeling at any given moment. The beauty about the St Peters parkrun is that (in addition to being free) there is no commitment period and no contracts unlike a gym. If you can't attend every Saturday, that's fine.
Image: St Peters parkrun Facebook page. Running along the course of this parkrun.
This is one ongoing run club. The St Peters parkrun is also an ongoing weekly event that starts at 8am at Sydney Park in Alexandria. This is not a running event that pops up weeks in advance to help people train for the City2Surf, and to then disappear after such an event finishes for the year, to only come back on deck at the same time next year. The St Peters parkrun is here to help you achieve your running and fitness goals on an ongoing basis.
When partaking in this weekly event, you need to come to the chimney area at Sydney Park. If you have never been to this park before, you will easily be able to recognise this area. The park is right near St Peters train station with ample car parking facilities. Although the race starts at 8am, if you wish to participate and if you wish to be timed, you still need to register on the St Peters parkrun website prior to your first run, and you will receive a barcode to tie to your shoe. Like any timing chip, your time does not start counting down until you cross the start line. The whole starting experience was a bit of an unconscious blur to me when I took part as a runner in this event yesterday, as at the time of writing this. However I did not hear any scary loud guns going off.
Image: St Peters parkrun Facebook page. Filiz, the first St Peters parkrunner of the month.
The course is full of variety and is rather challenging. You need to run this course a couple of times to get used to it. The course was designed by the creator and organiser of the St Peters parkrun. Paul uses this course everyday, and conveniently lives nearby. It is awesome to see someone giving back to the community. Paul was someone who (although this is quite personal to him, and he is more than happy to share this with people) wanted to manage a healthy weight back in May last year. It was his desire to fulfil this fitness goal that gave him the desire to take up running. Paul has since competed in long distance running events such as the Sydney Running Festival, and has lost 16 kilos in the process.
The course stays on par within Sydney Park. There is a small part of the course where you're running on the back streets right across the road from the industrial area side of Alexandria. There is just one steep hill (off memory) and the rest of the time you're running inside the park. You do not realise how massive Sydney Park is until you have run a lengthly 5km circuit in and around it.
There are white arrows on the concrete tracks to direct you throughout the course. For tricky areas, volunteer marshalls are on hand. They were also friendly, and they were a great breath of fresh air. The St Peters parkrun also gives you the chance to make some great, likeminded friends sharing at least one common goal. You might be inspired to give back by volunteering. The St Peters parkrun needs at least seven volunteers to keep the event going on a weekly basis for everyone's benefit.
Image: St Peters parkrun Facebook page. More runners having fun.
Even though the St Peters parkrun is a fun event, it is still advisable to partake in some extra training on the other days of the week when you're not running in this event. Also, respect your body. There will be days when your body does not want to run.
You might run 1km and then walk a bit and then run some more. That is also okay. Also be gentle on yourself when partaking in this event if you have experienced a major life event, whether positive or otherwise within the same week. For instance with me, although this is personal I moved house the Wednesday prior, and come Saturday I was really tired and hence wasn't able to run at my best.
There were times where I felt like I was coming last, however much to my surprise as I crossed the finishing line, a miracle occurred. I ran this challenging 5km course with a myriad of distractions in 30 minutes. Your body and your mind feel so fantastic after completing the St Peters parkrun. To my surprise there were quite a fair few runners behind me, even though I felt like I was coming last again.
You will experience a few distractions along the St Peters parkrun. Sydney Park is a dog friendly park, and you're going to get a few in your way in tandem with some leisurely walkers and couples holding hands. You are pre-warned about this. The St Peters parkrun is also great edification on the importance of focus, concentration and ensuring that your mindset is in tip top positivity as much as possible.
Image: St Peters parkrun Facebook page. The timing barcode.
Having had a chance to chat to a number of experienced and new runners at this event, all of them have a lot of fun at the St Peters parkrun every weekend. The marshalls are really encouraging. They somehow give you encouragement such as "you can do it" and "you're doing so well" when you need it the most. Naturally my legs are still a little stiff an exact 24 hours later. My body feels fantastic and so do I. I am so pleased to have come across the St Peters parkrun, and this running event is awesome. When you run once at this parkrun event, you will want to keep coming back and so you should. Worth two short train trips for in my case. Thank you to Paul and St Peters parkrun for an amazing running experience.
Image: St Peters parkrun Facebook page. Thank you St Peter's parkrun
Just a couple of things I need to point out about this event:
1. After registering on the St Peters parkrun website to participate, you MUST print out and bring your barcode to the parkrun event you have registered for.
2. All images where cited/taken from the St Peters parkrun Facebook page for this article actually come fromwww.paulwilcock.com. The organiser of the St Peters parkrun took these images and owns the copyright to them.