It’s a holiday from your own parkrun course, a chance to get away from your normal Saturday morning routine and smell the roses at another venue but above all sampling the scrumptious delights of a different café for breakfast. Sounds like a real holiday right? I know many parkrunners who wouldn’t mind a little break from that dreaded head wind at the 3km mark at Albert Park Lake and with so many courses in Victoria and Australia to explore you can always get your parkrun fix no matter where you’re heading for the weekend. There are no excuses and nowhere to hide! Every week at Albert Melbourne parkrun we welcome parkrun tourists from all over the globe from London to Estonia and beyond.
Running is often a mental game and the change of course can do wonders for parkrunners mental running health. The presence of different scenery, terrain, undulation and wildlife helps takes the performance anxiety away and successfully distracts you from the torture of what you are doing to yourself at 8am. There are often loops to run, interesting turn around points, bridges to traverse and hills to climb. Westerfolds parkrun seems to be the best spot in VIC for hill practice, if you dare. Whilst the courses may be different the people are the same welcoming, like-minded souls that you know and love from your local parkrun. That strong parkrun community spirit is present at all events and everyone appreciates the support from parkrun tourists. Keep in mind that it’s best not to visit a new course on their event launch day though. Let them find their feet and when they are up and running you will get the full experience. Oh and you can impress them with your milestones t-shirt too.
Combining your holiday with running isn’t as zany as it sounds. Especially if you find yourself back in the mother country and make the pilgrimage to parkrun mecca, Bushy Park, where you and about 1500 of your new best friends can experience where this awesomeness started over 10 years ago. See, it’s like studying history and was certainly a very memorable parkrun for local parkrun legend, Julie Stokes. It also doesn’t hurt to keep up your running on holiday to balance out all the wonderful food you eat whilst being away and still maintaining your fitness goals. So consult your trusty parkrun page before you go on vacation and synchronize your presence to align with a local parkrun. I’m sure your family won’t mind the parkrun based scheduling. ;0) Just be sure to check the start time as they do vary, even here in Australia as Matt found out the hard way when he visited Hobart. Running to the course for an 8am start is no fun when the event starts at 9am!
But we need not embark on a full-blown holiday to get that parkrun tourism feeling. A weekend road trip is often a good way to get some adventure into your day. Perhaps you have a weekend house in the country, like Brad who is looking forward to splitting his time between Albert Melbourne and Ballarat. Often we get to experience new courses when we combine a visit with friends and family who live in another suburb or town, this is what took me to Lillydale Lake parkrun where my friends Tania and Chiara were co-incidentally reunited. Since then Chiara has become a parkrun devotee. Maybe we have errands to run on the other side of the city and can still squeeze in a parkrun if we visit another course; it’s like playing an away game. Every year Albert Melbourne closes for 1 week due to the Grand Prix in March. This would be the prime time to get out and about. Trips away for Easter and Christmas are perfect opportunities for tourism too.
The scenic courses of Castlemaine, Sandon Point, South Bank, Inverloch, New Farm and Fingal Bay ranked the most popular amongst Albert Melbourne regulars with a special mention, from Brendan the parkrun tourism guru, to Altona Beach for the hidden gem factor. But despite the exotic allure of a change of scenery there was a resounding preference for our very own Albert Melbourne. So whilst a bit of parkrun tourism is always nice I guess there really is no place like home.