Parkrun anniversary a great success with more than 50 joining the fun event

THE NEWCASTLE Park parkrun celebrated its first birthday last month.

The birthday event was celebrated by 54 participants and six volunteers.

Parkrun director Shuba Johns welcomed all participants and said that parkrun is all about community and was a good way to meet people and families new to the local area.

The word “parkrun” may be a bit misleading, however, as the 5km event is open to all paces.

So, for the birthday event we saw the runners, the pram pushers, the walkers, and the volunteers.

A few dogs were also spotted – the rule being one hound per person on the course, all were on their best behaviour (including the dogs).

Lloyd Reid was first through the glittering tinseled curtain setup between two gum trees in Newcastle.

He went through this finish line in a time of 22 minutes and two seconds – followed six seconds later by Raoul Oehmen and then Daniel Fisher.

A mere 30 seconds separated the first and third across the line.

Happy parkrunners. Photo: Jordan Turnock

By 9am all participants had finished the course and were tucking into a BBQ breakfast and parkrun birthday cake.

Local resident Greg Warburton has participated in 27 parkruns and knows the course well.

He said that for him parkrun has been great for his physical and mental health and that it was good for community networking.

“I used to be a runner so parkrun has allowed me to discover I can still jog at my age”.

And jog he can, finishing the course in 31 minutes and 25 seconds.

There were also seven first timers at the parkrun birthday event including Monika Zechetmayr and Peter Edwards.

Both agreed that the local parkrun was a great event with good community spirit and that they will be back to participate in future parkruns.

The growth of the event has also seen new facilities in Newcastle Park – including a water fountain that was well used on what was a humid birthday.

Shuba Johns said that the park would also benefit from a unisex toilet.

Since the local event started in early 2023 over 800 participants have covered the course that takes them across the Newcastle Park footbridge to a turning point beyond the Boyagerring Brook crossing near the Toodyay District High School: two laps and you are done.

The youngest local participant started at the weekly parkrun event at five years old – she still fronts up a year later to tackle the course.

Glen Turner, Communications and Health & Wellbeing Manager at parkrun Asia Pacific, said anyone over the age of four can participate in parkrun but up to the age of 11 they must take part within arm’s reach of a responsible adult at all times.

At the birthday event many parents and grandparents were observed walking, running and volunteering with their young ones in prams, so the parkrun experience for many starts pretty early.

Age is definitely no barrier with some local participants being young at heart and above 70 years of age.

The local parkrun averages 40 participants each Saturday

Given the 5km course that works out to the parkrunners covering 200km just at this one parkrun – or over 10,000km since the first event in February 2023.

At the celebration event there was a mix of locals and Perth visitors participating in the scenic parkrun.

The local parkrun is one of 482 parkruns around Australia and was the 50th in Western Australia.

It is also the only “N” in WA (a parkrun starting with the letter N) – parkrun rules name the event after the park it centres around, rather than the town.

Most parkruns are in public open spaces, but some are also delivered in correctional centres, remand centres, and Australian Defence Force bases.

In 2024, there has been an average of 78,343 parkrun participants in Australia each Saturday.

Based on this average, parkrunners around Australia have covered more than 700,000kms in 2024 and volunteered in 55,000 different roles.

That the small country town of Toodyay hosts its own parkrun is testament to the small group of locals that started running together in January 2022.

Fast forward to 2024 and the Newcastle Park parkrun is a weekly event that all locals can take pride in.