Fingal Bay parkrun is located in Port Stephens, NSW. It’s a popular spot for holidaymakers because the area features beautiful white sandy beaches, national parks and endless water sports and activities. The close proximity to Sydney and the peaceful coastal region attracts many visitors to the area. And the small town of Fingal Bay sees a huge increase in population for those seeking some summer beach vibes. For many parkruns around Australia, the numbers swell considerably in peak holiday season and Fingal Bay is no exception.
Fingal Bay parkrun has been up and running for well over 4 years. The course starts on the lawn adjacent to the surf club and follows the beach path towards the boat ramp near the first turn around point. The path then goes through coastal scrublands and forest areas. It’s an impressive beachside course with parkunners heading to the Longboat Café for the obligatory post-run coffee. Fingal Bay parkrun averages around 80 runners each Saturday morning. During holiday times, especially over Summer and Easter, the population of Port Stephens triples. Fingal Bay parkrun sees a significant increase in numbers with their record number of parkrunners recorded at 253. The event team note that they have many visitors, even in the offseason as it’s a great location for holidays and of course some parkrun tourism.
The regulars at Fingal Bay are the essence of the event though. Runners, joggers and walkers from the local area all congregate each Saturday at 8am. There are families, some athletes from the local footy and netball teams, as well as RAAFies, local workers and even a waiter from the café who then serves the coffee after the run. There are a couple of rather amazing parkrunners at Fingal Bay including Colleen O’Shea who is 86 years old and only started running in her 60′s. Its rare for Colleen not to turn up for parkrun. Her husband used to drive her to parkrun and park the car right near the surf club so that he could watch Colleen run past. Sadly, her husband passed away recently, but Colleen has bravely continued coming to parkrun supported by her family.
Another exceptional Fingal Bay parkunner is Tanya Priest. Tanya started at Fingal Bay in April of 2017 after deciding she needed to make her health and fitness a priority. She weighed in at 117kg when she began and could barely walk the 5km course. But she was determined to do better and was shown so much support from the parkrun community. She never once felt that she did not belong because of her time or size. She has lost over 25kgs and is now able to run the full 5km. She credits the parkrun community in helping her gain confidence and self-belief.
The volunteers at Fingal Bay are integral to the event as with any parkrun. They have an excellent event team which is led by husband and wife, David and Tracey Pass as Event Directors. Fingal Bay has a couple of Run Directors and a good base of regular volunteers to assist with the running. Due to these selfless volunteers, Fingal Bay parkrun has changed the small beach town for the better. It has given people a sense of community and a challenge in a supportive environment. It’s also given a whole heap of sun-loving beachgoers a place to parkrun too. And we just love those summer beach vibes at Fingal Bay – definitely one to go on your parkrun tourism list.
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