Port parkrun set to celebrate two years of runs, walks, strolls and ambles
PORTARLINGTON parkrun will celebrate its second birthday this weekend.
Set up by Fiona Gilks two years ago, with the help of volunteers and support from the organisation, Portarlington parkrun has attracted locals, holidaymakers, state, interstate and international participants.
Every Saturday morning, people gather around a pop-up start line on the Esplanade, opposite Parks Hall in Portarlington, for the free, weekly, timed event.
They listen to some instructions and then go for a two-and-a-half-kilometre run, walk, stroll or amble east along the Esplanade, taking on a small hill before heading down to the long straight which skirts the bay.
Then at 2.5km a flag and marshal indicate the half-way point.
Volunteer Yvonne Varley said this was when most participants discovered an infamous headwind, which, combined with the upward incline, provided a challenge to those who chose to run.
Ms Varley said come hail, shine or heatwave, this community event attracted participants of all age groups.
She said participants could go as fast or as slow as they liked, with family, friends, dog and pram, and that many came for the social side, taking time to chat and enjoy the views.
“Just because it says parkrun doesn’t mean you need to run either – everyone is welcome!” Ms Varley said.
“People come for all sorts of reasons: some to get faster, some to keep fit, some to walk the dog but most people come for the social side.”
Ms Varley said average numbers were around 49, although they attracted more than 200 participants for the New Year’s Day event, when having completed the parkrun at Balyang Sanctuary, runners then came to the later Portarlington one to do a run again.
“In the winter numbers can be low but over the summer and school holidays, visitors to the Bellarine will often participate as well,” she said.
Ms Varley said volunteers and parkrun organisers were not paid for their time.
“They come because they enjoy being part of something for the community and, of course, because it is great fun,” she said,
“Volunteers do the timing, handout tokens and scan these together with the barcodes (which link your athlete’s barcode to the run time), marshal and tail walk.
“The person in charge on the day, run director, then combines the data and this is published online as well as e-mailed to those who are registered parkrunners.”
Ms Varley said in the future she would love the number of participants to grow throughout the year.
“It has been good to see so many young people joining in the event more recently and it would be good to see more of them and their parents, going into summer.
“We would also like to see more people stepping up to try some of the volunteer positions.
“Some people are worried about doing the wrong thing with the timing and scanning, but there is nothing that cannot be fixed up and we give extra support and training to those who do give it a go.
“We hope to continue to run the event for as long as the parkrun organisation exists.”
For more information, follow “Portarlington parkrun” on Facebook.