From Penguin, North coast of Tasmania, where I stayed last night, to Railton. It’s a trip of about 42 minutes – which in Tasmania, means it will take you 42 minutes, maybe a little less. After two weeks driving here, I’m still not used to the idea that I pull up at an intersection and find no traffic coming.
I was still there plenty early, though, unable to shake the ‘just in case’ margin for error I was leaving, though I’ve probably started shaving it such that it won’t be enough if/when I travel distances to parkrun back in the UK.
The course isn’t a pure out and back. It’s more complicated to describe than run. But still – start at the green dot, run all the way to the bottom. Turn around, come back up, turn left and do the loop clockwise, twice. Second time you come out, go back to the bottom, turn around and go all the way back to the beginning.
The turn’s tight and the gap small, and needs the marshal who is stood there, and there’s one clearing in the reserve which also benefitted from having a marshal there, but otherwise it’s well signed. Though one or two of them aren’t visible till you get there, and I could tell, as I gained on the bloke ahead, that he hadn’t run it before as he reacted to a left-arrow.
Turned out he’d receed the course, too. He had his whole family with him, and perhaps they were staying nearby. I suspect he, like me, had spotted the relatively slow times and low numbers – the volunteers reckon this one will remain primarily a run for tourists, even if mostly those from within Tasmania – and wondered if he might get a first finish. Sadly for him, I was ahead of him last week at Launceston, and repeated the trick again today. He’ll be glad when I don’t show up wherever he is next Saturday, though knowing his luck, he’s headed for Melbourne for Christmas.
That hadn’t felt so likely at the beginning, as I chatted with volunteers (also tourists) and didn’t warm up. As I set off, though passing optimistic youngsters, I was concentrating on the stony ground underfoot, and not worrying about the people ahead of me.
They weren’t getting away, though, and I got into my running and set about tracking them down as we ran through the woods, on the Tasmanian trail.
This was a parkrun to mark for all sorts of reasons. My last full day in Tasmania, and so, for now, my last parkrun in Tasmania – I’ve done 3 of the 6, but they’re planning to open up at least another 5 in the new year, so nothing significant about my numbers there. But today was my 10th parkrun anniversary, having started at Banstead Woods on 22/12/2017. It was also as near as I could get to my own (birth) anniversary, which was the day before. And as a result of that, I was running in a new age category, 45-49 (holy cow).
All of which made me extra pleased when I realised that the front two, then one, were coming back to me and that I was going to pass the shuffly-styled runner in front of me on the loop (though according to Strava, he ran that loop quicker than anyone else ever has) and take 1st place. It was probably the best chance I had of finishing first in Australia, so even though position is hardly the point of parkrun, I’m super pleased. When I finished first for the first time (Swindon, on a rainy day – slowest first finisher time ever, then) I reasoned that for ever more, my best position on my parkrun history would appear as first, and now the same is true of my Australia parkrun history.
I sat in the cafe afterwards – across the (massive, but quiet) main road through town, diagonally across from the barcode scanning point – talking to the event director and her husband (Leanne and Leigh Evans), who are Launceston regulars, parkrun tourists and all round good eggs. They introduced me to the Peel club, which they are members of, having run a parkrun in every Australian state. With vague plans to head to Canberra (incorporating a Saturday) on my way back from Sydney in January, I think I only need visit the Northern Territories to join them, so they may unwittingly (in the sense that they will not have realised how close I am) have made that a ‘thing’ for me, too. Watch this space (but be patient, obviously).