Monday, 30 January 2012

St Peters parkrun, Sydney

As I write this I’m sitting on Virgin Australia flight DJ535 from Sydney to the Gold Coast a very happy little camper. Why? Yesterday we successfully launched St Peters parkrun, our fourth event in Australia and our first in Sydney. This is a real milestone for parkrun ‘down under’ and I am delighted with how smoothly it all went.

Sydney is the most populous city in Australia with an approximate population of 4.6 million people. As the site of the first British settlement in 1788 it is the historic capital, and today it is also Australia’s commercial and economic hub. As such Sydney needs a great parkrun, and we need Sydney to be considered a truly national organisation!

Yesterday’s launch had been a long time in the planning. I was first contacted by Event Director Paul Wilcock in April last year so, just like having a baby, it has taken 9 months from conception to birth. Initially we were planning the first Sydney event for Centennial Park however at Paul’s suggestion we decided upon Sydney Park located in the inner-west suburb of St Peters, sitting along the borders of Alexandria, Newtown and Erskineville. Formerly a brick works and a municipal waste tip, Sydney Park is 109 acres in area, which makes it the third largest park in inner-city Sydney and perfect for a 5km parkrun.

Ably assisted by Aaron Pidgeon, the former remedial massage therapist at Main Beach parkrun, Paul has been leading keen punters in Sydney Park for the last few months for ‘unofficial’ parkruns as a way of building momentum and gathering support from the local running community. Paul and Aaron did a fine job of this as the event had 137 registrations prior to the launch, not to mention well over 200 ‘likes’ on the ‘Sydney parkrun‘ Facebook page.

On launch morning itself the overcast weather threatened rain but ended up holding beautifully enabling the 64 runners who attended a perfect first St Peters parkrun event. Congratulations to Sato Ashida who came in first in 17:12 and is, for one week at least, the course record holder! I came in 7th place in 19:47, a pretty good time considering the ‘heartbreak hill’ we had to battle up mid-run!

So thanks to Paul, Aaron and the other volunteers who made 21 January, 2012 a special day for parkrun in Australia. Our next event launch will be Kirra parkrun on 18 February, our 2nd event on the Gold Coast. See you there!

Added on behalf of Tim Oberg, country manager for parkrun Australia.

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