Crossing the Finish Line: Fun Walking Not Running Tour
In late 2016, I came up with the idea of doing a Fun Walking Not Running Tour as I was 26 years old, had fully embraced fun running (walking) and realised I have never travelled on my own before, and decided to hit two birds with one stone.
I made the decision to do at least one fun run in every state and territory, I even had some in mind, although most of the ones I planned on doing, I didn’t end up doing, which isn’t a bad thing.
My initial plan was to leave the Central and Western states and territory last, however this changed over time when I came across fun runs I thought were too good to pass up.
The first fun run I completed as part of my Fun Walking Not Running Tour was the Illawarra Memory Walk & Jog on 26 February 2017. There were three distances that participants could complete: 7.5km run, 6.5km walk and a 2km walk, I chose to complete the 2km walk.
One thing that stood out about this fun run to me was the colour theme. The colour theme was yellow, with a large number of participants wearing yellow shirts. These shirts provided a moving, poignant and powerful moment for me during the fun run. The footpath to the Continental Pools curved slightly and you could get a decent and long view of the footpath because of it. With the large number of participants wearing their yellow shirts on the footpath, it was basically a sea of yellow and a powerful symbol of the participants’ commitment to the worthy cause of raising money for Alzheimer’s Australia. I was so moved that I felt compelled to take a picture, which you can find below:
My walk wasn’t timed by the officials, so I wore my stopwatch and timed myself. I finished at 24 minutes and 59 seconds—a little slower than usual, but this was due to being held back by families walking at a slower pace.
Choosing a Wollongong fun run to be my NSW run for the Tour was a little bit of a cheat as I was living there at the time, but it still met my requirements.
The next run I planned on doing was the Alice Springs Running Festival, however I decided not long after completing the Wollongong run to fit the QLD run in—the Mother’s Day Classic in Brisbane.
The Mother’s Day Classic in Brisbane was held on 12 May 2017. This fun run was my first interstate run as part of the Tour. The Mother’s Day Classic is a national fun run and walk that raises money for breast cancer research. The distances for the Mother’s Day Classic vary in each location, however in the 2017 Brisbane Classic, there were two distances that participants could complete: 4.5km walk or run and an 8km walk or run. I chose to complete the 4.5km walk, which was mostly based in South Bank.
Much like the Illawarra Memory Walk & Jog, the Mother’s Day Classic also had a colour theme, pink. A large number of participants including myself were wearing the colour in one form or another, myself included. I also timed myself with this fun run, as only the runners were timed. I finished at 54 minutes and 17 seconds—a minute over my training times, this was due to people mucking around doing handstands and other tricks at the finish line.
As I was doing the Tour to not only accomplish my fun running (walking) goals but also to travel, I organised to see some sites for the three days I was there. Some of the sites I saw included the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and the Wheel of Brisbane, which I enjoyed very much. I loved my trip to Brisbane, I count it as one of my favourites.
The next fun run as part of my Tour was the Alice Springs Running Festival on 20 August 2017. The Festival has been described as “the Red Centre’s pinnacle running event, held on the third Sunday in August.” The Festival consisted of four distances: a marathon, a half-marathon, 10km and 5km. I chose to complete the 5km distance, which was a loop around the Todd River, finishing on the lawns of the Alice Springs Convention Centre.
Unlike the previous two funs I was actually timed for the Festival. I finished at 55 minutes and 22 seconds—one minute and 26 seconds faster than my training times. This was a pleasant surprise and not to mention fun as I was able to ring a bell at the finish line, which was there for people to ring if they had achieved their personal bests. I also remember being disappointed that there were no finisher’s medals for the 5km participants as the organisers went to the effort to have medals made for the other participants and they even had some left over.
In terms of the sites I went to see, I went on a “Town Like Alice” tour, seeing the School of the Air, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, a Reptile Centre, and the Telegraph Station. I also went on a one-day Uluru tour prior to leaving, which was incredible.
The NT leg of the Tour was by far my favourite.
The next leg of the Tour was the Victorian leg, the Melbourne Marathon Festival.
The Melbourne Marathon Festival consisted of five distances: a marathon, a half-marathon, a 10km run, a 5.7km run and a 3km walk. I completed the 3km walk (a shorter distance than the previous runs) on 15 October 2017.
The run started near Rod Laver Arena and concluded on the turf of the MCG. This fun run didn’t go smoothly for me as it started later than anticipated and I got a little sunburnt as a result, and despite having a timing chip on the back of my bib, I wasn’t actually timed. To add to the timing issue, I was also timing myself, however I stopped the stopwatch on my phone prematurely as I mistakenly believed I had crossed the finish line. Despite these issues, the Melbourne Marathon Festival was another favourite fun run of the Tour and I loved walking on the MCG.
In regards to the sites I had seen during my Melbourne trip, I went on a Puff n’ City tour—a tour on the Puffing Billy train, spending some time in Sassafras, and a tour of the city. I also visited the Melbourne Aquarium.
A month later I completed my final Fun Walking Not Running Tour run for 2017 in Canberra.
My ACT run was Run 3 of the Resolution Run Series. The Resolution Run Series was a series of three fun runs held in Canberra throughout the year, with the aim of raising funds for and awareness of various men’s health issues. The run I went on raised funds for and awareness of prostate cancer.
The Resolution Run Series consisted of six distances—a marathon, a half-marathon, a 14km run, a 7.3km run, a 3km run and an 800m kids dash. I chose to complete the 3km run (walk) on 12 November 2017.
Similarly to the Melbourne Marathon Festival, the run had a late start at 10am. I nearly missed it due to having to find the start line, fit in breakfast and grabbing headphones from my motel room to listen to music during the walk (in hindsight I should have remembered to grab them on my way out). Nevertheless I made it (just).
Most of the run was around Lake Tuggeranong and with this run, the timing chip on the back of my bib was actually timing me. Unfortunately due to my frantic running around before the start of the run, I ended up with a time of 40 minutes and 16 seconds, my worst on record for this distance, more than five minutes slower than my then-personal best.
With this trip, as my parents only live three hours away from Canberra, they travelled up to see me on the Saturday. I went to the Remembrance Day service at the Australian War Memorial on Saturday morning and they met me there. We spent the afternoon at Old Parliament House before having dinner at the restaurant next door to the motel I was staying at. On Sunday afternoon, I visited the Royal Australian Mint. This trip was also the first and only Tour trip I took by bus.
My next Fun Walking Not Running Tour trip was the only one I took in 2018, my WA trip to complete the Step Up for MSWA.
Step Up for MSWA is a stair climbing event at Perth’s tallest building, Central Park Tower. Central Park Tower is 53 storeys high and Step Up for MSWA raises money for MSWA, who support those in Western Australia with neurological conditions.
The Step Up for MSWA consisted of three climb options: One Up (going up all 53 flights/1,103 stairs), Double Up (going up Central Park Tower twice—106 flights/2,206 stairs and for runners only), and the Mini Climb (20 flights/435 stairs). I chose to complete the Mini Climb on 17 June 2018.
The Mini Climb started on level 33, although we were set up to start in groups, with my start scheduled for 10.10am, we ended up starting much earlier as I think there were less Mini Climbers than anticipated.
Despite training for a couple of months, I found my first stair climb to be harder than I anticipated. Two to three flights in and I was already out of breath, this ended up continuing every third flight or so. At one point a paramedic (there was one on every fourth flight) asked me if I was okay (I was). When I turned around at one point after catching my breath, I saw a woman behind me with her hand on her chest and I asked her if she was okay (she was). Even the One Ups were having trouble at one point or another, it was good to know that I wasn’t the only one struggling on occasion.
The Mini Climb wasn’t timed so I wore my sports watch on the day and I climbed the 20 flights/435 stairs in 12 minutes and 33 seconds, beating my personal best. The Step Up for MSWA finished on the roof of the Central Park Tower. I got a nice finisher’s medal and the experience of the best view of Perth.
In terms of site seeing, I took a tour of the Bell Tower and even rung the bell! I also took a Swan River Cruise, went to the Perth Mint, took two free buses around town, and wandered around town by foot. While I initially planned to leave WA until last due to its distance, when I came across the Step Up for MSWA, I felt a stair climb was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
My next run was Run Devonport.
Run Devonport is a family focused event where everyone can participate. It’s non-competitive and affordable for families. Run Devonport 2019 was held at Mersey Bluff, near the Devonport Surf Life Saving Club on 17 March 2019. There were four distances that participants could complete: 1km, 2.5km, 5km and 10km. I chose to complete the 5km distance.
The course was unique as it wasn’t a complete loop, probably more of an infinity symbol shape. I completed the run in 1 hour, 2 minutes and 2 seconds. I was happy with this time as it was within par to my then-current pace and training sessions, and I also had the common cold and the sniffles slowed me down a little. I was a little irritated when I was a few feet away from the finish line and was asked to stop for a few moments to allow a participant in another category cross the finish line as they were coming first, which meant I was slowed down unnecessarily. Despite this, and as I said, I was still happy with my time.
In regards to the site seeing aspect of my trip, I wasn’t as organised as my previous trips. While I had ideas of what I would see and do prior to leaving, I didn’t actually book anything and even took pamphlets from the motel reception area for ideas. I ended up walking up to see the Mersey Bluff Lighthouse, I also visited the Bass Strait Maritime Centre where I sailed a boat virtually, I also visited the House of Anvers, watched chocolate being made and bought some home with me (including Butterscotch Fudge, which the cabbie who drove me there recommended). I also visited Roundhouse Park. My Devonport trip was also the only trip I travelled to and from using multiple modes of transport—planes to get there, and the Spirit of Tasmania and a train to get back. I had never travelled on the Spirit of Tasmania before and I enjoyed it, however I would have enjoyed it more if I travelled on it earlier at night (we didn’t set sail until 9.30pm) or during the day.
My final fun run for the Tour was the Mother’s Day Classic in Adelaide.
As mentioned earlier, when I spoke about my participation in the Mother’s Day Classic in Brisbane two years earlier, this run is a national fun run and walk that raises money for breast cancer research.
This Classic Run had different distances for participants to complete than the 2017 Brisbane run: a 2.1km walk, a 4.5km walk and run, and a 7.4km walk and run. I chose to complete the 4.5km walk. The run started and concluded in Peace Park and I completed it in 50 minutes and 50 seconds, I was happy with this time as I finished in under an hour.
In terms of site seeing in Adelaide, I went on an Adelaide City Highlights tour, I spent a day at the Adelaide Zoo, I went to see Port Adelaide and Adelaide play each other (I was so happy that I finally managed to see an AFL game on my Tour), and I did a tour of Adelaide Oval. I loved every single bit of my site seeing in Adelaide.
I completed my Fun Walking Not Running Tour in 2 years, 2 months and 17 days and it was the best 2 years, 2 months and 17 days of my life. The Tour was one of the best ideas of my life and I had the time of my life on Tour. I learnt how to travel and site see on my own, I saw sites and had experiences I never imagined I would, and I manage to find a unique way to maintain my hobby. I actually loved it so much that I am planning on doing an international tour throughout my thirties.
If anyone reading this is thinking of embarking on a similar journey with their hobbies and/or sports they play, I say go for it.
The sites I saw and the experiences I had on my Fun Walking Not Running Tour included but were not limited to:
- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
- Wheel of Brisbane
- Queensland Museum
- Alice Springs School of the Air
- Alice Springs Telegraph Station
- The Royal Flying Doctor Service
- ANZAC Hill
- Alice Springs Reptile Centre
- Dandenong Ranges National Park
- Sherbrooke Forest
- Belgrave to Menzies Creek (via the Puffing Billy train)
- The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
- St Kilda
- Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
- Brighton Bathing Boxes
- The Australian War Memorial
- Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House
- The Royal Australian Mint
- Swan River
- The Bell Tower
- The Perth Mint
- House of Anvers
- Roundhouse Park
- Bass Strait Maritime Centre
- Mersey Bluff Lighthouse
- Spirit of Tasmania
- Adelaide Zoo
- Adelaide City
- Haigh’s Chocolates
- Adelaide Oval
- Port Adelaide vs Adelaide AFL game (11 May 2019)