News - 24th September 2020

parkrun returns


In mid-July, the Scarborough family hooked up their new caravan for an Australian adventure, with a rough plan to complete a half lap of Australia starting from Canberra. Prepared to accept that COVID-19 could interrupt these plans at any point, they didn’t expect to have the good fortune to enjoy parkrun’s return in the Northern Territory last weekend.


Like all good parkrun adventurers, they packed their barcodes and enjoyed a #parkrunday at Nightcliff on Saturday.


Mark explains how they ended up at Nightcliff for the return of parkrun and what other courses they have visited on their travels so far.


We ran at Lawson, Bathurst, Orange, Narromine Wetlands, Dubbo, Tamworth, Armidale, Coffs Harbour, Broadbeach Waters, Varsity Lakes, Surfers Paradise, Paradise Point, Nambour (met Fluffy!), Hervey Bay, Yeppoon (also did a test run of their new proposed course), Rockhampton, Airlie Beach, Cairns, Mount Isa and Palmerston.


While these were not the true parkrun experience, it was great to see and experience these other courses. The weather during only a couple of weeks varied from freezing cold in central NSW to stinking hot in far North Queensland and Northern Territory. A highlight was getting to meet Fluffy at Nambour. We were told we were incredibly lucky as we went late in the day.


At the start of September, we were in Kakadu, Northern Territory when we received the news that parkrun was to return in the Northern Territory in two weeks, with friends tagging us on Facebook. The day after the announcement we were actually meant to be heading to Darwin. A slight amendment to our itinerary which saw us visit Katherine and Litchfield National Park before Darwin rather than afterwards meant we would be in Darwin in time for parkrun!


My wife, Nicole was stuck on 49 parkruns during the Christmas, New Year period due to poor air quality in Canberra from the bushfires. It worked out to be about six potential parkruns when you factor in Christmas Day and the New Years double. We thought that was bad but our 8-year-old son James has been stuck on 49 parkruns since the shut down in March. He would get his 50th parkrun on the return of parkrun in the Northern Territory!


We decided we would run at Nightcliff despite being closer to Palmerston so Nicole and the kids could get their N for the alphabet challenge and to run at the northernmost parkrun in Australia. The night before it rained a lot which raised the humidity on parkrun day to off the charts for us Canberrans. We had to be up a lot earlier than we normally would be for the 7am start rather than the 8am starts in Canberra. The advantage of this was seeing the sunrise at the course.


To celebrate James’ 50th parkrun, we surprised him at Nightcliff with two large helium 5 and 0 balloons. Nicole, Elise and I wore our 50 parkrun shirts to mark the occasion.


The balloons stood out for Shani who was doing a Facebook LIVE cross to Danny from the With Me Now podcast who also had Mel Erbacher and Renee Gimbert as guests. Shani approached us to chat on the live stream about being back at parkrun and James’ milestone.


It felt so good to be back - so comfortable and normal. The event team held a first-timers briefing, the run brief was concise in line with the COVID-19 framework and all participants respected social distances. The start was spread out and everyone was encouraged to self-seed. We were then away on our first Northern Territory parkrun and first parkrun in six months. Being an out and back course, James got a lot of thumbs up and congratulations for his milestone. Crossing the line with James grinning ear to ear with his big helium balloons was amazing.


At our home parkrun at Wagi Bridge, we have a tradition where those who have a milestone lead the group across the Wagi Bridge to the start line. James was disappointed to not be able to do this but equally pleased to finally get his 50th parkrun. To honour James’ milestone, our Wagi Bridge Run Director organised a (not)parkrun on the day to test an alternate course for Wagi Bridge where everyone wore their red 50 shirts and were filmed crossing Wagi Bridge.


It was not until after the run that it struck me just how much I miss parkrun. Not the 5km run because we can do that whenever and wherever. It is the parkrun community I miss, whether it be our home parkrun or visiting another parkrun as adventurers. We hope that we will all get to be at parkrun really soon and to have more parkrun adventures.


We have been very fortunate to travel so far across Australia at this time. With Victoria in harsh lockdown conditions, this good fortune is not lost on us. You can catch up on our adventures on Facebook and Instagram at Our Family – Australian Adventures.


While pakrun may have been taken away due to COVID-19, they’ll never take our FREEDOM parkruns!!


Mark Scarborough

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