Mr Snell, my year 7 Geography teacher, once related a story about urban sprawl. The story had a punch line where a family realise their rural isolation is gone when new neighbours move in and the gentleman turns to his wife and declares;

“Oh well, there goes the neighbourhood!”

This was wasted humour on a bunch of 12 year olds and the silence deafening until my friend, Alister Berkley, decided someone needed to cut Mr Snell some slack and burst out laughing. Soon the whole class was in hysterics and the moment locked in our memory forever. Well mine at least.

Since returning from a three-year stint in Canberra from 2002-2004 I returned to Newcastle with a new found fondness of trails and bike paths. As luck would have it the Carrington trail was a convenient crushed granite trail around the spectacular Throsby Waters, a continuation of the upper reaches of Newcastle harbour. People do swim in there but its not recommended owing to bull sharks and shopping trolleys.

Since 2005 the Carrington trail became a favourite training location with an outstanding out and back mile loop or 800m approx. in one direction. Today’s workout was a variation of an oldie but a goodie.

Mile reps are good but can get a little monotonous, particularly to the uninitiated. Since our Tuesday morning session is increasing in popularity we try to keep it interesting. By breaking up the miles with 2 x 800m reps (a broken mile) everyone gets the chance to either regain their rhythm or to increase their pace over the shorter distance and run the next mile rep with better economy. My workout today was mile, 2×800, mile, 2×800, mile. In total running 5 miles or 8km at an intense effort. The weather was fine, the trail in good condition and the watch reading some nice numbers. Our little training group of a dozen or so have the trail to ourselves. Not so on Saturday.

Since Saturday the 9th of June 2012 the Carrington Trail has played host to Newy parkrun. The concept was brought to Newcastle through the passion of Dave Robertson who had reported of this thing that was all over the UK and completely free for participants. It was too good to be true and after much lobbying Robbo got Newy parkrun off the ground with 79 runners on 9/6/2012. Since that day 12,000 runners have joined Newy parkrun, it has the record attendance of any parkrun in the southern hemisphere with 998 and can lay claim to having kick started a revival of recreational running in the lower Hunter.

So if I was to head out to the Carrington trail and try to complete a mile session on a Saturday morning there is a fair chance that 500 runners would be there, racing, running, jogging, pushing and walking their way through their weekly 5k parkrun.

While some folks may say; “Oh well, there goes the neighbourhood”

I for one, think it’s a great thing!

(Picture above: Carrington Trail with parkrun participants. Photo courtesy of Newy parkrun Facebook)