It was so nice to be back running the Sterkfontein trail for (not)parkrun after a long time away. I just missed the ambience created by all other parkrunners.
As (not)parkrun launched, we were allowed to run within a 5km radius from our houses. With the aid of modern sports watches, the variety of “routes” one could discover in the neighbourhood became an adventure in itself. So I discovered a true gem hiding in the middle of Port Elizabeth’s suburbs.
My run starts at the 3rd Ave dip in Newton Park and is known as the Baakens valley Guinea fowl trail. It is in its truest sense a (not)parkrun where every run through the valley can take you on a different path and you can end up in a different suburb that you had not seen before. There are many exit points along the trail with interesting names such as Dodds farm. The various trails and paths that have etched themselves into the surrounding landscape. It leads through the Walmer suburbs and through to Settlers Park, eventually ending at the Brickmakers Kloof road in Central, that is just opposite the local radio station, Algoa FM buildings.
In total, it is about 7 km and took me just over 51 minutes to complete. Depending on the route chosen for the day it can take you across a few streams, rivers, steep hills and rocky valleys.
Unfortunately, the area had developed a bit of a bad reputation in terms of some muggings and harassment, as the one sign to the entrance to a section of the park cautioned the visitor about keeping safe in groups. Fortunately, on a Saturday and Sunday morning, the area is buzzing with people and indeed, there is “safety in numbers” with many walkers, cyclist and runners enthusiastically navigating the terrain ahead.
Now we all patiently wait for the pandemic to move on so that parkrunners can return to parkrun, where half the fun is in the group dynamics. Whatever the motivation for the morning will be, to better one’s time or simply to have a good excuse to escape the “rat-nest” for an hour before having to join the “rat-race” again for another week ahead. (not)parkrunning the Baakens valley has taught me that no matter what the circumstances, to take the road less ventured and when you have committed yourself to the path, complete it, in spite of the challenges you might encounter along the course. You will be surprised what you can learn along the journey. Also, to occasionally stop to hear the “noiselessness” of nature and enjoy the smell of the “Fynbos”.
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