Back with a parkrun! New Farm, Australia.

Back with a parkrun!
East Brisbane, Australia

East Brisbane, Australia

New Farm parkrun route, by the Brisbane River
New Farm parkrun route. start and finish at the bottom of the map.

To say I had been looking forward to my next parkrun, especially as it was to be in Australia, would be a huge understatement. They start early here, 7am on this side of the country to avoid the heat of summer, which suited my state of sleepless excitement just fine. I was further psyched because having just picked up a ticket to see Brisbane Roar – current A-league leaders, as luck would have it – I checked for tickets to the Adelaide test. I’d been thinking that flying all the way there just to see Muse and then the test on tv might feel a bit decadent, but with the ground under reconstruction there were fewer tickets available. Hospitality packages were many hundreds, but having considered them I felt a bit easier about paying viagogo or a tout over the odds. But I looked, and there were tickets from the official reseller, and I booked for days 1 and 4.

Yesterday I explored Brisbane, with a run at midday along the river heading West, just the other side from the CBD (****** business district, I think that stands for). There is a path along the ‘serpentine’ Brisbane river – in places. For much of it I had to run along roads, but seeing as I am in a new country I was quite happy to look at the houses. East Brisbane seems fairly prosperous, judging by the state of them. In the afternoon I got out my ‘go’ (transport) card and headed for the city cat (river bus) to head into town. Once at Mowbray Park – site of one of the public swimming baths formed by adding walls along the riverside in the interwar years, fact fans – I checked my pockets; no card. Checking my bag, I found my touch n go card there and settled back to wait for the boat.

As it arrived I checked my card. Touch n go is the card for Kuala Lumpur. For fu..! A wander home and back later, I was ready to go. It doesn’t take long to get to riverside stop, even though the stops west of Mowbray are the busy or scenic ones, where the Cat slows right down between stops, gunning it to head East. I needed some guide books, surely cheaper here than in Asia, after sun – chest badly burned under the tree in Bali – and socks – a reviewer had mentioned underwear going missing in laundry, but I thought boy things would be safe. It’s probably me, given that one pair were my running compression socks which I don’t think I even wore there. And I have the newer pants.

Favour done. Quick list of the lost: towel; Helsinki ferry, headphones; Moscow, running shorts; Korea probably, spare headphones; flight to Bali, underwear; Bali.

Crikey, Australia is expensive. Strangely not for apple stuff, again – with the 9% tax they return on the way out of the country, it’s slightly cheaper than Japan, even. But bottle of coke – $3.50! Lonely planet australia – $48! After much deliberation I decided the DK guide had all the important content in a smaller book, with the extra pages of Lonely Planet taken up by endless lists of where to eat and stay, which I can work out myself. It doesn’t feel like a ‘traveller’ book, but I can carry it without irritation, which is a bonus. Cost offset by dept store Myer having a ‘second 60% off’ so I could pick up the New Zealand book cheaply. After a smoothie and a walk through Anzac Square – war memorials for different wars in each corner, apparently Australian cities all have their Anzac Squares – I headed home, back before 8.

Trees and grass
New Farm park.

Saturday morning arrived, to my great excitement. I jogged to the ferry, needed because New Farm is very close but on the other side of the river. Crossings are covered mostly by the 19 Cats and 6 ferries, rather than bridges. I was early, but the dour Scotsman waiting had obviously done this before so I stayed (outwardly) calm as the pilot came along 10 minutes later. He wasn’t sure of the time of the first ferry but took us at 6.20 anyway (6.15 the first, but we could have waited). It was too soon into the boat’s boot up sequence for the go card to work, so he said to do it on the way back. His mistake – I didn’t, I ran the four miles via the whacking bridge across from the CBD.

The run starts in a park but is an out-and-back along the riverside. The run director was a Scot, with backup from her husband, and after the minor embarrassment of ‘where are you from?’ and a brief pause while she processed where the hell Banstead Woods was and then announced “and you’re wearing your 100 tee!” we were off. There’s a short section going the wrong way, u-turn onto a path and then go. Some other pinch points early on mean that some people get far too worried about getting a quick start, including warm-up organiser Chris, though in fairness he was probably at pb pace, just not able to keep it going. One dude came alongside at 1k, I’d heard him announcing ‘2.34’ as a time check behind me, and he gave me a “well done on getting your 100, eh?” in reply to my well done, but as we chatted briefly I figured he’d well overcooked it. I wasn’t sure if I was going quite fast enough to get my ‘happy enough’ target of sub 19 but the first mile was 5.48; his usual time was around 20. He gave a time check for 4.42, and slipped back.

My splits slowed and I was passed by a better-paced Korean, but held off the others I’d passed and eventually reeled in warmup Chris (love to know what his first mile was) for a 5th-placed finish in 18.34. Kind of happy, but I was in better shape in Korea and can’t account for where it has gone. It may just be that it was cooler there – the weather in Brisbane is ‘funny’ at the moment, junked for Saturday morning but otherwise sometimes cool and with some mad thunderstorms. The run was all very parkrun; just lovely. Checking the list of those on for Christmas and new year, so far I am out of luck in Melbourne. Other major cities all have one, it seems, so I’ll just have to cross my fingers. Or fly to Cairns.

Results from New Farm parkrun event 114, 16/11/13.

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