The alarm doesn’t sound great at 4.15 am, particularly when its Sunday. Usually this had meant it was a race morning with a 7am-ish start time. Over the past four years it increasingly means ‘event day’. The culmination of months of planning as I (and others) deliver one of the 11 RunNSW fun run events held around the state. It’s a passion and a job I am grateful for. While the 4:15 am alarm is indeed rude my choices alone have led me here otherwise known as;

“You’ve made your bed now you can lay in it!”

The Parkes Fun Run is 4 years old today, it’s a partnership between Athletics NSW and the local Rotary Club. The focus on this year’s event is more intense with my naming for Rio only 10 days ago and Parkes being my home town.

Today’s event will also be a chance to stretch my legs in the 5k run and then try to keep up with the kids in the 2k race. Amazingly there are double the number of kids lining up this year and they must have been a sight charging off from the start line in this team sports mad town.

My first ever fun run experience was at the Parkes Easter Fun Run back in 1985. I was in a team with good mates Aaron Huppatz, Greg Ballantyne and James Campesi. All of us were aged 9 and were there to represent our primary school, not in the kids race but in the ‘one size fits all’ 8k. It was a long way for kids, starting at Cooke Park then heading down the main street out of town along the Orange road. From memory the only safety instruction was to run on the left and allow the cars to go around on the right!

Risks aside, that day was fantastic and covering 8km a thrill. I remember dad completing the run with us but pulled up the worst by far. Aaron, Greg, James and I absorbed the challenge while he complained of having soreness for days afterwards!

This fun run was to be the first of many and one of the two activities that kept me interested in running during my childhood and adolescence, the other being school cross country. Country fun runs were great because I could match it against older kids and adults and usually pick up some sort of terrific prize should I win my age category.  Eskys, picnic sets, pocket radios and blenders were all examples of such rewards. The slightly benevolent Orange Fun Run once yielded a hoodie a AND a two night stay at Kings Cross for a couple with flights fully paid for. I kindly donated this prize to mum and dad.

On another occasion whilst studying at UNE my housemate, Karl Graml and I, drove through the night after attending a wedding in order to race the Bathurst Edgell Jog. The race featured an excellent cash prize pool which I had spent before even toeing the start line! In finishing 4th due to the attendance of Sean Williams, Colin James and Paul Aurthur I was asked to examine my motivations. Nursing my shiny new Breville milk shake maker all the way back to Armidale the message was clear. And it wasn’t “drink more milk!”

*Picture above from Melanie Pearce of ABC Central West