At the right time of year, whales are a big attraction at Sandon Point parkrun.
Sandon Point is about 13km north of Wollongong in New South Wales. It is a place of significant Aboriginal importance, with evidence of it having been a meeting, ceremonial and burial place as long as 6000 years ago.
The stunning beachside parkrun hugs the coast for most of the 5km, providing great ocean views. There are a couple of deceptive hills, according to Event Director Amy Carrad, but nothing that has stopped first timers returning again. Dogs and prams are welcome on the course, with a few grassy sections to slow some pram runners or walkers down.
“We have whales – in whale season – and the view from the post-parkrun café cannot be beaten. Recently, we had a group of tourists visit from one of the Sydney parkruns. Her
friends said she could choose anywhere in New South Wales to do her 250th parkrun and they would travel there with her. Of all the parkruns, she chose Sandon Point,” Amy said.
Starting in June 2013 with 39 participants and three volunteers, the event now attracts around 200 in the colder seasons and around 250 during the warmer months.
“I started parkrunning when looking through previous grant recipients during the course of my PhD. I got hooked on running every week as fast as I possibly could, with a few volunteer stints along the way. Once I reached my 100th run, something in my brain changed and I knew it wasn’t only about running all the time. I stepped into the role of RD and recently got asked to become ED when our previous ED announced he wanted to retire from the role.
“I love the event because the people there have truly become my parkrun family. The people there know about my life more broadly and asked how my thesis was going, how the job hunt was going. You see one another outside of parkrun and whether there’s time for a chat or only a quick “hi”, you feel more connected to your local community,” Amy said.
Amy said many of the regular Sandon Point volunteers had never or rarely had their barcodes scanned. “They come along with their partners or parents. It is lovely that parkrun allows them to have a morning out together, getting involved in different ways.”
Amy also said many younger members of the community had volunteered. “Most of these young people are involved in the Duke of Edinburgh, but many continue to come because they find a place in their community,” she said.
The essential post-parkrun coffee is 20 metres from the finish line, overlooking the ocean.
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