The Pallara parkrun celebrated its fifth anniversary in July, and with a growing suburb, needs volunteers to help out its weekly events now more than ever.
The five kilometre circuit runs through Pallara Park on the corner of Gooderham and Brookbent Road, and is open to the public every Saturday at 7 am.
The Pallara parkrun was started by Peter Woolf in late 2018, and quickly grew in popularity. “I was living in Heathwood at the time. My kids were going to Pallara primary school and my wife was a teacher there,” Peter said.
“I only ran it for the first three years, before handing it off to Brian Keller. The nearby Calamvale parkrun had already done a lot for my mental health and growing the community, so I was keen to bring that to Pallara.
“One of the biggest things parkrun does is bring that sense of community, with people rocking up every Saturday, having a chat. It’s a good way to start the weekend.”
As with all parkruns, almost no physical fitness levels are required to come along, participation is possible for almost everyone.
On the day, the event is coordinated by a team of seven to ten volunteers, who record participants’ time, hand out and scan tokens, and tail the walkers to ensure safety, led by Event Director Brian Keller.
Brian himself is an avid parkrunner, being very familiar with the various local parkruns, and even planning his holidays around the international variants of the weekend event.
“I’ve been to about 110 parkruns in Pallara. [Pallara] isn’t my closest parkrun, but after trying it out a few times and finding the team very friendly, I went back a few more times, started volunteering, and the next thing I knew, I was there as one of the regulars,” he said.
Although relatively small compared to neighbouring parkruns with roughly 40 people participating each week, the Pallara parkrun has seen up to 300 people participate in community events like its New Year’s Day Double and birthdays.
“Our fourth and fifth birthday events had about 100 people each, which was helped by advertising and encouraging special dress ups, with silly hats and socks to celebrate and add colour to the community.
“One thing Pallara lacks, that most parkruns have, is a coffee shop that participants can visit together after the run, but that’ll change soon.
“When I was starting out at Pallara, there were hardly any houses at all. Now that it’s growing a lot, more people are coming along,” Brian said.
Despite the community benefits that come with a growing number of participants, an increase in parkrunners means a greater need for volunteers.
“I think it gives you a sense of giving back, and a sense of community,” Brian said.
“I’ve really got to know a lot of the people there now. You go for a parkrun and see a whole lot of familiar faces saying hello.
“It makes the run more enjoyable too, to have a bit of friendly competition with those who run a similar time to you,” he said.
The run is based entirely on community and passion, as the international parkrun organisation has strongly discouraged any prizes or giveaways.
“It’s just a nice community event – no pressure, no hassle. No matter your religion or colour of your skin, we just want you to turn up.
“There’s no pressure to run fast, and we certainly don’t want people pressuring you into buying things,” Brian said.
“It’s an hour of your time to volunteer – maybe an hour and five minutes. For many of the roles, you don’t need anything but a phone with the parkrun app on it.
“I remember I was scared of volunteering. I would think ‘what if I make a mistake, and everyone loses their time’, and that’s what most people fear.
I remember seeing one of the organisers at the time’s kids keeping track of time and thought ‘well if a kid can do it, so can I,” he said.
The parkrun is held at 7am in Pallara Park. For more information, contact the Pallara parkrun team on their Facebook Page at facebook.com/pallaraparkrun