General information about the Noosa Parkrun can be found on their website. This review will give you a view of the run through my unique perspective. The review is broken into four sections, including general feel pre-race, running the actual course, my final thoughts and the mandatory post mortem coffee scene. Let’s start by looking at the general feel, pre-race.
Noosa is a mecca for some of the best endurance triathletes on the planet. Jan Frodeno, Emma Snowsil, Mirinda Carfrae, Tim O’Donnell, Melissa Hauschildt and Pete Jacobs, just to name a few, call this part of the world home for part of the year. So it is not surprising that, on the odd occasion, some of these superstars descend on the Noosa Parkrun and run with us, the mere mortals. It is a buzz seeing them toeing the line alongside you and watching them blaze into the distance after the starter lets us go. This is certainly worth the price of admission to come on down and possibly see a superstar in full flight. On the day I did this review there were unfortunately no superstars, only 141 eager and committed ‘wannabes’ ready to test their mettle against a challenging course.
The run is staged out of the Noosaville Primary School, where there is ample parking. I got there early to do my warm up and was back in time to watch the throng of the runners flood across the car park into the starting chute which doubles as the emergency access road to the back of the school. No doubt one or two ambulances have driven this road over the years to pick up the sick and injured.
Looking at the runners crossing the car park it didn’t look like it would be needed today. With such a beautiful location, it is hard not to be fit and healthy and as a holiday destination you certainly can’t go wrong getting up early and hitting this Parkrun before sampling the finest beaches, coffee and food the Sunshine Coast has to offer. I would say that out of the 141 runners at least 15 would have been on holidays, which gives the race a nice international feel to it.
Like all Parkruns, the course is 5km long. Well, it is supposed to be! I have run this course 10 times now and each time it always measures short on my GPS watch. They assure me that the course has been measured and I believe them. I can only attribute the difference in distance to the tree lined course which may cause the satellites to drop out. So be forewarned that if you want it to be an official 5k time on your Strava or Garmin accounts you may need to run through the finishing chute and down the hill to recapture the final 100 to 200m of lost distance.
The start of the race has a short but nasty uphill left hand dog leg. If you are a front runner, get out the front early to avoid any of the potential carnage as the path has an ankle destroying drop off if you are pushed off. If you are in the mid or back of the field just be patient as the field will bottleneck initially, but will soon snake out over the next 400m of gentle decline.
At this point you will run next to a road on your right-hand side and you will have the school’s playing fields on your left. It is certainly not picturesque yet, but it is a fast start for the race and sets people up well for the steeper decline that will hit you at your next left hand turn. Down this hill you will fly and if you just lean back and thrown your legs out the front you will enjoy a very fast first kilometre.
The course from this point forward snakes along a bush lined walking track that has punchy uphill sections followed by long down hill declines where your speed and breath returns. The first half of the course has a PB 2.5km written all over it, if you can suspend your disbelief that you have to return up the course you just flew down. Out of the 10 times I have done it I never seem to hold anything back. I stupidly run like I have no fear of the return journey and I will magically run just as fast up the hill as I did down, with a super-human ability to defy gravity. Alas it never happens and I seem destined to positive split this course with some extra minutes thrown in just to rub salt into the wound.
As the course is out and back it means that there is only one hairpin turn at 2.5km. I suspect that no one likes hairpin turns whether it be running, riding or especially swimming. They slow you down as you come to them, they hurt as you accelerate out of them and they play with your mind as you momentarily come to a stop when you change direction. The good part is the fact that this one signals that you are half way and only have 2.5km left. The bad part is the realization that you have to run back up the gentle hill that you just ran down.
Depending on your mindset, the course is perfectly organized into three sub sections. It has a 1.5km gentle downhill to start followed by 2km of flat as you head toward and away from the turn around and then 1.5km of gentle rise with a steep hill thrown in 500m before the finish. If you, like I stupidly do every time, leave nothing in your tank for that final 1500m run home you will be demoralizingly passed by the smarter runners who conserved their energy on the way out. If I could summarize this run it would be encapsulated in the phrase, ‘cause and effect through wilful ignorance.’
I love to hate this course. I know that is terrible to say, but rest assured it is a good love hate relationship. I love the beautiful bushland setting and the cooling microclimate of the shaded course. I love the people that organize this run, their positivity and their love of running is infectious. They make people feel welcome and want you to have a great time. I also love that the course is challenging and lulls you into a false sense of security, then regifts the flying start by slapping it back into your face on the return. And what I most love is that tries to teach patience.
My dislike of the course, on the other hand, can be summarized in the stopped watch starring back at me when I cross the line. Not only does it show a time which was outside my 5km PB time, it doesn’t even have the courtesy to show me a full 5km. In the case of the run I did for this review it showed 4.78km. Which meant even if I did have the perfect race and nailed a PB it wouldn’t have ‘counted’ because it wasn’t the full distance. In many ways that is what this run does. It gives but not fully. I would equate it to a cat as a pet. A cat will let you stroke its but only as long as it wants you to pet it. This course will purr for you as your feet fly across the surface for the first 3.5km then turns around and scratch you across the face in the final 1.5km if you forget your place and it gets bored with you. While this may sound slightly melodramatic, you really need to experience this course to see that my personification of the course is pretty accurate.
My final take away for this course is don’t get caught up in wilful ignorance, you will need to hasten slowly over these 5km (4.78km!).
Post mortem Coffee Scene
I would say that the coffee shop café scene around the Tewantin, Noosa river and Noosa beach areas rivals that of Melbourne. The coffee is great no matter where you go and you could easily have upwards of 20 – 30 places to go that would not disappoint. I suggest the following:
Tewantin: Zabe or Coffee Club to sit and watch the hustle and bustle of the past and present interacting. Tewantin sits as the top bend of the Noosa river and just like the mix of salty and fresh water that flows past this township, the people are a brackish mix of old and new existing in the same area but in completely different niches. If you are dissatisfied with your run, then strike up a conversation with the locals and you will not be disappointed as you journey down a path which only seems to get better as time marches on.
Noosa River: Jimmy Fox, Raw Energy or if I am truthful 20 other spots along this river strip. If Tewantin was a mix of old and new, then the Noosa River area is fast paced and brimming with confidence and life. From the constant stream of cyclists and runner that drip sweat along this path to the family groups that come to play in the beautiful calm waters, this place is pumped full of energy. Come here if you want to re-energize and you had a good run but not perfect. Seeing people enjoying their lives will make you feel better about your efforts and motivate you to do better next time.
Noosa beach: Betty’s Burgers or Aromas Hastings street. If you had the run of your life and you think your good fortune will continue long enough to find a park in this thriving hub then pin your ears back and go for it. Good comes to those that are brave enough to push the limits. If you are lucky enough to get a park within 3km of Hastings street then you are in for a treat as you stroll along the countless offerings of food, coffee and expensive resort wear purveyors. If you are confident in your sweaty lycra running gear then embrace the counterpoint of pastel jumpers tied loosely around necks and gold adorned glasses that frame cosmetically chiselled faces. But be safe in the knowledge that the achievement of your 5km run today came at the end of blood, sweat and tears.
Next week – Nambour Parkrun
Noosa Park Run stats
(Accessed 4th May 2019)
First run 12 August 2014.
Number of events: 254
Number of runners: 6,234
Number of runs: 24,090
Number of first finishers: 262
Number of clubs: 490
Number of PBs: 3,646
Average number of runners per week: 94.8
Average number of runs per runner: 3.9
Biggest Attendance: 218
Average run time: 00:30:48
Total hours run: 1Years 150Days 11Hrs 51Min 37Secs
Total distance run: 120,450km
Female record holder: Melissa HAUSCHILDT - 17:31 - Event 101 (25/06/16)
Male record holder: Jared HAUSCHILDT - 15:53 - Event 91 (16/04/16)
Age graded record holder: Judith STEWART - 90.19 % - 24:17 - Event 200 (05/05/18)