My favourite places for parkrun tourism
Updated: Jul 29, 2020
This morning, I did some parkrun tourism at West Beach parkrun in Adelaide. It was my second South Australian parkrun, after doing Torrens parkrun last year.
My 156 parkruns have been on 36 different courses, so I thought I’d do a post about my favourite ones to visit.
Sandon Point – This was my first parkrun outside of Sydney, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s been a little while since I’ve been back, but it’s still the first place I think of for the best places for parkrun tourism. Starting and finishing overlooking the beach, the location is beautiful. It can get quite windy, but that doesn’t seem to deter anyone. Most of the course goes along the water, from one headland to the next, then down to a neighbouring beach. I can think of worse places to run! There is a nice spot for breakfast right near the start, and in summer it’s a great place to swim afterwards. There is an ocean pool for those (like me) who aren’t the biggest fan of waves. Highly recommended!
Kirra – I have run twice at Kirra, once the day before the Gold Coast Half Marathon, and once as a freedom run. It’s right next to the beach (there might be a theme here), making it a nice spot to run, and it’s very flat. It has wide paths, so there is plenty of space to run, and the Gold Coast Council has helpfully marked the path at the start/finish, turnarounds and at each kilometre (making it super easy to do a freedom run). My partner ran his all-time parkrun PB here last year, so it’s a good one for a fast hitout.
Lake Mac – This one had to make the list, as I ran my parkrun PB here! Similar to Kirra, it’s flat and fast, and only has one turnaround. The start and finish are in a nice spot next to the lake. Most of the rest of the course goes along a road, meaning it’s probably not the prettiest parkrun in the Hunter area, but it is quick. Some part of the path are a little narrow, so you might need to run single file. But the plus side of that is with pretty big numbers, there are plenty of people running various speeds to use as pacers!
South Bank – Sydney doesn’t have a ‘city’ parkrun, but if we did, I would hope it would be something like South Bank. We ran here in April, and it was by no means the easiest run – hot, hills, and people dodging. But it was so much fun running in the centre of Brisbane, starting in South Bank, going over the bridge to the Botanic Gardens and back. I’d love it if we could somehow have a Sydney parkrun around the Opera House!
Albury Wodonga – this is a nice spot for a parkrun, on the Murray River. It’s definitely not the only parkrun that crosses a river, but crossing a border is a lot more unique! It was a nice, shady course, with a bit of a hill over the river, and plenty of sections to get into a rhythm. The path was out of the way of traffic and wasn’t very busy, it felt like we were miles away from civilisation. I enjoyed it!
Bushy – Bushy is iconic. There’s nothing really like it, and I think every parkrunner should experience it (quick trip to London, no big deal). The big field (approx. 1000 runners) makes it logistically unique, the finish line timing, funnel and scanning system to manage so many runners was impressive to say the least. Being the home of parkrun makes it appealing, but it’s also a nice spot to run. We visited in October, and got cool, misty weather, with a few deer as spectators. The figure 8-ish course is flat and mostly on a gravel path through the park. There is a café in the park where we had breakfast afterwards, what more could you need?!
One I’d like to do again – Albert Park. I ran Albert parkrun the day before my disastrous Melbourne half marathon. I held back to save my energy for the marathon, but it was a really nice course around the lake, totally flat, and one big loop. I’m sure it would be one to run a quick time on the right day!
Honourable mentions – A few honourable mentions go to Kamay, The Ponds, Campbelltown and Chipping Norton. Kamay isn’t the easiest course with a few tricky hills, but being able to swim in the bay after the run definitely makes up for it. I have a soft spot for The Ponds and Campbelltown. The Ponds because I somehow managed to run the exact same time on my two runs there, and Campbelltown because I was first outright on the launch day, which was a PB at the time. Both are relatively flat courses, and good for a fast hit-out. Chipping Norton is another really nice course, set along a river, that feels like it’s worlds away from civilisation. A really nice place to run.
Toughest course – Lawson. I haven’t done Blackbutt or Shellharbour, but I have done Cronulla. I vote Lawson as harder because the day I went to Cronulla was also the day before a race, and I ran easier. Apparently the new Wildflower parkrun is also a contender.
As for West Beach this morning, that is currently my favourite Adelaide parkrun. It started next to the beach, and continued on a path next to the way, before turning off and running along the river. It was pretty flat, had a nice community feel, and breakfast at the surf club afterwards.
The only question left, is which one to visit next!