My parkrun tour as minor celebrity continued with Australia’s biggest, at least by regular attendance – Southbank managed some magic to get 944 once, but Newy is regularly over 400. My 100 shirt drew attention again, as they’ve only had just over 80 events so no one can have completed 100 here despite how keen people are in ‘the region of runners’. I was introduced to parkrun Au host Dave Robbo and he made sure to introduce me, topping the Kiwi tourist from Christchurch by giving some stats. Two of the Naked Runners came up to shake my hand, which was wonderful. “Legend” I may not be, but I appreciated the thought.
It’s much hotter, and more humid, here, and it was warm at 8 for the start. It cooled afterwards with some light drizzle; add the wind that blew from behind on the way out and we had weather, for sure. The course is an out and back, shaped like a shepherd’s crook. As it takes you round a cove, we ran into the opposite bank we had wind in our faces, as we had on the final approach to a wide swooping curve to the start/finish. Robbo is a quick runner, so having his daughter in a buggy only puts him down to about my current pace. When baby Grace appeared on my shoulder at 2k I managed to push on, but I could hear Robbo putting in an effort once we were off a short sandy section, which pushed me into my fastest time since Adelaide.
At the end I was asked to present the ceremonial (that is, not kept by the recipient, who has to wait for the real one) 50 shirt to a girl from Wooters runners who had completed her 50th that day. “The first 50 shirt presented by someone from Surrey who has done 185 parkruns”, so we set a marker there. Robbo got a quick word for the parkrun show afterwards – using the information that I’d been on before not to abort it but to refer to me as a show regular. The Naked Runners and Wooters have big presences at the event, and I went to breakfast with the latter, jogging with a couple of girls while Yorkshire Nick stopped to chat and then had to hustle at near 5k pace to catch us. A really lovely morning, surrounded by welcoming people and lively, interested, running-keen 20-somethings afterwards.
Results from Newy parkrun, event 84, 4/1/14.
I finally got back and showered by 11 and decided that yes, I should get on the bus and head to the Blackbutt reserve, a haven of wildlife and at which you can pay $5 to pet the koalas at 2pm, when the rangers feed the animals. On the way I was listening to old Au parkrun shows, hoping to catch the interview with Pegs, and was just in time to hear the chat they had when parkrun was started at Blackbutt. For a few weeks people were “all about The Butt” and “loving The Butt”. Despite waiting at the wrong stop, I got there just in time for the petting etc., but opted to walk round the boardwalk instead. It was almost deserted, because most people were waiting for their petting turn. I don’t think they start with the koalas, as koala Bob and baby Joey were right there but not surrounded by people. They weren’t asleep, though, so they perhaps knew food time was coming. Brilliantly, after a while Joey hopped off one tree and followed Bob’s wandering, then had a hand up the tree, which was pretty cute. Plus it was a multicoloured bird show all around.
Beyond that central large cage are lots of other animals, a python, wombat, and lace monitor lizard my highlights. Outside there are emus and kangaroos, too, before I took a walk in the rainforest. It is a cacophony of noise in there, which you can’t miss as soon as you escape the road noise. I walked happily through, with ups and downs everywhere. It must be one tough parkrun. There was almost nobody around once away from the main animal and picnic site – there’s a second big site 500m away, and no one there bar two gardeners. That allows the wildlife free rein, and I had a short heart-stopping moment as I looked more closely at the path and spotted a snake lying across it. It slithered off. I think it was probably harmless. But that isn’t the story I’ll tell.
Reading: Conan Doyle, The Poison Belt; Evanovich, Hot Six.