The Peel Club’s Brendan Peel

This story originally featured in issue 2 of the Runs With A Barcode magazine.

The man behind the Peel Club name talks to us about events that stand out and how the Peel Club came to be, plus his next goals.

Brendan Peel (A206214) is synonymous with parkrun tourism is Australia but it took him almost a year to run his second parkrun.

His first event was in January 2012 at Albert parkrun, Melbourne, which he found out about from R4YL magazine.

At Kate Reed, Tasmania

“I did it once, waited a year for my second and have hardly missed a day since.”

Brendan lives in Fairfield, Victoria, but he pops up at events all over Australia. He holds territorianship for ACT and Northern Territory, plus statesmanship for Tasmania and Victoria. He’s one short for South Australia (Kangaroo Island).

“Prior to parkrun I had hardly travelled at all.

“New events popped up in all sorts of locations and it was such fun going to as many as I could. Before I knew it I had completed six of the eight states and territories.”

Peel Club origin

“A question popped up on the first incarnation of the Australian parkrun podcast. Alan Burrell, aka the Professor, suggested that whoever was the first to run in every state and territory would have the unofficial club named after them.

At Jubilee Way, South Australia

“At this stage my first in every state were: Albert Melbourne, St Peters, Gungahlin, Launceston and Darwin.

“Manjimup in WA was already booked and I had one left. Out of all the Queensland ones I chose Logan River for the final leg for no other reason than two people I had met on my travels. I met Fiona Edmonds at Launceston parkrun and Sarah Logan at Point Cook, Lilydale Lake and Campelltown.

“Sarah picked me up from the airport and I jogged down to parkrun from my motel with a handful of Logan locals. I got a fuss made of me and had a wonderful day.

“The Peel Club was never talked about too much but as more people started doing more and more events it gets mentioned a lot more and is the aim of a reasonable number of people.”

Like many parkrun tourists Brendan says he has visited a vast number of places thanks to parkrun.

Getting into touring

He’s run at 239 locations (correct at date of publication in April 2021) ranging from Nightcliff to Inverloch, Kalgoorlie-Boulder to The Beaches, seeing places he would never have dreamed of otherwise.

“Out of all my different events I would have been to at least 200 locations I’d never contemplated going to. Before parkrun I hadn’t been to Tassie or the NT at all. I had only been to WA and Queensland once.”

Brendan’s first parkrun as a tourist was a trip to Balyang Sanctuary, St Peter’s was his first interstate trip.

He said deciding to go for statesmanship was easy, as when he started there was only Albert and it was easy to keep up.

His earliest start was 1am for a 450km drive to Mount Gambier.

“Many factors determine where and when I go. Cheap flights and in particular budget airline sales are probably at the top of the list.

“I have a few goals that I loosely follow. I would like to maintain my ACT and NT  territorian status which is reasonably achievable.

At Broken Hill Racecourse

“At the moment I am one short (Kangaroo Island) of SA statesmanship and I recently achieved Tassie Statesmanship with a trip to Whitemark Wharf.

“I will do all Victorian events eventually, while picking up some missing Wilson numbers.”

“I love the first 100 Aussie parkruns video so much that I plan to do them all eventually, I have 28 in Queensland and two in New South Wales to go.

“I must admit I love a good parkrun name having recently run Our Park. Town of Seaside was one I really liked the name of but it is no longer.”

Top Three

Brendan’s top three parkruns are: Shellharbour, Mount Clarence and The Beaches.

“My love of Shellharbour began long before I ran there.

“The “first 100 Aussie parkruns” video showed a glimpse of a beautiful grassed area looking out over the beach and beyond. After seeing the 15 second snapshot I just had to visit very soon.

“The drive down from Sydney through the national park was just superb and after arriving being greeted  by Brendan Scollary and his friendly team was like catching up with old friends.

“As most parkruns are on shared, often concrete, paths a course made up of grass, dirt, gravel and a few hundred metres on sand was one to savour.

“I have been lucky enough to run there again at PALM18 and also do my NSW “Ollie Vollie” leg there as well.

“Mount Clarence is a beautiful coastal out and back course in Albany, WA. Starting at Middleton Beach you start climbing a timber boardwalk for nearly a kilometre before another 1.5km of winding undulating paths.

“Throughout the course you have some splendid views across King George Sound as well as running past some significant military statues.

“Turning around you get to do it again with the highlight being a 1km downhill section on the boardwalk and 50 or so metres on Middleton Beach itself.

“Then there is The Beaches. Wow.

“It was my first trip to Newcastle ever and to be able to do a parkrun on the sand between Bar Beach and Merewether was simply the best. A small handful of us did it in Chariots of Fire costume which was such fun. Luckily it was the location for PALM 19 which was amazing too.

“All three have spectacular views and a variety of surfaces.”

“My main message to anyone who wants to tour is just follow your heart. If there is somewhere you want to go and are able to, just go.

“parkrun tourism doesn’t have to be an expensive luxury world tour as there are wonderful places to visit very close to home (unless you live in Weipa or somewhere equally remote). 

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