Event 46 – Melbourne parkrun

Albert Park

Another parkrun but this time in Australia – parkruns are everywhere!

I’m in Australia visiting friends.  My dear friend Natalie who I have known for 25 years, my old neighbours Mark and Annette who live in Perth now and my running friends from my running forum who had travelled to Melbourne to see me.

Me and Natalie

I met Natalie when she was in London travelling and working, we worked at the same software company for a short while (I met Ian there too – a good place to work!).  We hit it off straight away and have been friends ever since.  Even though she is Australian and lives in Melbourne with her family I have managed to see her every two years 🙂 Though we won’t be doing any of my 50 events together we have plenty of other “events” planned – swimming with the dolphins and a day at the races amongst  other things and of course we have last two years of our lives to catch up on.

Annette and Me – bad hair day!

Mark and Annette and their three boys moved out to Perth over ten years ago, They used to live round the corner from me when we lived in Cranleigh Surrey (where I did my parkrun the other day – oh my, this year is all linking up).   They have a wonderful lifestyle in sunny Perth, which seems from Facebook posts to mainly involve mucking around on the water and having fun although they do assure me that they work too.   No events in Perth either but lots of walking,catching up and fun on the boat.

Me, Anne and Jo at parkrun briefing

Back to Melbourne and my running pals.  Again, considering where they live I’ve met them all before and couple of them a few times.   The minute they turned up at the apartment we had rented it was like two years had melted away and it was only yesterday we were last chatting with wine and nibbles.

Our parkrun run group consisted of Anne from Adelaide, we ran Adelaide parkrun together a couple of years ago, Jo from Orange, we have done Adelaide and Sydney parkrun together. Angela from Newcastle – she came along to cheer us on in Adelaide and Sydney and would do the same again here in Melbourne – Ang also saw me in Edinburgh last year when I did the Half Marathon.  Georgia who lives in Melbourne and is currently injured was also there to cheer us on  with daughter Tilly and hubby Mike and last but not least was Alex – I’ve done Melbourne  parkrun with her before and she brought along her mother, Janice and her lovely daughter Katie who has done nearly 50 parkruns!!!!  she is only 7!

Wake up Katie – time to run!

Parkrun starts at 8am in Australia which seems very early, I guess it’s because of the heat although Melbourne was a chilly 8C when we left the apartment so 9am would have been better 🙂   We were all quite tired after a late night chatting and the long travel for the girls  – Jo had spent 3 hours on a bus and 7 hours on a train to get to our meet up!  My body still wanted to be on London time so my sleep had been all over the place and Ang and Anne had both had flights the day before.

We walked the 2km to Albert Park – the weather was very Melbourne.  Oh course it wouldn’t be a Paula Green event without the threat of some adverse weather conditions and Melbourne delivered – it was very cold and the wind was blowing hard – big black clouds loomed overhead.  Melbourne with its four seasons in a day was showing us all its options.  But by some miracle it stayed dry for the run and if I pointed my camera in the right direction it looked hot and sunny lol!

Anne, me and Jo – clouds looming
Georgia and Ang – big cheer!

It was nice to do this parkrun again – it’s one loop round a big lake.  The track around the outside is easy to run on and there is plenty of room, although a couple of times I got a bit close to the lake edge and one elbow nudge and I would have ended up with swans – now that would have been a good blog post 🙂   The swans had babies and I was torn between running for a good time and taking pictures – I kept running.  I also saw a flock of cockatoos – you don’t see those in Taunton and lots of rowers training on the water.  All very jolly.

I had my usual feelings at 1km – “I can’t go on” and at 2.5km when we were the furthest point from the start I looked back across the lake and it seemed a really long way away.  Around 3km Anne came whizzing past and disappeared into the distance.  I was running ok at this point but I couldn’t catch her – I tried!

From about 500m I could finally see the finish flags and put on a little spurt which got me another finish time under 30 minutes – 29.50.  Ten seconds slower than my last time there but nine seconds faster than Belfast the other week – yay!

Colder than it looks!

At the finish Anne and I waited for Jo to cross the line five minutes later and then Alex and her family, who walk the parkrun, a little while after.  Katie did a great sprint at the end to finish strong.

After staying dry for the run the rain had now started – so we left the park and headed to a cafe for a well earned breakfast of….Cruffins, a croissant and muffin combo – love Australia 🙂

Lunch at St Kilda with Up&Running girls





Event 45 Cary Canter 10k


I nearly didn’t go to this one – I’d had a rare bad nights sleep, a bit of a sore throat and woke up to heavy rain.  Add in the fact that I was flying to Australia the next day, a wet muddy event didn’t seem too appealing.

But I did go, and I course I loved it 🙂  Sore throat disappeared, coffee woke me up and hey it wouldn’t be the first event I’ve done in the rain.

Castle Cary is only 40 minutes away but not somewhere I know well.  In fact most of the time I just think of it as a train stop on the way to London.  Although a few years ago when Somerset was flooded for months we did get the train from Castle Cary a few times  – so I knew the way to the station and the event was close by.


It was a small event – around 150 people and is part of the 1610 Race Series – just realised as I wrote this that it was held on the 16th Oct!! Nice.  1610 are a group of gyms.  I’ve done their events before and they are good value and well organised.

The train line

I got there at 9.15 and collected my bib, it was number 51 – only one number out – Ian said I should save it for next year lol!  It was drizzling and overcast but I wandered around and checked out the start area.  I got chatting with the timing mat guy and he said that some racers had already started ??? Apparently they were walkers and wanted to get a head start – Walkers?  Yes!! What a good idea – the organisers were happy to let them start early and what a great way to encourage people to do their events – maybe next year they will try and run.

Pretty trails

The next good idea they had was starting the race a few minutes early.  We were all at the start line and the drizzle had turned to heavy rain.  The race briefing  had been done so the announcer just said “Let’s not hang around”  “Let’s get this thing started” GO.  Brilliant!

Snaking across the fields

We ran across a field to a country lane and promptly stopped.  There was a car coming the other way – probably shocked to see 150 people running straight at them.  Once passed the car we turned off the lane into some fields and down a very steep slippy wet grassy hill – this gave us a superb veiw of the very steep slippy wet grassy hill going UP the other side…..and then down again and then up again.  There were also around six styles to clamber over – all covered in mud – at this point I was very near the back so 130 muddy people had already climbed over.

One of many styles to cross

I was loving it already – it’s suits my style of running, basically running with stops and walking 🙂 The whole course was pretty much up or down and the flatter bits were on bumpy trails.  It was very pretty and the changing weather – the rain stopped and  started the whole way round – made the scenery seem more dramatic, as the clouds moved above creating shadows and the sun tried in vain to peep through.

6k marker at the top of another hill

I spent the whole race with a grin on my face as I jumped over puddles, squished through mud, hiked up hills and skipped down slopes.  I saw some poor woman fall into some nettles as she slipped on the grass, I managed to stay upright though.  I also loved doing the 10k distance – longer than most of my recent runs.

Everyone around me was very friendly and in good spirits.  We all laughed when the Marshals said things like, “it’s easier from here” – it wasn’t or “it flattens out a bit now” – it didn’t. But nobody cared and before long the finish line was in sight.  Despite being a very cheap race to enter – £8 we got a nice medal and a very useful water bottle with a handle.


Then home and back to my packing.  Next stop Australia.  Next Event Melbourne parkrun 🙂

Event 44 – Belfast parkrun

Me with Tara

Twenty years ago on Monday October 7th 1996 my friend Tara was blown up by a car bomb while serving in the army in North Ireland.  She sustained a terrible head injury and nearly died.  One of the soldiers hit that day did die.

On Friday October 7th 2016, she was back in Northern Ireland, remembering events from twenty years ago,  This time she was with me, her partner Michelle and my sister Adi.  Despite staying at the Europa Hotel – the most bombed hotel in Europe we were hoping for a slightly less eventful weekend!  This time it was to celebrate that Tara survived and was still with us.

Tara, Adi and Michelle

When Tara mentioned to me back in February that she was thinking of visiting Belfast to mark the 20 years  I said I would love to come along….then I cheekily asked if she would mind me doing an event 🙂 Being the good friend that she is she said yes and would join me.

Sister Adi and I flew out with Easyjet from Bristol on Friday afternoon, this time unlike our last attempted mini break to Edinburgh it all went to plan.  The flight was on time and there were no weather issues.  We arrived at Belfast International airport on time and after buying our bus ticket had two minutes to catch the bus….the exercise had begun, good warm up for parkrun, although if you had seen the state of me an Adi gasping at the closing bus doors you would have had your doubts about our chances of completing parkrun!


Tara and Michelle had arrived earlier in the day and were waiting for us in the bar of the Europa, after a quick bag drop in the room, a change of tops and a dash of lipstick we were ready.  We came back to the bar and to our first prosecco of the night…there may have been a few more.

Tara had booked a table at the hotel, in fact she had booked all the activities for the weekend, she is so organised.  Over dinner she told us a bit more about the events 20 years ago.  As a  young soldier she was based in Germany but was called up to do a six month tour of duty in North Ireland….this was the first time her troop had sent women to Northern Ireland.  She had only been there just over a month when it happened…a car bomb in the barracks.

Europa Hotel

She was rushed to Victoria hospital where surgeons operated to remove pieces of skull and shrapnel from her brain, she was not expected to last the night.  But she survived and spent five days in intensive care where she was protected 24 hours a day by armed guards outside her room.

She told us that the surgeons were some of the best in the world at this type of surgery, unfortunately because they got so much practise.  The other surgery they excelled at was knee repair, again, due to the number of knee capping incidents so popular during the troubles.


Tara recovered and even went back into the army for a while.  She was left with limited vision…meaning she still can’t drive (she was a driver in the army) and to this day suffers from extreme fatigue if she over does it.

Gates at Ormeau park

As those who know Tara, this doesn’t stop her doing amazing stuff – she has a half ironman under her belt and is signed up for another one next year.  She completed her first marathon this year in Edinburgh (yep, the trip I was supposed to be on) and completed the 1000 mile Land’s End to John O’Groats bike ride with me last year.  Despite her limited vision she navigated us both throughout the trip.  Her limited vision and sense of direction still much better than mine!  As well as her athletic feats she has a part time job as a carer and is a senior leader with the Samaritans ….she is also a very good and supportive friend  and I feel very lucky to know her.


The next morning we all woke a little bleary eyed and very grateful that parkrun starts at 9.30 in Ireland! Yay a lie in 🙂   It would be our first event together this year.  As usual Tara was super organised and guided us on the 40 minute walk to Ormeau Park.

It was a very pretty park and I wish I had taken more photos, but we arrived with just enough time to find the start location within the park – parks can be big – and dump all our stuff with Michelle, who we made get up early for just this job – Thanks Michelle 🙂   We also left the park in hurry to get back to our hotel breakfast which finished at 11am – so no photo chances then either.

Parkrun pose! – Adi realised a minute later that her top was inside out 🙂

So… two laps, the first was 2km and the second 3km.  It was nice and flat and had about 300 runners.  It was a cloudy autumnal day and a good temperature for running.  No rain – yay!

Ormeau parkrun startline

We all ran together for a while before Tara picked up the pace and got ahead.  I stayed with Adi – I don’t really have more than one pace and I was running it.  As usual at the 1km mark I was thinking “how am I going to run 5km” I heard Adi voice the same thing when she heard my watch buzz the 1km.  But of course we all got round.  Tara slowed a bit having not run since July due to injury and Adi and I plodded on.  I managed to just get under 30 minutes – 29.59!!! Adi and Tara were close behind.

Everyone was pleased with their run and it was a great way to start the day.  Michelle had a nice time chatting with some other spectators too and shouted out encouragement as we went by.  Apparently, she found out,  there was a 92 year old lady running that day – wow – that’s going to be me one day!  I checked the results later and there was a runner in the 85-89 category (I wonder if it doesn’t go higher) with a time of 43 minutes! I think we saw her at the end but like I say we were rushing back for breakfast lol!

Titanic Museum

The weekend continued with a visit to the Titanic museum in the afternoon, the Titanic was built at the shipping yard in Belfast  – definitely worth a visit.  By the end of the day we were all exhausted – my watch said we had walked 26000 steps !  A pub meal and a few drinks followed by an early night.  On Sunday we were back out sight seeing on the City Hop on Hop off bus.  We hopped on and stayed on for the full 90 minutes tour.  They made me sit upstairs in the open top  section…..we all froze lol!  But it was great to see the city and for Tara to visit areas she was not allowed to go  20 years ago.  We passed the hospital where her life was saved….it seemed very real then.

City tour

I wonderful weekend with special people….. we are already planning the next one!

Event 44 done!





Event 43 – Cranleigh parkrun

img_6865The rain was hammering on the window screen and bouncing off the ground in the car park.  Willow the dog was huddled up on my feet wanting to stay dry. My poor friend Sally was wondering what she had let herself in for.   We were in Cranleigh for parkrun and would be meeting up with our friends Pam and Moira, all of them new to parkrun and all of them here because they wanted to do an event with me.  Please let the rain stop…..please!!!

Willow wishing me luck

Pam, Moira and Sally are friends from my baby group – the NCT classes for first time mums and dads.  Our babies are now 21 – but we have stayed in touch all these years. Meeting every year for afternoon tea around Christmas time with our other friends Sarah and Sue who unfortunately couldn’t make this meet up 😦  and various meet ups though out the year usually when they are passing through the South West for holidays or Uni visits.

Cranleigh was where we all met.  I was the only one of our group (there were eight of us back then) that actually lived in Cranleigh – the others lived in the surrounding villages but the classes were held there.  I lived there for 12 years, got married there and the kids started school there.  It is a lovely “village” – well really a small town, very Surrey – good housing stock, local shops and lots of greenery.

Willow and Sally

It was fun coming back – it hadn’t changed much, a few more shops and of course no parkrun back then.

At 8.50 the rain calmed down and Sally and I made the five minute dash to the start of parkrun, past the football field and across a country lane into ….a field! Not a park at all – but very pretty and perfect for a 5k run.

Parkrun starts at 9am and at 9am the rain magically stopped and it stayed dry for the hour we were there – even saw a peep of sunshine.

The local MP was there for some reason and started us off.  3, 2, 1, GO. Unlike Coventry a few weeks ago this was all on grass.  The grass was wet, obviously, but actually not too bad to run on, a small trail having been made from weeks of parkruns.

Moira, Sally and Pam dressed for the rain

We had plans to catch up with a lunch afterwards so I felt happy running off and doing my own race.  Sally runs most mornings with her dog, Willow, who was also with us, but Moira and Pam do other activities and would probably need to walk  a bit.

I needed to walk a bit myself when at 1km as a  big long hill appeared.  I got a fair way up but it was hard going on the grass and I figured walking was just as quick, it also gave me time to take in the stunning views of the Surrey countryside. The other side was quite steep downhill and bit slippy as Moira found out, falling over and getting covered in mud – welcome to parkrun Moira 🙂


It was a  two lap course and weaved around the fields.  You could see the finish line from most places on the course but just when you thought you were getting near, the course would suddenly change direction away from the finish.  It did make it easy to spot the others though across the fields and every one was doing well.   Sally and Willow were on my heels through out, chatting away – Sally not the dog, in fact Willow would have run twice as fast given the chance.  It was very enjoyable and like all parkruns very friendly, other runners chatting to us and the marshals shouting encouragement.

I hadn’t run for a couple of weeks as my  knee, which plays up now and then had been a bit sore – not surprisingly giving what I’ve put it through this year.  It was a little ouchy at first but then seemed fine.  For a hilly off road course I was very happy with my 31.56 time 🙂

Surrey countryside

At the finish line while Sally and I waited for the others I head a “Hello” – it was my old neighbour Mary.  It was lovely to see her although I couldn’t remember her name straight away……certainly felt 50 then!  We had a nice chat and got a photo.

Me and Mary

We all had a great time and I’m sure I could persuade them all to do another parkrun again sometime.


We headed back to the car and the minute we got in the heavens opened and the rain came down.  The parkrun weather fairies had been on our side though and allowed us a dry run.

We finished off the day with a lovely lunch back at Sally’s house and a proper catch up.

Dry and ready for lunch

A quick shoutout too to sister Adi who did Dartford parkrun, after a 3 hour drive to Dartford from Somerset, getting there with eight minutes to spare!  Also to my friend Sarah with a great comeback parkrun in Scotland, after being injured for a while.  Well done – a good parkrun day all round!

Event 43 done!