All the information about Brightwater 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 Brightwater park run and the suburb that it is run through is eerily akin to the Truman show of the late 1990’s. Just like the dystopian tale of a baby born into a reality television set, the Brightwater park run is a little manufactured in its course design and setting. It’s as if Christof manufactured this park run to mirror the cookie cutter society that Truman would run in if he was a park runner. The course is perfect in every way to the point of being saccharine. This feeling is planted in me right from the point that I park the car and walk across the road and gaze at the idyllic children’s playground with its fluorescent architecturally designed play equipment with a complete lack of graffiti surrounded by manicured lawn and gleaming stainless steel public BBQ’s. This is ‘living at its best’, as a sign unseen to me possibly touts on the entry to this community..
As I do my warm up this feeling of manufactured living is inescapable as I run around the lake which has been constructed as the centerpiece to enable a class structure to thrive and a vista for their garden Buddha’s to peer across 24 hours a day. As I run I am continually struck by the flatness of the area and the perfection of the running surface. I search in vain for a piece of rubbish to taint this utopia I am running through and give me some grittiness to anchor my hopes and aspirations on for this race. I unfortunately love a challenge and through this warm up I am not seeing or feeling any challenge that will pit me against adversity and steel my spine to release a stellar performance. Don’t get me wrong, this course has PB written all over it in neon writing ten foot tall. But short of running you down a hill for 5 kilometer there is not many more ways that the organizers could gift you a PB in their selection of this course. I will cover the course in more detail soon but first lets look at a few general details about the Brightwater course first.
I have done the Brightwater Park run twice. Once when it is a little more interesting and was run out and across a large parkland area before heading into the path around the lake. It changed recently to its current faster configuration which is a circular loop around the lake. I much prefer the original course as it gave the Park run a point of interest and a great final sprint across a grassed playing field. Both versions of the park run are flat and fast but as such it is a popular venue for runners wanting an ‘enhanced’ fast time.
Brightwater has been run for a little over four years and has boasted a maximum attendance of 259 and ticks along with an average of 112 runners. I certainly see this number growing over the years to come as the course has a lot to offer for all levels of running ability due to the placid nature of the course. It is hard to judge the clientele of the race based on my two visits but I got the sense from standing on the start line that there are some serious runners that come to this event to run and run fast as can be seen from the race record which is 14:43.
Let me start by saying you need to stand on the start line and pin your ears back because you are about to travel 5 km possibly faster than you ever have before. As I looked around the field I could see that the people in front of me meant business. This was the first time in my 25 park runs that I saw people creeping forward past the start line to get the best possible advantage. There were nervous leg kicks and jumps into the air like horses before the start of the Melbourne cup. As I surveyed the sight I let out a bemused chuckle and then the starter suddenly released us from the barrier and I was caught slightly off guard and got passed by 5 runners who anticipated the start far better than I did. They were off and I was following!
You will note when or if you have done this course that there are no sharp corners that could possibly slow you down. All change of direction are fast paced sweeping curves designed to gradually change your direction with as little momentum loss as possible being washed from your top speed. As such there is only a few landmarks that stick out as I mentally revise the course. This is a great aspect to this course as you simply need to get into your pain bubble and push it as fast as you can as there are no hills to test your lungs and shorten your stride.
The first kilometre is the tightest and you need to get into some clear space as soon as possible. A series of chicanes and a slight right hand corner and the congestion is the worst you are going to get on this course and it will happen in this first 700 meters. After this initial 700 meter settling period you will do a fast loop around a children’s playground and this will signal the end of a kilometre that will finish much quicker than you realize. I went through this first kilometre in a 3:53 and I wish I didn’t look at my watch because even though I felt great I decided my pace was too quick and I needed to go slower. I should have gone with my gut and kept my intensity at the same level as its easier for the body to wash away time gradually over the distance rather than trying to claw it back at the end of the race.
The second kilometre sees you retrace your path back through the right-hand corner (now left) and the chicanes. Be aware if you are at the front of the race and if it is a congested field you will be running through some of the back-markers trying to complete a passing move. Hasten slowly through this second kilometre because kilometres 3 – 5 are fast and clear sailing.
Kilometre three starts as you pass the eventual finish line. From this point the path opens-up even more and the course becomes quicker if that is possible. This is the time to jockey for position and make your move if you are an endurance based athlete and have a poor final finishing kick. I attempted to make a move in the small pack I was travelling in but it monumentally failed as everyone else seemed to have the same idea as I did. Must have been the path opening up that made people think that they could travel faster. In the end, I managed to barely hold my position after putting in a huge mid race ‘kick’. The consequence was a 3:58 k split and had me thinking back to my decision to slow after my flying start despite feeling so good.
Kilometre four is more of the same as you try and just hold on. The great part of this course is the fact that this is just you against your body, the course is not joining in on this fight. The course is merely the boxing ring, the combatants are your body versus the mind and the course is not going to get in your way at any time. The end of the fourth kilometre is the children playground that you circled around at the end of the first kilometre meaning the final kilometre is slightly technical with a single fast corner and a few chicanes before the final finishing chute. As the playground loomed my watch beeps and I see a 4:06 come up on my watch. I spend the next 200 meters being amazed at how dumb I am when I run as I struggled to do basic additions and subtractions in my head to see what I needed to run to make it under the magical 20 minute mark.
Was that a 4:06 high or low and was my 3:53 high or low? What does that do to my average? Am I feeling okay!? I am doubting that I can run less than a 4:06 for my last kilometre? What if I did a 4:07 what would my average be then?
Why did I have to slow down on that second k? What did I say my average was again?
Before I know it the corner looms and I have 600 meters to go. I try and put in a kick but I forgot I don’t have one. I feel disappointed like the kid on Christmas that asked santa for a GI joe and got a Ken doll instead. Damn that second kilometre. But in the back of my mind I think I have enough to get under the 20 minute mark, it just depends if all of my splits so far have been on the low side of the time rather than the high side.
What was my average again?
As I cross the line I look down and see 20:03. My undies are officially ripped. But this feeling of disappointment is soon replaced with an undercurrent of relief as some part of my psyche still doesn’t want this journey into sub 20 land to be over yet and certainly not on a course like this which is certainly ‘enhanced’ to go fast. I personally don’t feel like I was a sub 20 runner on this day. None of my training runs indicated that this was an option. While I am so happy with an incredible 50 second PB for me, I just didn’t feel that I deserved to be in the sub 20 club just yet. And it was with this slightly despondent feeling of success that I walked to my car and drove home to reflect and write this review.
As can be seen in this blog and my three previous parkrun reviews you will see that I have a slightly peculiar outlook on life and this has been married to a somewhat critical personality. While I find this a negative at times I have been told that my unique perspective can bring a refreshing view on what other would perceive as normal. So with this in mind, my final thoughts on the Brightwater park run can be summarized in one word; saccharine. Just like this chemical sweetening compound the Brightwater parkrun leaves a strangely conflicted taste in your mouth. I can’t complain as I did walk away with a PB of 20:03 which is tantalizingly close to going under the magical 20 minute mark. But even if I did go under this mark I don’t think I would feel that I had earned it. Just like your mother or father doing your assignment for you at school and you walked home with an A in your bag. Is it something that you truly earnt? As I ran I had the feel that this course has been perfectly manicured to give me the best possible experience. The flow on effect of this course perfection is the feel that this course is only slightly more interesting than running a 5000m on a track. It struck me that my ego was being massaged by an overeager concierge who asks far too frequently if there is anything they can do to make your stay more enjoyable.
Brightwater wants to be liked and wants to make sure that you walk away with nothing but positives from your experience and for 99.9% of the population it would do that, but for a slightly neurotic and incredible picky reviewer such as myself I was looking for imperfections which would give Brightwater a uniqueness and quirkiness that would make it more real. In this regards this course left me wanting it to be more than what it was.
As a final point I would suggest, if you are doing the full suite of 7 sunshine coast park runs, that you put this one last so you can finish the Park-hepta-run with a certain PB. It is incredibly fast course. It is pancake flat, and you will be surrounded by high level athletes that will push you to you best performance but it is not a run I would take a visitor from another country to show them the beauty of our country. Brightwater is an engineered community that has given birth to a Park run which reflects the Chistoffian view of utopia community living. I will certainly run it again, but once a year as an ego massage to see how fast I can run an ‘enhanced’ 5 km.
Post mortem Coffee Scene
I didn’t spend much time exploring the coffee culture around Brightwater. I was reliable told that Café Elemento is the place to go and with a rating of 4.4 stars on Google reviews and a long list of positive comments about the friendly staff and pancakes I can only say that I will be checking out this venue next time I shoot for a PB 5 km effort.
Next time – Kawana Parkrun
Brightwater Park Run Stats
Number of events: 245
Number of runners: 4,228
Number of runs: 27,613
Number of first finishers: 163
Number of clubs: 218
Number of PBs: 4,469
Average number of runners per week: 112.7
Average number of runs per runner: 6.5
Biggest Attendance: 259
Average run time: 00:30:31
Total hours run: 1Years 220Days 8Hrs 32Min 27Secs
Total distance run: 138,065km
Female record holder: Jenny NESBITT - 16:14 - Event 178 (31/03/18)
Male record holder: Max STUDER - 14:43 - Event 222 (19/01/19)
Age graded record holder: Albert BORZILLO - 92.2 % - 17:06 - Event 140 (08/07/17)