Minnippi parkrun

Minnippi parkrun
Tingalpa, Australia

Tingalpa, Australia

Minnippi parkrun route
Minnippi parkrun route. Start and finish at the bottom, clockwise round the lake.

“Do you have anything like this in the UK?”

This was my chance to run an inaugural – but in Australia. I’d spotted this one was due to start but as I clicked around different runs and checked the transport timetables, had ruled it out as unreachable  -trains and buses may start before 6, but with a 7am start, you have to be on it early. Joining Intraining, though changed that, and Steve had offered me a lift after the first session I had there, nearly two weeks before the run.

Thumbs up from me and Glenn Miller, wet, post-run
Me, with Glenn Miller (band unavailable). 

At Thursday’s run we’d made our arrangement, with them picking me up at 6 near the house. I worried they were making that a little tight on time for my sake, but we were there by 6.15. I realised then that I had miscalculated; I’d been looking at the Bunyaville run when working out transport, and this was quite reachable. Much nicer to get a lift, though, and I felt part of the gang, with South Bank on Tour for the second week in a row.

When Brisbane days, even in spring, are hot, they start warm early; by 7 it looks like a glorious British summer. After a hot Friday, though, rain had set in overnight, eased at 5.30 as I got up but then thrown it down from 6.30 onwards. The gazebo was popular, and it felt strange to be wet and cold after Friday’s heat. I met Michael, who tops Australia’s most events table (with 24, pah), who was a recognisable type, planning way ahead for future runs. I’d wondered if in those 24 he had covered more kilometres than me, but I think he has mostly been in Queensland and has driven to every one, rather than criss crossing the country by plane. Tourism with limits; not quite the Australian Paul Freyne, who surely would have clocked up air miles to Western Australia by now. Level with him is Brent, who I met next; he offered Michael the chance to get ahead in 2015. Different country, same conversations.

Runners and volunteers gathered under a gazebo and umbrellas as the rain falls
Raining and raining. I’m talking to big Aussie tourist, Michael Schultz (Shultzy).

The route itself follows a path for 1km, then has two laps of a lake and back to the start. Popular parlance seems to refer to that style as a lollipop, but the original path is quite twisty, so I think it was more of a balloon and string. After 45 minutes dodging the rain we had to emerge for a briefing; despite taking in ‘a word’ from 4 different people, it was pretty quick, and it helped that the rain had settled for ‘dropping’ as a contrast to the ‘hoying’ it had gone for at 6.30.

We ran. The runs here seem to set off particularly quickly, so this time I let people go. With a broad start but everyone aiming for the path, there’s a squish at the beginning, and I let a lot of people go ahead before working on my position. Up ahead were Tim Oberg, country manager, so I took the chance to show off my 100 shirt by edging past, and Moray, event director from South Bank the week before, and I targeted him. Got to beat a Scot, after all. With those scalps taken, I worked to join the third, biggest, group near the front, tagging on with another runner to head round the lake. Running with others really helps, and my splits were the most even I’ve had in Australia, if still not quite at my best, with 6.01, 6 and 6.02 for an 18.30 overall.

Great run, great inaugural and I had time to talk to some other finishers, be interviewed for the Aussie parkrun show and was back home for a snooze before 9 (11 on Friday night back home – it’s still odd to think that I’ve finished mine before people back home have even gone to bed ahead of theirs). The question at the top came from local dignitary Glenn – not the mayor, but a man who gets things done, and friends think he ought to be in a position of responsibility. He had heard about parkrun in a local meeting they’d put on, and loved the concept already, even though this was his first run. Yes Glenn, we do have something almost exactly like this in the UK. Perfect parkrun, that’s 3 Australian ones completed.

Results from Minnippi parkrun event 1, 30/11/13.

Watching Perth Glory, as spectators sing.
“Daddy? Why are Perth Glory full of shit?” Youngsters watching the hardcore supporters end

Macleay Island

Macleay Island
Macleay Island, Australia

Macleay Island, Australia

If you’re going to Brisbane, pick up a Go card. $10 deposit; refundable if you can find the times to sort that out, but if not it is still likely to be worth it. It lets you travel on the buses, trains and ferries, for a 30% discount. Or more – get this, if you make 9 different journeys in a week (more than an hour in between), any others are free. That’s good if you’re a 5 day commuter – pay for 9, the last is free as is the whole weekend. If you’re travelling, it’s superb; I could have travelled all the way out to Cleveland on the train, bus to Redland bay, then ferry out and back to the islands, all for free.

Tall tree with twisting branches
Macleay Tree.

I say “could have” because I didn’t realise the ferry was part of the deal and bought a ticket for the outgoing trip. Never mind, consider it an investment, and it was still a bargain. As I arrived at Cleveland, I realised I didn’t know where to go, though there was a sign to a free ferry shuttle. I wandered round and decided that Redland Bay sounded familiar and I might as well get on that bus. I was reassured by the girl ahead getting advice and being shown onto the same bus with her backpack – well, she must be headed to the islands, then.

I was right! A longish bus ride and we were at the ferry port. Not the one I’d researched, a private company that runs the car ferry; instead the council runs a passenger ferry, essentially a bus service.

It was a hot day, and though there were signs to the ‘heritage route’, running clockwise round the edge of the island, I wasn’t inspired. I stopped for provisions and figured I could find a beach, but the route took me inland first. I found a bay to eat at eventually, and by then had seen the houses, wetlands and quieter pace of island life and was sated. It is thriving – 2000 inhabitants, and growing, though there were some less-loved houses for sale, with roadworks and construction in places. If I’d taken a bike I could have explored more, but those at the house were locked up and I’d missed Ricky so hadn’t asked him for the code.

Little bay, beached boats.
Little bay, beached boats.

I’d walked a fair way, at least, so headed back to the city, just using the bus this time. Nearer the centre I suddenly realised we were in a tunnel just for buses, and then onto a road that was the same. Several miles of busway, in fact, with a couple of tunnels – very cool. It’s quite new, but must make a real difference to transport, as otherwise the serpentine river makes getting from one spot to another more than a bit fiddly. Brisbane has grown so much in the last 30 or so years that traffic has become a problem in the centre, though the motorway comes right up close so I suspect it’s a case of temporary queues rather than total gridlock.

Brian, from the cricket, had recommended the Breakfast Creek hotel as the oldest pub in the city. It’s a way out of the centre (just in front of Allan Border field. Or behind it if you’re looking from the other side. There was a cricketer of that name, but I reckon the field marks the edge of Allan’s territory from days of yore), but I decided to walk from the wrong side of the river, thereby seeing more of the city, including Chinatown. Strangely, I was more motivated by this walk than I had been on the island.

I put it down to the sense of purpose rather than the promise of beer. Check out the bars on their website. It is a sprawl of bars that I found bewildering. The public bar is harshly lit and felt a bit like a bookmakers, with TV coverage all round, betting odds on screens and betting slips on the tables. That was where I was most at home, though, as outside was a confusing morass of people, some in private functions and the others in groups that I didn’t feel a solo traveller could wander up to. The private bar is the most ‘English’, being wooden and more clubbable, but there was more space in the public bar. The XXXX bitter was okay, but nothing special.

Walking to the riverboat was a pleasure. With the day hot, the evening was beautiful, mid 20s, stats twinkling in the sky. They don’t seem to overdo the street lights, so some streets are quite dark, but that means less light pollution. As I got to the terminal, a boat came past with Last Christmas clearly audible for kilometres around. The first of many culture shock-  it’s Christmas, and it’s warm? – moments.

The day before had been my day off travel, so I’d seen the early showing of About Time at cheapy cinema. Another weepy statement of the bleedin obvious by Richard Curtis (“maybe try to enjoy every day, eh?”), though that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. There was too much London porn (ooh, that’s such and such street! As if seeing it on screen validates the location), which normally irritates but was pleasantly nostalgic. I felt homesick for the whole period from the film ending to getting out into the sun. I took the boat into town, had a smoothie in the sun and ran a 3x3k session with Intraining in the evening. Pretty good.

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