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Benalla’s first parkrun to take place Saturday

By Simon Ruppert

Benalla will become home to the latest parkrun with the inaugural event being held on Saturday, November 9.

Organisers Di Hobby and Deborah Robinson said despite being just too late to get into the official program, they were keen to run it alongside the Benalla Festival.

“I was very determined to have the launch date coincide with the Benalla Festival,” Ms Robinson said.

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“Unfortunately we missed out on getting in the booklet, but by starting it with the festival it means that our fits anniversary will coincide with next year's festival.

“And we can be an official part of it in 2020.

“Plus we know we get more people into town during the festival and we hope that will help swell our numbers for the first one.”

Parkrun organise free, weekly, 5km timed runs across the world.

They are open to everyone, free, and are safe and easy to take part in.

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These events typically take place in pleasant parkland surroundings and organisers encourage people of every ability to take part; from walkers or those taking their first steps in running to Olympians; from juniors to those with more experience; we welcome you all.

Ms Robinson said it was fantastic to have a date for the first parkrun, as there had been several attempts to start one in Benalla, which had ultimately failed.

"This is my second go at trying to get it up and running, and another group of ladies tried last year, so it looks like its third time lucky,” Ms Robinson said.

“Back in June some of the girls from Benalla Health put a call out to see if there was enough interest.

“That's when Di and I put our hands up to take charge of it.

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“There was a lot of interest, so we helped set it up with Benalla Health and they have helped us fund it.

“Even though it’s a free event, parkrun has an initial start-up cost, which has been a stumbling block in getting it set up in the past.

“So Benalla Health really helped us get over that hurdle.

“Since then its been a lot of meetings and paperwork, but we are excited for Saturday.”

Ms Robinson and Ms Hobby have held several trial runs for locals and out-of-towners to offer advice on the operation of the event and the route it would take.

“The trials were mainly for friends and family,” Ms Robinson said.

“We had quite a few experienced runners there, who tested the track for us and gave us suggestions regarding possible alterations.

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“Rather than just having our opinions, as locals, they brought a fresh pair of eyes to help us fine tune the course.

“A lot of people have assumed that the parkrun will be around the lake.

“However, parkrun have some specific conditions, such as not going over a road or through a car park.

“So we are unable to have just a lap around the lake, but what we've come up with is just as good.”

If you would like to take part in Benalla's first parkrun you will need to register at www.parkrun.com.au

Ms Robinson said for anyone who was not technically savvy, or did not have access to the internet, they could still come along and take part. It just meant their time and record would not be officially recorded.

With the event due to take place weekly, volunteers are also needed in a variety of areas, including manning check-points, taking photographs and keeping records.

“We ask that anyone who regularly takes part puts their hands up to volunteer every now and then,” Ms Robinson said.

● If you would like to volunteer some time to Benalla's parkrun, phone Di Hobby on 0408 440 173.

● To register to take part, or for more information, visit www.parkrun.com.au

● Meet up for the first park run by the rocket in the Benalla Gardens at 7.45am on Saturday, November 9.