West Beach parkrun

Posted on: 05 Dec 2022

My second parkrun report from Australia comes from the city of Adelaide.  After the first weekend in Melbourne I set off in my hire car for a journey westwards.  Driving in Australia does impress on you how vast the country is.  Adelaide and Melbourne appear comparatively close to each other on the map but there is still 500 miles to cover between the two cities.

Adelaide is Australia’s fifth largest city.  It used to be in third place but has since been overtaken by Perth and Brisbane.  Nonetheless with a population of around 1.3 million, it is still a very substantial place.  The history of the region in the colonial era began in the 1830s when the decision was taken to found the new colony of South Australia.  South Australians retain a certain pride that their state never received any convicts but instead was intended for free men to start a new life on the other side of the world.  A capital was needed for the new colony and a site was found on the coastal plain between the Gulf St Vincent and the range of hills, known as the Mount Lofty Range.  The name Adelaide comes from the wife of William IV who was king when the settlement was founded. 

The new city centre was built to a design by one Colonel William Light and, to this day, it is sometimes referred to as “Light’s Vision”.  The plan involves a grid pattern of streets, including some wide boulevards and some open squares, the whole surrounded by a framework of parkland, the northern edge running along the course of the River Torrens.  The city centre today remains true to Light’s Vision, although the outer suburbs have since sprawled in all directions.  Adelaide is sometimes referred to as the “the 20 minute city”  in that nearly everywhere can reached within that time.  That’s not quite true nowadays but it is not too far from the truth.  Central Adelaide is an appealing place with plenty of grand Victorian public building and churches.  It has some lively shopping streets and some interesting museums and galleries.  It has some fine educational facilities.  And the whole is set within a circle of parks which offer a leafy respite from city life.  In those lists of “the world’s most livable cities”  Adelaide usually comes somewhere near the top.

Life on the Adelaide city-fringe at Botaniq - Botaniq

To the west, Adelaide borders the Gulf St Vincent and there are some nice beaches, stretching for several miles.  For my parkrun on Saturday I chose to go to West Beach parkrun.  I chose this one simply because it was close to where I was staying but also because I enjoy runs that go up and down seaside promenades.  I wasn’t too optimistic about my chances.  The only bad thing that happened to me in Australia was that I developed a head cold.  It didn’t stop me from doing anything I wanted to do but then I was rather snotty in the first week and a bit chesty in the second week.  The Adelaide parkrun came at the crossover from snottiness to chestiness so I doubted that I would run very well.

Adelaide had been enduring some storms in the previous days, in fact there was a particularly lively storm at 6 AM on the Saturday morning, so I wasn’t entirely sure that the parkrun would take place.  Fortunately the storm passed, the skies cleared and it was a nice bright morning when I arrived at West Beach.  The course was a straightforward out and back along the seafront promenade.  There was one little complication in that when you got back to the starting point you then had to continue southwards for a few hundred metres before turning round again and heading to the finish.

West Beach is a fairly popular event and there were nearly 200 runners there for what was the 300th running of this event.  So off we went.  Despite my cold, I seemed to be running reasonably well and I reached the first turn around in just over ten minutes.  I maintained this pace fairly well and got back to the start finish area in just over twenty minutes.  Someone was taking photos at this point, so here I am near the finish.

May be an image of 11 people, people standing and outdoors

We still had to do the short out and back in the opposite direction.  I was pleased to find that it was shorter than I had expected and I managed to pick up the pace on the final run in.   My final time was 22:10, which was pleasantly surprising, and my position was 26th.  Much better than I had anticipated.  A personal best for the City of Adelaide.

My statistics for this run - 26th place in 22:10.  I was first in my age group and fourth overall on age graded scores.  That was my parkrun venue number 271.

Surprisingly there are no videos of West Beach parkrun so I shall leave you with this one instead - the top ten things to do in Adelaide.

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