Sunday, 20 January 2013

parkrun course description: Sandgate, Brisbane

Sandgate - Photo by Michael Zimmer. Used under the Creative Commons license.

I got up slightly earlier than usual last Saturday in order to drive north to participate in Sandgate parkrun.

Sandgate, nestled in Brisbane’s northern suburbs against the chin of Moreton Bay, seems like a pretty chilled out place. Those who run or cycle along the beach foreshore get treated to unobstructed views of the ocean as well as the Redcliffe Peninsula, which sits to the north. Cycling seems popular around these parts, and I pass numerous pelotons as I drive to Arthur Davis Park, the starting area for Sandgate parkrun.

Sandgate parkrun is a relatively new addition to the Brisbane parkrun fellowship, having started in November 2011. It’s quickly become a popular event, and on the day I attended (January 19th 2013), the event had witnessed is second consecutive attendance record with 141, which included 46 first timers.

Summer wasn’t going to make it easy for us though. Brisbane was in for a hot day with a forecasted maximum sitting around 35 degrees including very high humidity, meaning runners were going to get very hot, very quickly. Today’s event was certainly going to be a personal challenge.

The Course

Sandgate parkrun starts off in Arthur Davis Park, which sits on the Sandgate foreshore and overlooks Moreton Bay. Runners run north for 2.5kms along Flinders Parade before turning and heading back towards the course origin. Of course this means you can say ‘hey’ to your other friends as you loop back towards the finish. On one side you have the ocean, and on the other is a park. There looks to be a handy swimming pool nearly the start and end zone as well.

Sandgate parkrun course

While my Garmin says otherwise, the course seems nearly pancake flat, and wide enough to accommodate comfortable numbers of runners and cyclists in both directions. It does narrow slightly in the mid-section and runners may have to be wary of cyclists.  For this reason, perhaps leaving the iPod at home is a good idea. Safety should always trump the beats.

Running the course, I’m reminded a lot of Wynnum parkrun in Brisbane’s east. Both are on the shores of Moreton Bay and both don’t offer a huge amount of shade. Without going into elevation profiles, both seem mostly flat, although I suspect Sandgate may be slightly more even in terms of terrain. Furthermore, I’ll expect Sandgate to be slightly faster than Wynnum due to only having one turnaround. Both are quick, but perhaps Sandgate has the edge.

The event directors at Sandgate parkrun are a husband and wife team who seemed very friendly and approachable. When I was there, they had a laptop ready for new registrations, and also plenty of drinking water and fluids. Someone even brought oranges! 

My experience

I’ve been a pretty keen parkrun tourist in January, having done my first South Bank run last weekend. Keeping up this burgeoning tradition, I was inspired to get up slightly earlier than usual on the Saturday and drive the 40 minutes to Sandgate from my home in the inner southern suburbs. With so many parkruns in Brisbane, I can indulge in different courses and take in new surroundings at a whim.

Sandgate parkrun meeting area - photo by Darragh Murray
It seemed to be low tide when I was running the Sandgate event, and that meant the occasional whiff of that low tide smell. It’s not bad or anything, actually it might keep you from drifting off into that internal dreamlike place that happens to me when running, and keep my mind on the prize.

I’ve been running 5ks fairly consistently over the past few weeks but hadn’t yet got near enough to being fit enough to break my parkrun PB. Last week I ran a 27 minute parkrun time on a hot South Bank course (26:30 watch), and while I didn’t go out to run super-fast or anything at Sandgate, I did notice that I completed my first few kilometres in sub 5 minute/kilometre pace which is fast for me. I felt fine as I reached the turnaround part of the course.

Post turnaround was a bit of a nightmare as I suddenly began to feel super-hot and super tired. It seemed the sun was bearing right into my soul and evaporating all my energy, and I quickly dialed back my pace and many started to pass me out. In honesty, I’d probably started out too quickly and was paying the price. Around the 4 kilometre mark, I’d found my steady pace again and finished strongly with a parkrun time of 25 minutes (watch time was 24m 48s).

Sandgate parkrun - near the finish line - Photo by Darragh Murray

I was wrecked at the end, but thankfully the organisers had put on plenty of fluids and oranges (as I had mentioned) which made recovery so much easier. It looked like a few people did suffer in the heat, so I didn’t feel left out! As always, much kudos to the organisers and all the volunteers.

I’m rarely disappointed by parkrun events, and Sandgate has proven to be a great addition to the parkrun family. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to run it again, but I’m thinking I may wait for slightly cooler weather before I’ll make the journey up again. 

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