New Year’s Day is parkrun double day – Coburg and Darebin, Melbourne

Coburg parkrun route
Coburg parkrun. An out and back (with hills).

New Year’s day is the only day (now) that we’re allowed to run two parkruns in one day (barring the odd anomaly). There are plenty of doubles in the UK and Australia, and my main task at the beginning of December was working out where these unfamiliar-sounding places were. Australians probably have the same problem – if you live in Western Australia, you’re miles and miles from Melbourne, so might think that Coburg is somewhere near you. I wasn’t even sure where I’d be – when I was here last, Newcastle, NSW, was the nearest place for a double, and I was in Victoria, so this time I wanted to make sure to be near one, but that still involved picking one. At any rate, the tool Rikki Prince has published was very helpful. I decided on Coburg and somewhere after I’d booked my accommodation in Coburg for Christmas Eve, so then saved Coburg for NYD, ending up running a bit further, to Studley, for Christmas Day. Luckily, I could stay in the same place on NYE, so that left a walk to Coburg in the morning.

Pentridge prison
Pentridge prison, on the way. Now being redeveloped.
Coburg parkrun pre-run briefing
Coburg parkrun pre-run briefing; leafy.

The run is renowned for its hills, and didn’t disappoint. Otherwise it’s a twisty, testing out and back, on a good surface. I didn’t push too hard, but got more into the groove towards the end, and thoroughly enjoyed a run in warm air.

Plenty of people were up for a double, some heading down to Maribyrnong, some across to Darebin. I headed straight off to Darebin, trusting google maps to get me there. Which they did, via some nice cut throughs turning it into a diagonal 4 miles rather than a longer straight one. The excellent Dave, who I’d met and chatted to at Studley, asked a couple of times whether I’d taken Murray Road. No idea, just whatever google told me to do (yes, at the start of my route, then those cut throughs came into play for a runner – not for him, on the bike).

Darebin parkrun route
Darebin parkrun. An out and back (with undulations). Murray Road also shown.

I was at Darebin by 9, ready for a 9.30 start. By now the sun was out and it was getting warmer, albeit with a cooler breeze to give some relief. Where Coburg had set a record attendance, with 223, Darebin had their second-highest ever, with 202, so there were plenty of people listening to the briefing, but not so many that we couldn’t find space to run in. Darebin is a similar course, an out and back with some lumps, though it’s a little easier than Coburg. It’s on an even better, if hard, surface, if anything. I ran harder, fairly happy with the fact that I could still push despite tired legs, but all that was put into perspective as I was passed by a man in jeans, cruising.

Man in jeans, running
Jeans! And he went away from me easily.

Still, I ran my own run, and it was good. Couldn’t catch the man with a buggy ahead of me, but finished higher up and happy to now be on the Australian most events table, with 21 different runs done. Someone had called out at the beginning that parkrun royalty was in attendance, in Neil Barnett, who has completed 57 more than the closest chaser, with 205. It would have been rude to say ‘um, actually…’ so I didn’t mention it. I hoped to catch him for a chat/to flash my credentials at the end, but was busy talking to Dave about Murray road.

After we’d stood around chatting for a while, my legs were stiff for the jog back, and this the longest. Still, I ended on a high. Walking across a wobbly bridge near the end, who should be at the other end, but Dave? He laughed, and we were both a bit confused as to how I had got there before him, given he was cycling.

Something to do with Murray Road, we decided.

Darebin parkrun
Darebin parkrun. 1st couple: 1st male, second from left. 1st lady, next to her son.
Darebin parkrun finish
Darebin parkrun finish.

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