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Which Canberra Parkrun is for you?

Because of the busy schedules and financial troubles that come with attending university, it can often be hard for students to find the time and the money to keep up their fitness. Thankfully, the ACT Government has partnered up with Parkrun Australia to give Canberra five different parkruns, all of which are available to people of any age and gender at eight in the morning every Saturday.

For those unaware, a parkrun is a five kilometre run completely free of charge where it’s just you against the clock. Jordan McSweeney visited five of the most popular parkruns across the territory to give you a rundown of what to expect from each.

Burley Griffin Parkrun

Perhaps the most beautiful run out of the five, the Burley Griffin Parkrun, with its gorgeous mix of sun and shade, is tailor-made for those looking for the kinds of views the gym simply can’t offer. It’s also the ideal option for students with young children or siblings, as there’s a great playground nearby that’ll keep the little ones thoroughly entertained.

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There are also no issues with overcrowding, as the run provides plenty of space to run free without the worry of bumping into someone else. The run has just the right number of uphills and downhills, which makes it perfect for beginners and those who aren’t sold on the idea of parkruns.

Gungahlin Parkrun

The Gungahlin Parkrun, which takes place at Yerrabi Pond, is the flattest course of the five, which makes it perfect for prams and therefore, students with babies.

A crowd gathers at Gungahlin. Photo credit: Jordan McSweeney

There’s also plenty of bird life to not only look at as you run but also listen to. Their pleasant tunes provide a calming and peaceful backdrop that can really help you soak in the tranquillity of your surroundings. Although, one girl did proclaim to her friend that she wishes “they would shut up” as the pair jogged past me, so maybe the birds aren’t for everyone.

This run also seems to be very popular with dog owners, so if you’re looking for some buddies for your four-legged friend to play with, this is the run for you. Even more enticing is the several high-quality cafés in the area, so if you have trouble with resisting the temptation of putting back on the calories you just burnt, you may want to avoid this one.

Queanbeyan Parkrun

Located at Queanbeyan River, this parkrun will test your limits far more than the others due to its challenging number of hills. If you’re relatively unfit like me, then you’ll definitely be left gasping for air by the end.

Thankfully, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. An interesting blend of flowers and railway scenery will keep your eyes engaged but if hills really aren’t your thing, then you should consider giving this one a miss, no matter how beautifully haunting the run looks when there’s a bit of fog around. If you’re looking for a challenge, however, the Queanbeyan Parkrun is right up your alley.

Ginninderra Parkrun

Ginninderra. Photo credit: Jordan McSweeney

The first thing you notice at the Ginninderra Parkrun, held at the John Knight Memorial Park, is the welcoming atmosphere. No matter your fitness level, you can almost always find another runner or walker of the same ability who will strike up a chat. If you’ve got friends who aren’t interested in exercise, then this is the perfect run to make some who are.

The Ginninderra Parkrun is also the course where you can experience the nature of Canberra in full force. From sharing the run alongside kangaroos to the countless ducks, geese and swans, this is the ideal run for the city’s animal lovers.

Lake Tuggeranong Parkrun

Out of the five parkruns, I found this one to have the most community spirit. This is not to say that the others don’t have a similar feeling but on Lake Tuggeranong, the colours seem to be just a little brighter and the laughter just a little louder.

The range of runners and walkers also seemed more diverse, too. From school kids to 70-year-olds, all ages came together and encouraged each other to reach their shared goal of the finish line. “Keep it up, buddy”, I remember a passer-by in his 50s telling me.  All of this led to the development of a strong sense of camaraderie and if that’s something you consider important when exercising, then this is the parkrun for you.

Also, if you’re into yoga, keep your eyes peeled for a lovely lady who often wanders around afterwards offering free sessions.

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