Catrina and Barry Crossley: Kiwis on tour

Every day is a Saturday for Catrina and Barry Crossley (A438735 and A309697 respectively).

The New Zealanders are on the road in a motorhome in Australia as “official parkrun tourists”. Every day is Saturday (except when it’s parkrunday of course!).

At the time of writing the duo have run 440 parkruns between them at 85 different events. Not just tourists in New Zealand and Australia, they have also run one in the UK.

While in Australia they are running freedom runs and then logging their official parkruns, a different one each week.

“We find if we really love the course or the area, we will make an effort to get back to run an official parkrun,” says Catrina.  

“Or vice-versa we will use the parkrun as our training runs if we are staying.”

At Marina parkrun in Western Australia
The beginning

Barry found parkrun while training for the 2012 Wellington Half Marathon.

Part of his training took him down Maungaraki onto the riverbank, heading towards Eastbourne. There he saw quite a number of runners heading out to do what he discovered was parkrun.

He spoke to one of the runners and they briefly explained about parkrun and how to join up if he wished.

After his run he looked online and registered immediately and Saturdays were never the same.

It took Catrina a few more months.

“I was NOT a runner, I played hockey and needed to run for fitness, and hated every step,” Catrina says.

“Barry gave up asking me if I wanted to join him for an early start on a Saturday, it was always a definite no. 

“I had had bad experiences running. With having a larger bust, pain in my shoulders, support that would not support, wearing two bras to hold them down (which didn’t always work), shirts that were like tents everywhere except across my chest. Nope, running was not for me!

“Then I had a breast reduction, and my world changed. 

“I was able to run comfortably without pain, had one bra (which worked) and finally the girls were supported! 

“So when I said to Barry ‘ok, I will give this 5km thing a go’, we have basically run parkrun together ever since.”

Barry Crossley at Forster parkrun
First tourist parkrun

The Crossleys first tourism experience was in Auckland at Cornwall Park and was Catrina’s second parkrun.

“Barry had to go Auckland for work, I just tagged along.

“We heard about the different parkrun challenges over our self-imposed mandatory post parkrun breakfast at Lower Hutt.

“We were intrigued, as most are, about how to go about finding them and working out which ones we had achieved.”

She says they were impressed to find that “we, too, were parkrun enthusiasts, but clearly not as much as those who had thought up these challenges”.

“Christmas 2018 and we were holidaying in New Plymouth. As there were no parkruns near us then, we were having a few withdrawal symptoms. 

“Friday night and we were packing up, readying ourselves to return to Wellington from a great few weeks’ break, the following day.

“Another bright idea hit. Why not drive to Palmerston North for parkrun? Reasons to: a) It’s not that far, b) it’s on the way. Reasons not to, we couldn’t think of any. At very much stupid o’clock, I’d thought of one, it is too early!

“It is a three hour drive (at least) so up we got up at 4.30am to make the start line in Palmy, and therein lies the lengths some of us go to, to get to that Saturday morning fix!”

Catrina Crossley at Bunbury parkrun
Overseas running

“One regret was not knowing about the challenges prior to being in England. 

“Barry ran the London marathon in 2015, so while we were there we scoped out the closet parkrun. We could only manage one and went to Gunnersbury. 

“If only we had known about “where it all started” we might have made more of an effort to get to Bushy!”

The pair moved to Sydney when Barry was transferred for work. After a year they bought a motorhome with the idea of completing a lap.

Catrina says parkrun has inspired their travels.

“parkrun has given us a purpose for travelling. We research where we would like to visit, however the very first thing we check is where is the closet parkrun.

“Then we see what other tourist things are around or are near for checking out.  

“We also love mountain biking and hiking so luckily that goes hand in hand with getting our 10,000 steps in a day.

“Since we are currently travelling in the north of WA, there are very few parkruns up there, so when we return to Perth we will clock up a few more different ones.  

“We highly recommend touristing in this way, having the time to do what you want and be where you like is so refreshing.”

Barry Crossley ran his 250th parkrun at Margaret River parkrun
Collecting stories

The pair could probably write a book of their adventures.

They’ve met many parkrunners at breakfast after parkrun.

These people have then shared their experiences and helped shape the Crossleys’ adventures whether it’s been recommending an event or picking them up to get them there.

So which are their favourites?

“Barry would recommend Lower Hutt, the people there are incredibly welcoming and have a real passion for parkrun. There is nothing like running into a howling, freezing southerly to having that very same wind, ‘blow’ you home.

“My favourite was Dolls Point, an out and back along the beach line at Sandringham in Sydney’s south. Great support from volunteers and a lovely view all the way along the path.

“Phillip Island was a favourite for us both, after being there for motorcycle racing, we walked the course, only to return to run it on Saturday. Unusually it is called Phillip Island but it is actually run on Churchill Island.”

At Phillip Island parkrun

One on their bucket list is Kate Reed in Tasmania.

“Kate Reed because the people we met started this parkrun. The inaugural was due to the day of very first lockdown, so they had a huge wait between their soft opening and the actual start day.

“Basically any others that will help us get more challenges.

“We would like to get the Peel challenge, because little did we know we met parkrun royalty at a wee parkrun called Yeldulknie Weir Trail.

“Some guy had on a parkrun shirt that had “Peel” printed on it, I had no idea what it meant, turns out it was Brendan Peel himself.”

“parkrun is great for us as it gives us a purpose to travel, we always check to see whether there is a parkrun near or close to where we are heading. 

“And if there isn’t, whether we can change our plans to get to the 0800h start line.

“We have travelled to parkrun in our 9m motorhome, on our motorbike, by mountain bike. We’ve walked, used public transport, been given rides and used uber.”

Catrina Crossley at Edithburgh parkrun.
Top tips

Here are Catrina and Barry’s tips for travelling this way:

“It is important to be flexible – don’t book too far ahead.

“Take on board people’s recommendations.  

“Trust the apps and websites you use, ie parkrun, wikicamps, (for booking and checking out free camps and campgrounds) fuel map. Also it is important to update these when you can.

“Most of all to quote a famous running gear company “Just Do It”!”

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