TOC from sunny Inverloch

Long-time listeners of the parkrun Adventurers podcast will know the name TOC.

Also known as Tony O’Connell from “Sunny Inverloch” TOC has been a parkrun tourist from the very beginning.

He and his wife Jacqui live in Cape Paterson, Victoria, but his first parkrun experience happened in New South Wales at Merimbula on December 28 2013.

“The year 2013 was a real journey for me,” he says.

“I signed up to an Improvement challenge at a gym and lost 40kg in about 20 weeks.

“At 48 years old, for the first time in my life I started to run and got really addicted to bootcamps.

“We were going away for Christmas to New South Wales and my wife Jacqui was looking for activities to keep me busy.

“She signed me up to parkrun!!

“I ran at Merimbula and absolutely loved it.

“This started on again, off again trips to parkrun as my nearest was over 90 minutes away. I decided we needed one closer and got involved with setting Inverloch parkrun up in 2014.”


Four months after Inverloch’s launch TOC’s passion for parkrun resulted in a Territory Director’s role within parkrun Australia.

“It has been a massive privilege to be able to help guide many events in Victoria towards their launch.

“parkrun has become such an important and ingrained part of our lives, I wish I had got involved earlier.”

He’s certainly making up for it! TOC was bitten by the parkrun bug quickly and had already been adventuring before Inverloch was established.

Going on further flung adventures was the next step.

“Two months after Inverloch launched we flew to Queensland to do Calamvale’s launch as this was the 100th parkrun to launch in Australia and it seemed like the thing to do.

“We also went to Railton in Tasmania as the 250th Australian event.

“From there the challenges started to land at my feet – I was the 13th person to reach the Peel Club, running every state and territory in Australia and was the 160th person in the world to reach the Alphabet Club.”

TOC says many adventures have started at “stupid o’clock”.

“One of our earliest starts was heading to Nhill parkrun in western Victoria.

“We were staying in the Grampians and had done all the surrounding events, so thought why not drive a bit further and complete a new event.

“Bev and the team made us feel most welcome and even brought tupperware full of cake to the event.

“We regularly leave home at “stupid o’clock” to drive to a parkrun. This is often around 5am.”

A freedom run at Sandgate during PALM2021

parkrun adventures overseas

As well as travels around Australia, TOC has also had international adventures.

“The furthest we have travelled to do a parkrun was to Taman Pudu Ulu in Malaysia.

“It was an incredible experience. Harry, a local in Kuala Lumpur, collected us from our motel in the morning and took us to parkrun.

“He took us out to breakfast then spent the day driving us around Kuala Lumpur. He showed us both the tourist sites, but more importantly the sites that the locals like to visit, that don’t appear in any tour guide.

“This was such an incredible experience.”

Tony and Jacqui With Harry

TOC says his highlights are all to do with the people he’s encountered along the way.

“While many parkruns are spectacular for their views, the waterways or a myriad of other reasons the highlight of parkrun is the people.

“Whether it’s meeting up with old friends at our annual PALM get-togethers, catching up with friends at coffee or just meeting new people before, after and during parkrun.

“We have been fortunate to visit some incredible locations but deep down it all comes back to the conversations held and the friends met – whether old or new.

“A large part of our travels have been to spend either a weekend, or even longer in smaller towns and explore the region.

“It would be fair to say we would not have been to many of these towns without the lure of parkrun.”

Top 3

TOC’s top three take in three different states.

“Inverloch has to be my top recommendation. Meeting at the Stump the course runs a double out and back along the seashore with views to Bass Strait and Andersons Inlet.

“I love the out and back format as the faster runners and the slower finishers get to interact. It has a good car park close to the start line and all of the facilities needed.

“Kate Reed in Launceston, Tasmania is probably my favourite parkrun course to run on.

“It has some great challenging hills, lots of single trail goodness and is a very runnable trail. Who doesn’t love hills, mud, rock hopping and an uphill finish?

“Picking a number three is so tough with so many brilliant parkruns around. An honorable mention to The Beaches but I have to give it to Nambour parkrun.

“Where else can you have an up close experience with a wild emu after bombing up and down some loose gravelly trails with a creek crossing.

“This was the most challenging of all the parkrun locations I have done, and I love a challenge!”

Bucket list

Bucket list events also offer up some challenges.

“Events like Mundy Regional in Western Australia, Anstey Hill in South Australia and Victory Trail in Queensland.

“I really like the trail type events, and if they have hills, even better.

“Overseas I would love to do Bushy, just because!

“As well as Piggly Wiggly parkrun and Cannibals Cave parkrun in South Africa because the names sound so cool.”

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