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Killin’ It At Kirra

On Saturday we launched Kirra parkrun, our second event on the Gold Coast and fifth in Australia, under the Event Directorship of Chris van Hoof from Chisel Fitness. I had my suspicions prior to launch that this scenic and flat course would be ideal for setting a personal best time over the 5km distance and sure enough that is what came to fruition. My results email read as follows:

“Kirra results for event #1. Your time was 18:29. Congratulations on completing your 17th parkrun and your 1st at Kirra today. You finished in 3rd place and were the 3rd gent out of a field of 82 parkrunners and you came 1st in your age category SM30-34. ”

Wow, even I was shocked when this time came through! So where to from here?

In full stride.

All done.

Dougie Arms

Last Thursday when running through the Tally Valley with a chap called Doug he showed me how when going downhill he lengthens his arm swing so that his wrists are quite low to the ground, thus lowering his centre of gravity. I gave it a go heading down Ducats Road and sure enough it felt like I was sticking to the road much better and able to go faster. Thus today when going down Trees Road with Whitney Valentine I showed her this technique and we powered on down the 22 degree slope only slowing down from fits of laughter as we yelled ‘Dougie Arms, Dougie Arms!” I’m hoping to do well at the Tomewin Mountain Challenge on 26 August so expect to see the Dougie Arms technique in full force that day!

Tally Valley


Gold Coast Gargoyles

Whitney trying to push over Bomber's letterbox

Dougie and his magical arms

Karen powering home... looks like Bomber came last today!

Two Seconds…

It has been well documented in this blog that my 5km parkrun personal best time has improved significantly in recent months to the point where I have been starting to think it might be possible for me to run sub-19 minutes. If anyone had told me 6 months ago that this could have been on the cards I would have laughed, but it just goes to show the power of consistent, high quality training. As such, I lined up at New Farm parkrun at 7am this morning with my friends Penny and Rob ready to have a good crack at a new PB and possibly, my first ever sub-19 run.

New Farm parkrun has grown exponentially in recent months due to a combination of new years resolutions and hard work by Gareth Saunders and his dedicated team of volunteers. Last week the event set a new Australian attendance record of 212 people, including 73 first time parkrunners. It was clear to all present this morning that the record was going to be under threat again today as swarms of excited runners lined up at the start line.

Gareth set us off with the customary yelp of “Ready, Go” and immediately a cracking pace was set by the leading group of ten or so runners. I tucked in behind this pack and quickly established a swift and steady rhythm. The New Farm parkrun course is wide and flat, ideal for setting a PB, but without my trustee Garmin GPS watch on I wasn’t sure just how fast I was going. My plan was to simply stick with the front pack and hope for the best. I felt strong and as I crossed the finish line knew that I was going to come close to achieving my goal.

My results email arrived just after 1pm:

New Farm results for event #22. Your time was 19:01. You finished in 10th place and were the 8th gent out of a field of 224 parkrunners and you came 1st in your age category SM30-34.

19:01!!! Only two seconds off sub-19! Oh well, gives me even more motivation to achieve it next time. On a positive note, congrats to Gareth and the team for hosting yet another Australian attendance record of 224.

Next week, Kirra…

At the start line, ready to go...

With Penny & Rob

Almost done

Done... two seconds too slow!



One of the essential elements of parkrun that beginners find so appealing is that you don’t actually have to run the 5km. You can jog, walk or even skip. As such I decided to walk rather than run at Main Beach parkrun this morning with my wife Nicci and dog Clarence (Nicci is 16 weeks pregnant and finds walking to be much less stressful on her body). So instead of completing the course in my usual sub-20 minutes we strolled across the finish line in a leisurely 49:54! This provided a great opportunity to really survey the wonderful landscape and encourage (and take photos of) many enthusiastic parkrunners passing by. It was lovely, but I think next week I will go back to running!

Dizzy @ Pizzey

A couple of weeks ago it was suggested that we move our Tuesday morning session from the hard paths of Broadbeach to the 400m grass track at Pizzey Park to avoid the high impact and potential injury risk that can arise from sustained concrete running. According to Runners World, grass is the number 1 surface to train on whilst concrete is way down at number 9:

1. Grass
At its best, the grassland of parks, golf courses and football pitches provides the purest, most natural surface for running. Areas where sheep graze are often home to fine, close-cropped turf, too.
Pros: While grass is soft and easy on the legs in terms of impact, it actually makes your muscles work hard. This builds strength and means you’ll notice the difference when you return to the road. When it’s flat, it provides an excellent speedwork surface (spikes may be necessary in wetter conditions) and, unlike a track, can give you space to run whole repetitions without having to make tight turns.
Cons: Most grassland is uneven and can be dangerous for runners with unstable ankles. It can also be slippery when wet, runners with allergies may suffer more symptoms when running on it, and its softness can tire legs surprisingly quickly. Finally, of course, while the very best grass for running is often found on bowling greens and golf courses, the owners are not always happy to discover runners on their hallowed turf.
Conclusion: If you can find a flat, even stretch of it, grass is the best training surface for most runners, especially as you get older.
Rating: 9.5 / 10

9. Concrete
Concrete is primarily made up of cement (crushed rock), and it’s what most pavements and five per cent of roads are constructed from. It delivers the most shock of any surface to a runner’s legs.
Pros: Concrete surfaces tend to be easily accessible and very flat, and if you stick to pavements, you can avoid traffic. 
Cons: The combination of a hard surface (reckoned to be 10 times as hard as asphalt), kerbs, and the need to sidestep pedestrians, can lead to injury. 
Conclusion: City dwellers probably have little choice but to do a large proportion of their running on concrete. If you get the slightest opportunity, though, look for softer surfaces.
Rating: 2.5 / 10

After a couple of false starts due to the horrible weather we have experienced on the Gold Coast recently we finally got our acts together this morning and had a ripper of a speed session. Under the watchful eye of Caine ‘The Train’ Warburton, we banged out 10 x 400m at pace with 30 seconds rest between sets. Our pace was calculated from our 5km PB minus 15 seconds, so my goal 400m time for each rep, along with Dee Jackson, was 1:31 whilst Steve Gamble did 1:25 and Caine and James Webster did around 1:15. The key for the session was consistency, not going out too hard too early, and thus being able to bring the last rep home at the same pace as the first, which we all did pretty well.

I can see this session developing into a seriously high quality affair in the coming weeks and months.

Steve 'The Gambler' Gamble

James 'Please Marry My Boy' Webster and The Caine Train

Dee Jackson

6am = Job Done!

Save A Life By Blogging

Several weeks ago I was contacted by Melanie Bowen, a part-time blog contributor on the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance website. Her letter read –

“I am contacting you today after coming across and reading the great content on your blog— to log and catalog desires, wishes, and things you plan to accomplish is by far the most important aspect to actually undertaking goals! Most people do not put their thoughts on paper—consequently leaving them without tangible reminders and constant ambition. I’m sure you can imagine how important this idea could be for those going through health struggles regardless of what they may be. An individual going through treatment, in remission, and even the family members of those with chronic or terminal illnesses face everyday challenges of maintaining a quality of life—self-motivation and inspiration is the key!

I’ve recently been invited to be a contributor on the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance blog and have the ability to reach a wider audience. Awareness is an important factor when it comes to health and healing, so please let me know if you would be interested in allowing me to contribute a small guest post on your blog or if you would consider putting a link to my MCA blog on your site as a resource for your readers. I am eager to share your resources from my Twitter and Facebook following in order to give your site more traffic to further build up this concept of encouragement. So, if there are other ideas you have about ways we could work together, I’d love to hear them and I hope you are interested.

 Thank you for all you do in making a difference,The article I have attached encompasses the idea and importance of inspiration and self-motivation. Every illness has its limitations, but I firmly believe that goals and positivity go hand in hand on an individual’s path to healing and quality of life. I have linked to reputable courses and studies in this field and have tailored the article to encompass those ideas.”

I was very touched to receive Melanie’s email and of course agreed to share her article. Have a read for yourself and feel free to provide me with any thoughts and feedback you might have…

Save A Life By Blogging

Being diagnosed with a disease such as mesothelioma, breastcancer or diabetes is not something that is easy to deal with. With that being known, throughout any stated prognosis, being diagnosed with a chronic or terminal is enough to knock the wind out of your sails.

Many patients are faced with two choices; you can accept your diagnosis and start fighting for your life or you can give up. The choice is obvious; fight. Everyone deserves to live a full, happy life. Most survivors of tough illnesses will tell you that their diagnosis ended up being one of the best things that ever happened to them by being one of the most difficult things they have had to deal with. Yes, that’s right. Their desire to live and their ability to fight taught them that they are stronger than they thought and that they have the ability to overcome anything in their lives.

Quality of life is consequently a significant factor to those dealing with health obstacles, lets be sure we all are on the path to healing. One of the best ways to motivate yourself to survive your illness is through blogging and setting goals. Blogging is a way to document your feelings; your emotions will change drastically from day to day, even from second to second. The ability to write down your feelings and share them through a blog is something that will inspire other patients as they fight for health. By sharing your story you not only inspire yourself to make changes or reward your achievements, but you also can tap into other individuals that may be going through the same things and vise-versa.

That’s right; your simple blog could be the catalyst that helps another patient decide to keep fighting and in which ways. Reading about your diagnosis and treatment and seeing your goals written down will help others in their fight. And goals are a must. If you don’t, you won’t have any tangible motivation–a thought can only travel so far and thoughts can easily be forgotten or pushed to the side.

Your goals can be as small as going on a cruise once you are cancer free, finish reading that book you never got to finish, dance at your daughter’s wedding with your friends and family or even start that nutritional diet that would help with you treatments. Whatever keeps you going and makes you look forward to life the most is what you should blog as your goals.

Seeing your story, reading about your failures and successes and your triumphs and tribulations could change someones life and can inspire the direction you take in your own. Seeing that other people are going through the same thing and that they are managing to survive is sometimes exactly what others need to make the choice to fight cancer themselves. So save a life; start a blog.

St Peters parkrun, Sydney

As I write this I’m sitting on Virgin Australia flight DJ535 from Sydney to the Gold Coast a very happy little camper. Why? Yesterday we successfully launched St Peters parkrun, our fourth event in Australia and our first in Sydney. This is a real milestone for parkrun ‘down under’ and I am delighted with how smoothly it all went.

Sydney is the most populous city in Australia with an approximate population of 4.6 million people. As the site of the first British settlement in 1788 it is the historic capital, and today it is also Australia’s commercial and economic hub. As such Sydney needs a great parkrun, and we need Sydney to be considered a truly national organisation!

Yesterday’s launch had been a long time in the planning. I was first contacted by Event Director Paul Wilcock in April last year so, just like having a baby, it has taken 9 months from conception to birth. Initially we were planning the first Sydney event for Centennial Park however at Paul’s suggestion we decided upon Sydney Park located in the inner-west suburb of St Peters, sitting along the borders of Alexandria, Newtown and Erskineville. Formerly a brick works and a municipal waste tip, Sydney Park is 109 acres in area, which makes it the third largest park in inner-city Sydney and perfect for a 5km parkrun.

Ably assisted by Aaron Pidgeon, the former remedial massage therapist at Main Beach parkrun, Paul has been leading keen punters in Sydney Park for the last few months for ‘unofficial’ parkruns as a way of building momentum and gathering support from the local running community. Paul and Aaron did a fine job of this as the event had 137 registrations prior to the launch, not to mention well over 200 ‘likes’ on the ‘Sydney parkrun‘ Facebook page.

On launch morning itself the overcast weather threatened rain but ended up holding beautifully enabling the 64 runners who attended a perfect first St Peters parkrun event. Congratulations to Sato Ashida who came in first in 17:12 and is, for one week at least, the course record holder! I came in 7th place in 19:47, a pretty good time considering the ‘heartbreak hill’ we had to battle up mid-run!

So thanks to Paul, Aaron and the other volunteers who made 21 January, 2012 a special day for parkrun in Australia. Our next event launch will be Kirra parkrun on 18 February, our 2nd event on the Gold Coast. See you there!

Sunrise over Sydney Park

Me and the wife!

And we are off!

Ascending 'heartbreak hill'

View of the CBD from Sydney park

A job well done...