by Pam McKay
RUNNING: The city's Botanic Gardens took on an Hawaiian flavour on Saturday as a record 427 participants hit the course to mark Rockhampton parkrun's first birthday.
A host of entrants embraced the Hawaiian theme, donning brightly coloured shirts, grass skirts and leis to greet the start of the free weekly 5km timed run.
Fourteen-year-old Jayden Mills, a parkrun regular, led the field home in a personal best time of 18.18 minutes.
PHOTO GALLERY BELOW
Event co-ordinator Craig McCormack was thrilled at the turnout, and said it had been absolutely great to watch the growth of the event over the past 12 months.
"The most rewarding aspect for me has been seeing so many people deciding to do something positive for themselves,” he said.
"Everyone's doing it for their own reasons. A lot of them want a bit of a hit-out, others just need a nice safe environment where they can be part of something bigger.
"It's really hard to run on your own... but when you've got a group of people you can come out and enjoy the morning with, the 5km really just ticks by without you noticing. Before you know it, you've done your 5km and you feel fantastic.
"People just need to make this part of their weekly routine. It's a really good way to start the weekend.”
Craig said he wanted to introduce Rockhampton to parkrun, a "wonderful institution” that gives people of all ages and fitness levels the chance to take part.
"It's pretty hard to top this,” he said when asked to nominate a highlight of the year.
"The numbers aren't as crucial but what they do represent is that people are getting some benefit from it and they are prepared to come back.”
Kylie Parker took part in the first Rockhampton parkrun and was there to celebrate the first birthday as well.
"I just like the sense of community. It's really inclusive, everybody comes out and it's lots of fun getting fit together,” she said.
"I was here for the very first parkrun. I've got friends who do it in other places so I was keen when Rocky started having their own parkrun so I came along with Mel (Bennett).
"We've probably done close to 20 now. We know it's on every week and come when we can.”
Rockhampton parkrun is held at 7am every Saturday. For information, visit the Facebook page.