Just reaching the finish line of the weekly 5,000 meter parkrun leg stretch is enough of an achievement…for most participants.
- A movement has emerged where Australians are flocking to new, interesting and exotic parkuns
- There are currently 441 parkrun sites in Australia and thousands overseas
- So-called parkrun adventurers say they are motivated by the places they see, the people they meet, and the desire to tick off their lists
But many Australians travel hundreds or even thousands of miles just to reach the start line.
This group – dubbed the “adventurers” of parkrun – have formed a network that shares the wonders of their travels on internet forums, social media and even a podcast.
At hundreds of parkrun sites in Australia and thousands around the world, they compare notes on how different a 5 kilometer run (or walk) is.
“They’re all the same distance apart, but they have their own flavor,” said 48-year-old nurse Nadine Crawford.
“There were places where we came to and we thought, ‘well, this is a place I would never go’.
Together with her husband, Ian, she will get into his motorhome and travel around her hometown of Victoria – and beyond – whenever she gets the chance.
“We love Fridays, getting away from it all in the afternoon, going somewhere that has parkrun, doing a parkrun event, hanging out in the area and then coming home or spending a few days,” he said. she declared.
“Never go anywhere that doesn’t have parkrun on Saturdays.”
The Crawfords are not alone.
There’s Darren from the NSW Central Coast, who has done 188 parkruns in 90 different events.
And Julie and Gordon, who completed hundreds of parkruns in retirement and are currently traveling around the New South Wales area.
Then there’s Anne from Adelaide, who is known as a ‘statesman’ or part of the ‘Peel Club’ – named after its first member – as she has completed a parkrun in every state and territory.
Everyone is eager to meet new people and discover new places. But some, like Anne, are also motivated by what are called the “challenges” of the community.
The opportunity to travel to Darwin for a work conference this weekend allowed Sam Schroder to tick off another parkrun.
But she chose the original Darwin CBD site of the Northern Territory, rather than the scenic Nightcliff run on the city’s northernmost coast.
“Parking in Darwin means ticking one off for the ‘pioneer’ challenge, for every state and territory’s first parkrun, while Nightcliff is Australia’s most northerly parkrun, so it’s a ‘geographical compass’ tick,” she said.
“I’m not ready to do this without my husband.”
This fascination with leveling up has created a phenomenon where parkruns starting with rare letters such as “Y” and “Z” become tourist attractions.
“Cleve [in South Australia] is really smart because their track is called Yeldulknie Weir,” Sam said.
“They bring a lot of people to visit their town to do the ‘Y’, and there’s only one ‘Z’ in Australia.”
As Sam hits the pavement in the NT, Nadine travels further this week.
She has already participated in parkruns in England, New Zealand, Singapore, France, South Africa and Namibia, and soon she will experience what an Irish event has to offer.
Her experience in South Africa, she said, was typical of what the community offers.
“I’m just standing there talking to someone, and the next thing I hear over the bullhorn, ‘is there a Nadine Crawford?'” she said.
“I had a welcoming committee at this parkrun in Green Point, South Africa, just because of parkrun’s connections and someone who told them I was coming.
“I also got to volunteer, which was a great experience, and after the event, the team stood there to chat with me, and they were so interested, and then one of them even kindly took me back to my hotel and gave me lots of travel tips.”
Schroder is returning home to Picton in New South Wales from Darwin in a few days, but she has already planned a trip to Perth and a place at the Peel Club.
“This conference I’m attending now will eventually be in Western Australia, but we’ll be back in April next year,” she said.
“I won’t wait.”