For many parkrunners, Saturday mornings mean two things – a 5k walk, jog or run and the post-parkrun coffee! And the people at Mount Gambier do parkrun as well as any devotee but they also do coffee like true aficionados.
Mount Gambier parkrun is famed for its post run café scene, with coffee and breakfast sometimes turning into lunch!
Mount Gambier is most known, by the wider population, for its amazing natural features. Due to its location on the side of a volcano, geographic features such as water filled craters, caves and sinkholes are tourist attractions for those seeking a natural wonderland. Mount Gambier parkrun is located around Blue Lake, renowned for its stunning sapphire coloured water. Any parkrun tourists are always invited along to join the regulars for breakfast after the run.
Mount Gambier parkrunners head to Metro Bakery and Café after parkrun. Most weeks, well over 40 people come for their morning caffeine fix and generally fill three long tables reserved for parkrun. Regular parkrunner, Kerri Baker says, “the early finishers come in first and by the time the walkers and volunteers arrive, some seats are beginning to free up so it becomes a bit of a rotation.” Event Director, Phil Ackland believes so many people go to coffee because “it’s popular for the social interaction and that’s also helped along nicely by the quality food and service at the cafe too. There is a definite positive impact due to the follow through from parkrun to the café. It’s an extension of the social connections that are made at the event each week.” Kerri agrees that the post-run coffee also strengthens friendships as it gives regular parkrunners a chance to catch up in a social setting each week. She says, “we all lead busy lives that often limits social interaction with our friends; this provides an ideal opportunity to keep those friendships strong.”
Metro Bakery and Café has been aptly named, with the Greek word Metrio meaning ‘meeting place’. Owners, Toni and Theo Vorenas, use many traditional Greek and Italian methods to create a range of cakes, custards, pastries, croissants and sourdough bread all from scratch in their own kitchen. Toni says that the parkrun group bring with them an energetic vibe, “they are full of life and cheeky humour”. The most popular dishes amongst the parkrun crowd are saganaki eggs or fruit toast for a lighter option. Kerri says that the owners really look after them and the staff know many of the parkrunners by name.
Conversations amongst parkrunners cover a wide range of topics and Phil notes, “invariably it always comes back around to running related stories and parkrun. The mood amongst us all is always very chatty and relaxed. On at least one occasion, the breakfast menus have been replaced with lunch menus to sustain the lengthy discussions.” It is obvious that the inevitability of a post parkrun coffee provides time to further strengthen social connections made at parkrun. It means that people feel connected, supported and are further engaged in their local community. It’s another example of how parkrun is providing opportunities for people to connect and belong.
Back at the café, Toni says it’s a pleasure to have the parkrun crowd turn up every Saturday morning. She says, “we are always left with a smile and a good vibe after the guys have left.” This is further evidence of the parkrun spirit weaving its way through life and leaving its mark everywhere it touches.
Do you have a favourite café? What are some of your favourite post-parkrun rituals?
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