My resolve to run for fun was sorely tested at Cottesloe parkrun. It was tested, it wobbled, but – I’m pleased to report – came out on top.
A Saturday run at beautiful Cottesloe Beach, Western Australia.
Cottesloe is all things beach
- Funky Art Deco pub complete with veranda overlooking the beach? Check
- Cycling and Walking track winding their way around the coast? Check
- Warm weather all year? Check
- Ice-cream parlours, palm trees, bbqs, waves, sand…? All things Beach? Check
Twelve months ago there was only one parkrun in the Perth region in travelling distance for us, now there are six! parkrun just grows and grows. We chose Cottesloe because it is just such a beautiful spot. And coming from the cusp of the Tasmanian winter why wouldn’t we want to take in some beautiful Western Australian warmth and sea air? It was a balmy 12ºC at 8am but we heard reports that the temperature at the start of our home parkrun was -3ºC – brrrr, that’s below freezing!
I was curious to discover that the Saturday we were able to run was going to be just the fifth running of Cottesloe parkrun – it’s a brand new event. After a bit of a look at the times that had been done I got a little excited. Me, the Unsporty Woman might be able to come at the top of her category. Wow!
The course looked challenging. Really flat along the beach walking/cycling track – no worries, that looks wonderful. But there is a really big BUT! The track takes in 900m of the beach itself. Soft sand to run on? Oh dear.
Cottesloe was another example of just what makes parkrun so wonderful. It’s friendly, it’s welcoming, it’s challenging but it’s about participation and having a go.
After the course briefing, off we went. With just under 30 runners it was a much much much smaller parkrun than what we’re used to (Launceston parkrun usually gets around the 200 mark). I decided to go out a little harder to make up for the slow run that would come on the sand. At the 2.2km mark down we went onto the sand. Ugh. Soft slow sand. Plodding, putting effort in but the pace got so slow! Out to the flag and I had to stop for a photo, then back the way we’d come. When I got off the sand my legs were jelly! Is this what doing a triathlon might be like? I thought. Perhaps just the tiniest of tiny tastes, but enough for me to know that triathlons aren’t for me AND enough of a taste to have even more respect for those who put themselves out there and do these multisport events. You are all stars!
My legs recover and off I go along the path. Pauly is right behind me. He had a bit of a churned up stomach and decided to plod with me. We pick up the pace and before we know it we are back to the start.
9th! I came 9th!!!!! This is one of those once in a lifetime parkrun moments – so I enjoyed looking at the small number on the finishing token (usually I’m around the 80 to 100 mark). I did mention that the field of runners was small? Under 30 runners. I’m sure it will build up. The sand is challenging yes, but the place is just so beautiful.
I awaited to see the results. Nothing Saturday afternoon. Nothing Sunday morning. Finally late Sunday the results were published and the emails sent to each participant.
How parkrun works
It’s free to register for parkrun, all you need to do is go on the website, find your local parkrun and sign up. You’ll recive an email and with it is a link to print out your barcode (you only have to do this once, and then you can run anywhere in the world where there is a parkrun – for free! Take your barcode with you each time). At the finish your personal barcode is scanned and then your finishing token. You give your finishing token back. Usually sometime Saturday afternoon you will receive an email with your time and where you came overall and in your category. If there isn’t a parkrun near you all it takes is a group of locals to make one happen. Check out www.parkrun.com and click on your country. Simple.
I was 9th overall, 3rd woman overall and first in my category AND the fastest woman aged 50-54 that had ever run Cottesloe parkrun. I was flabbergasted (results for event number 5). But there comes a but. But the stopwatch had malfunctioned. No times were recorded only places. Everyone who ran that day was given a time of 59:59. I wasn’t on the top of my category. I was on the bottom! I’ve ran over 50 parkruns, get the Australian newsletter every week and have only heard of this happening once before.
My shoulders slumped, my face went from happy to sad. But (lots of buts in this post) I thought about why I love to run and why I go to parkrun. I thought about the volunteer who had been working the stopwatch and that they might be feeling terrible (I would if it had been me). I thought about the wonderful team of Cottesloe parkrun volunteers who had welcomed Pauly and I so warmly. I smiled. It was a wonderful run. Who cares about the time? Not me. AND I can always go and have another go next time I’m visiting Brown-eyed daughter #1. Sounds like a winning thing to me!
There are so many reasons why we put on our running shoes and run. Some to look for the calm that only a run can give. Some to run faster and faster. Some for the social side of running. Some for fun. AND just sometimes for all of these things rolled into one. It doesn’t matter what the reason, running is there, we just need to put on our running shoes and do it!
Yes, this Unsporty Woman runs for fun. Yes I do. Unashamedly happy just to run and be a back of packer. It’s participating and getting there that makes me happy. I’ll only ever be top of my age category if all the fast ladies stay home or run at other parkruns like they did the Saturday I ran Cottesloe parkrun.
Thank you Cottesloe parkrun for the most beautiful run and a wonderful reminder and test of my personal running ethos.
Happy running 🙂