Are you in training for the very popular Lane Cove Fun Run? Do you want to set some personal running goals? Do you want to get out on a Saturday morning and exercise with the family and the pooch? We have found just the thing for you – parkrun. ITC asked Grant Berthold to tell us all about parkrun Willoughby!!
parkrun started in London in 2004 when a few friends went for a run in Bushy Park. There are now over 1,000 parkruns around the world including over 200 in Australia. It’s a free, timed 5km, volunteer-led event that you can walk, jog, or run. People now plan their holidays around parkrun locations! Register once, print out your barcode, and that works at any parkrun around the world. The closest parkrun to Lane Cove is the Willoughby parkrun and quite a few Lane Cove residents go every Saturday morning.
parkun started in Sydney a few years ago at St Peters. Over the years came Curl Curl and more recently Mosman, as the Sydney team scoured Sydney for locations and volunteer teams that could manage a new parkrun. Willoughby started on 5 November 2016, with the support of Willoughby Council and corporate sponsors.
It’s a 1 lap, clockwise course out and back. Starting and finishing on the oval at Artarmon Reserve. The course is primarily flat with slightly undulated areas out and back. The course starts on the oval in Artarmon Reserve, then heads clockwise around the back of the oval to complete one full lap then heads off to the left out to the first turn-around point under the Artarmon Road (Flat Rock Creek) underpass.
Runners head back towards the oval keeping left then out to the freeway, the under the Gore Hill Fwy. Following the walking path towards Willoughby Leisure Centre. Runners will run along the bottom of Willoughby Leisure Centre pass the Henry Lawson Cave, under the Aboriginal Art Work tunnel around to the left. Runners will then run until they reach a flower bed round about and run back. On the runners return they will take a left when they reach the oval and finish on the grass on the oval at Artarmon Reserve in front of the carpark.
How many people participate in parkrun Willoughby each week?
Between 160-190 per week, of all ages, abilities, and demographics participate each week. We even have people from the Achilles Running Club come along. This is a non-for-profit which pairs a runner with another runner who may have a disability such as impaired sight. You can read about it here.
Is it for everyone?
Yes, absolutely. We emphasize that although it’s timed it’s a ‘run’, not a ‘race’. It’s about participation, and fun, whatever that means for you, and another way for a community to come together in a common and healthy interest. Walk it, skip it, wheel it, run with your kids, parents, dogs, prams or wheelchair. Most weeks over half our cohort are women, 20 or so under 16’s, and probably a dozen or more retirees. We have a ‘tail runner’ who walks the course and makes sure no-one gets lost or left behind. Just come and do it, and bring your friends! You get a free t-shirt after 50 runs.
How much does it cost?
Nothing – it’s free! but you must register before your first run. The good news is that you only ever register with parkrun once. Don’t forget to bring a printed copy of your barcode (request a reminder). If you forget it, you won’t get a time.
What is one of your favourite stories about a parkrun?
Many years ago during the Christmas holidays, I did the Wimbledon Common parkrun which, being a national park, was marked out with talcum powder … which was a bit hard to see on the snow. So I just followed all the people in front!
Are you permitted to take furry friends?
Yes, on a short leash.
Are children allowed to participate?
Absolutely! Under 11’s must stay with their adult at all times. Kids have their own barcodes and get a free t-shirt after 10 runs.
Is it a social atmosphere?
Many people stay around and chat, and cheer on their friends. We don’t have the numbers yet to tempt a coffee van to come to us, so we’re looking at local cafes to head to for a post parkrun fix.
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