First Parkrun

Gardiners Creek Parkrun has been held 103 times. Next week is its two-year anniversary. The photo shows runners amassing last Saturday, fifteen minutes before the 8 AM start, but it doesn’t do justice to the sheer numbers involved. 249 people of all shapes and sizes took part. It’s a stunning example of volunteer-led excellence.

Of course last Saturday wasn’t the first Saturday of 2020. On the 4th, I caught a tram and walked to the Gardiners Creek assembly point, only to discover it had been called off due to smoke haze. How frustrating! To leach out my frustration, I ran the Parkrun distance, 5 kms, back towards home.

On the 11th, I was nervous. I shouldn’t have been. 5 kms is short. But 5 kms is my current maximum, and there were 248 other aspirants surrounding me, and this Big Year is important to me and … I was anxious. When the start instruction was issued, dozens swarmed past me, and after a kilometre I felt truly weary and out of breath, although I was below my current top speed. My first kilometre was slow but then I sped up a little and by the time the superstars at the front of the pack stormed towards me in the reverse direction, I felt comfortable but slow. I puffed the final kilometre and ended up with just over 6:30 per kilometre. I was beaten by kids, overweight lurchers, and weedy-looking 20-somethings. I ended up placed 165th, 7th out of the 11 in my age bracket.

The goal is to run this Parkrun consistently (it’s a Big Year, right, so that means every Saturday, no ifs or buts) and, consistent with injury caution, to improve my speed to 6:00 per km. It’s a big ask.

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