Markus Mannheim April 18, 2012
Parkrun volunteer organisers Russ and Jessica Jefferys jogging by Lake Ginninderra. Photo: Rohan Thomson
When British couple Russ and Jessica Jefferys moved to Canberra this year, they realised they had stumbled upon a runners' utopia.
The pair, both 28, used to jog regularly through London and the nearby town of Reading, their last home.
But the shift to Australia's bush capital left Mr Jefferys awestruck. ''This is a phenomenal place to run.''
''It's one of the big things the city has going for it: the easy access to the outdoors. Within minutes, you're in fantastic bushland and there are so many great runs to choose from.''
In 1½ weeks, the Jefferys will help stage Canberra's first Parkrun, a growing, global volunteer group that organises weekly five kilometre runs.
Anyone, no matter how fast or fit, can join by registering online. And, crucially, it's free. Runners receive a barcode which is used to time and track them on the Parkrun website.
Mr Jefferys, a marketing manager, said Canberra provided a glut of picturesque options, but the first course would be in Belconnen's John Knight Memorial Park on April 28.
''Lake Ginninderra is perfectly suited. There's a path, a couple of small hills, and it's just so tranquil and beautiful in the morning.''
The runs are now held across six countries, every Saturday at 8am.
He said courses were always five kilometres, which provided a good workout for regular runners but was also easy on those new to jogging. ''Some people walk it and some jog with a pushchair. It's not a race, it's a very social event and we'll go for a coffee afterwards,'' he said.
Mr Jefferys hopes the ACT run will grow to more than 100 regular runners. ''With the appetite for running and outdoor sport that's so strong here in Canberra, I feel this could become one of the larger Parkrun events.''
For more details and to register, visit parkrun.com.au