Wednesday, 16 January 2013

parkrun course description: South Bank, Brisbane

South Bank Parklands - Photo courtesy of the Brisbane City Council

It seems that parkrun has really hit its stride in Australia.

Since Tim Oberg, General Manager of parkrun Australia, set up Australia’s first parkrun at Main Beach in 2011 on Australia, the concept has spread like wildfire, and at the time of writing, Australia is home to eighteen parkrun events. 

My home parkrun is usually New Farm in Brisbane, but I visited one of the more recent additions to the parkrun family, South Bank parkrun, last Saturday for a cruise around the course.

Like New Farm, the South Bank course is based around the banks of the Brisbane River. Unlike New Farm, it is one large loop lacking a turnaround, which is great for keeping congestion on the course to a minimum. There is little chance of running head on into a fellow parkrunner unless, perhaps, they had a few too many the night before!

The Course

Starting in the South Bank park lands, runners win their way south east, up and over the Goodwill Bridge and along the shared path to the west adjacent to the Brisbane CBD. This part is fairly fast, with runners being able to make up lost time at the start by smashing it down the decline of the Goodwill Bridge.

South Bank parkrun map

Runners then have to navigate a shared bike path that proves to be one of the major cycleways around the CBD. It narrows in sections but generally safetly navigable if runners are sensible and are aware of their surroundings. I’d probably recommend turning off the iPod for this section so you can listen out for cyclists and other runners.

Runners then will run under both the Victoria Bridge and the William Jolly Bridge before hitting the most challenging part of the event – the stairs up to the Go Between Bridge. This happens around the 3.2 kilometre mark, and proves to be the most challenging part of the course, and an obstacle that threatens to shred personal bests asunder. There is also a fairly gentle incline as you cross the bridge, which feel hellish considering you’ve just conquered the stairs.

From there, runners wind back into the park lands on a fairly fast flat section along a shared path. This allows runners to potentially make up for a lot of the lost time during the bridge section. 

My experience

I had mixed feelings when I first heard about South Bank parkrun. On one hand, it was great to have another event in and around Brisbane city considering the large numbers at New Farm. On the other, I worried that having to run down a busy shared pathway may mean safety issues and potential clashes from non-parkrunners.

I headed down last weekend to try it out and I’ll admit that my concerns were unfounded. Because of the great work of the volunteer marshals as well as good pre-race briefing, most parkrunners were acutely aware of the safety issues and kept left at all times.

The day I was there (12 January 2013) South Bank parkrun broke their attendance record with 217 participants despite temperatures sitting around 30 degrees Celsius at seven in the morning (more when relative humidity is considered).

The heat and unfamiliarity with the course was a recipe for taking it easy. Despite my less than super-fast pace, the Go Between Bridge was a challenge, a challenge that seemed to defeat many in the heat. Still, it’s great to have an interesting obstacle such as a bridge climb in a parkrun and a great opportunity to work the quadriceps to the limit! I took it relatively easy, trying to get a feel for the course, and came in at 83rd place in a time of 27 minutes (26:30 watch time).

Overall, South Bank is a welcome addition to the Brisbane parkrun stable and while I’ll be giving some of the other local runs a try out in the coming weeks, I’m certainly planning to return to South Bank and give the legs a real hard workout.


  1. You missed out the most interesting bit - at least 1km of the course is run under cover! Not many parkrun coursed can boast that.

    1. A great review, thanks Darragh.

      1km under-cover does sound very unusual. I'm wondering if that shades and reduces the temperature or amplifies it?!

    2. I did indeed miss that. Well spotted. The shade is a welcome relief from the summer heat.


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