All the information about Mudjimba Park Run can be found on their Park run web page. It is my goal through these reviews to simply give you a view of the runs through my unique perspective. I will break this into 4 sections which will include general feel, the course, my final thoughts followed by the mandatory post mortem coffee scene. Let’s start by looking at the general feel, pre-race.
The general feel of the Mudjimba park run is apparent as soon as you pull up and cruise for car parks with the local surfers. Perched on the path running parallel to Mudjimba beach this park run is as beachy as the sun bleached blonde tresses of the 60-year-old long boarder who is waxing his board on the start line. There is an instant relaxation that falls over you as you walk through the community of runners that are in attendance. You can’t help be caught up in the beach vibe of the area. This atmosphere is underlined by natures contribution through the smell of the salt air and the gentle sway of the casuarina trees in the early morning sea breeze. While there is a calmness to the area there is an under lying ‘crackle’ as the 7 am start time approaches and you start to notice the slightly hastened pace of the surfers as they make their way to catch, what they hope will be, the wave of the day. Some of the runners around you also share the same hopes and desires. Today may be the day where I have the perfect run and I surf the wave of endorphins and adrenalin to my PB! The course does tantalisingly hold up the lure of a PB in front of you but it holds it just out of reach. If you want to get a PB on this course you will have to paddle hard to get it as there are a few course quirks and features that will make it hard to achieve your goal. More of that in the course overview shortly.
Let’s start with a few general details about the Mudjimba parkrun first. This run is staged next to the Mudjimba Beach Surf lifesaving club, which is on the corner of Mudjimba Beach Esplanade and Mudjimba Beach Road, Mudjimba. As already stated it is a popular surfing spot and the path ways are also popular with dog walkers and runners. The road is also one of the most frequented riding routes on the sunshine coast and added to this is several holiday apartments that litter the lower skyline. All this adds up to a very busy area so be prepared to arrive a little early to get a premium car spot or be prepared for a long walk if you arrive a little closer to the 7 am start time. The course is run along the well maintained coastal concrete walking paths but be aware that many people use these paths so be on the lookout for an accidental board in your face, or the tripping hazards of dog leads and unaware doting parents with prams.
I suggest that you run south along the walking path to warm up which is ideal for those nervous runners amongst us as there is a newly constructed toilet block just south of the start line. The course that awaits you is relatively flat with only a slight rise that you will need to negotiate twice as the course does a weird ‘paper clip’ double back on itself. Also, be aware of some low hanging branches and a ‘sand trap’ on the course as the beach attempts to fight back against the imposition of human occupation. Apart from these minor issues the course is fast except for the three hair pin turns that slow you to a stop and then you face the mental and physical battle as you attempt to get up to full speed again. Once again it is minor annoyance but this harks back to my comment earlier that this course offers you a PB but it makes you paddle hard to catch it.
Mudjimba has been a happy hunting ground for me. I have run this course 7 times with an average time of 21:49 and a best time of 20:40 and a 6th place on one race where fortunately no one else turned up. I can honestly say that I enjoy all that the course has to offer, from the organizers, to the course design and the people that run it. And while not the biggest park run on the sunshine coast it has boasted a max attendance of 226 and ticks along with an average of 133 runners. In my humble opinion this would be getting close to its critical mass as the path is narrow and the nature of the doubled back course means that congestion could be an issue if numbers grew substantially more than this. The clientele of the race is eclectic mix of tourists, high level athletes on the coast for a training camp and journey men such as myself. Consequently, I would struggle to spot and identify a local at this race as this community blurs the lines on what a local really looks like in a transient beach setting such as this.
I highly recommend that you start the race on the left hand side and hit the accelerator straight away as you are faced with a wicked left-right dog leg and a low hanging branch that wants to remove the head of any runner who decides to have a look around in the first 100 meters. After this hair raising start the course settles into a straight 1100 meter drag race along the concrete path which allows the field a chance to sort themselves out. Be aware of a sand drift about 800m in the course as the beach, sick of the salt spray and beach umbrellas tries to wander into the hinterland for a tree change. It’s not major problem just an opportunity for the course to trip you up and land you on your face if you are unaware.
After the first 1100 meters you will face a ‘tightish’ right hand turn and head into the first leg of the paper clip. If you are at the front of the field it will be a clear run but if you are out for a Saturday morning post bucks party amble I suggest that you keep your heads up as the faster runners will be steaming through on their second loop and their manners can be a little minimal to say the least. When they are running at speed usually the quickest path is usually only a few centimetres from you. Unfortunately, I have shared some unwanted sweat with a front runner and I am saddened to say that I have brushed a little close to another runner as I tried to push beyond my limited skills. For this I apologise in retrospect to the poor young man who inadvertently got an unwanted sweat shower. Even in memory it is as gross as what it was on the day.
The next 3 km of the course is agonizingly spent on the paper clip loop. A 900 m slightly undulating section of the course with a hair pin turn at either end. It is a physical and mental battle as you push up a minor rise, go through a series of chicanes which test your ankle flexibility and tug at your rhythm and melody and don’t get me started on the three hair pin turns which are essentially stop and go penalties boxes. Getting your legs back to full speed is a struggle to say the least. Added to this is the congestion as front runners and back runners meet in the perfect storm along this tight three kilometre section. I highly advise that you keep to the left and only make passing moves if you can see plenty of clear path in front of you.
If you are running this course for a PB I highly recommend that you cool your heals on the second leg of the paper clip. Gather your resources by sucking in some big breaths, checking your form and marking the distance to the runners in front of you. When you hit the third and final hair pin turn I recommend that you ‘build to bust’. You will essentially have 2 kilometres to get to the finish line. The first kilometre will be spent running through the back markers coming the other way. This is always good for motivation and then the final kilometre will be ticking off land marks and hopefully those front markers that spent too many pennies in the first four kilometres as you all propel yourself to the finish line. Look for the speed bump sign as the indicator that you have 200 meters left to wring out everything that is left in the tank.
Mudjimba is an eclectic, earnest course that has enough in it for you to push a PB attempt and enough in terms of course coverage for you to sit back and watch the front runners tussle it out for the lead. It is very motivating seeing and feeling a runner at top speed scream past you. Their feet barely touch the ground. Just the sound of their slightly laboured breathing and the swish of their synthetic running kit. It makes you step back and wonder, ‘what if’. What if I trained more I think I could run as quickly as them? What if I picked up the pace now I think I could finish much stronger for the last three kilometres? And finally, what if instead of walking I break into a jog and finish this park run better than I started.
Combined with the earnest nature of the course is the laid back surfy culture that will put things into perspective for you when you don’t have your best run. Many of the sun bleached and leathered long boarders will talk at length about the waves that they missed just as much as the ones that they made. So take a page from their book, if you have a less than idea run, there is always tomorrow so in the meantime follow their bumper sticker mantra and just “surf and drink coffee.”
Post mortem Coffee Scene
There are two great coffee shops that are a short sore leg shuffle from the finish line. A cigarette paper sits between High tide and Picnic for the quality of their food and coffee. Both offer a perfect perch to sit and soak in the atmosphere of the area. From your vantage point on the corner at High tide you can watch the stream of cyclists scorching past and decide if you would look good in that much lycra. Or you can get a take away coffee at Picnic and walk 50 meters to soak your legs in the cool morning surf. While you are soothing away the pain you can stop and marvel at the skill of the surfers old and young and reflect on whether you should give up your running career and take up surfing instead.
Next week – Brightwater Parkrun
Mudjimba Park Run Stats
Number of events: 40
Number of runners: 1,681
Number of runs: 5,342
Number of first finishers: 40
Number of clubs: 129
Number of PBs: 1,004
Average number of runners per week: 133.6
Average number of runs per runner: 3.2
Biggest Attendance: 226
Average run time: 00:30:52
Total hours run: 0Years 114Days 13Hrs 25Min 17Secs
Total distance run: 26,710km
Female record holder: Beth MCKENZIE - 18:14 - Event 27 (02/03/19)
Male record holder: Max STUDER - 14:51 - Event 26 (23/02/19)
Age graded record holder: Russell JENKINS - 88.49 % - 17:31 - Event 1 (01/09/18)