Event Profile

Coombs parkrun

Coombs parkrun Event Director Tim Grainger describes Canberra as a hidden treasure – and not just for its seven parkrun events.

There’s plenty on offer for visitors of all persuasions, but start your weekend with a parkrun.

Coombs parkrun is one of the ACT’s smaller events, with an average of 109 finishers since it launched on March 17 2018.

At the launch event there were 260 finishers and 20 volunteers.

“Like any other parkrun, Coombs is all about community,” Tim says.

“It’s one of Canberra’s smaller events, so participants don’t feel lost in the crowd, and will generally always find a familiar face. There’s a real sense of inclusion, acceptance and belonging for everyone.

“As a relatively young event in a new suburb of Canberra, Coombs has been built on accessibility, inclusiveness and encouragement for all participants – regardless of whether they’re young or old, fast or slow, running or walking, or the number of parkruns they’ve done.

“Above all, it’s about having fun and providing an opportunity to end the week – and start the weekend – with positive vibes and smiles all around.”

About Coombs

Tim says Coombs came about following significant growth of parkrun across Canberra and demand for an additional event in Canberra’s south-western suburbs.

“Add a small working party, local stakeholder engagement and a very generous (albeit anonymous) financial backer, and Coombs was up running, jogging and walking.

“Beyond a great sense of community, Coombs is a really enjoyable course.

“It’s an out-and-back that follows the Murrumbidgee River, with just enough undulations to make it challenging but not overwhelming for those new to parkrun or in the early stages of their fitness journey.

“There’s a mix of paved and unpaved paths, and plenty of space for walkers, doggos and parents with prams.”

He says first timers say they feel like they’ve been part of the Coombs family for much longer.

Tim’s background

Tim started parkrunning in 2014 and at the time of writing (during ACT’s parkrun pause) he sits on 200 events and 54 volunteers.

He’s run in Canada, USA and New Zealand and at 15 Australian events, including six of the seven in ACT (only missing Wagi Bridge).

“I found parkrun – and got into it – through a colleague who casually mentioned it during a staff function.

“Ironically, she wasn’t a runner, and that was early 2014, so it shows you how much of a thing parkrun was even back then.

“I did my first event and really enjoyed it.

“While I was a fairly regular runner, and had been working on getting faster/longer/etc, I’ve never really liked the competitive nature of organised events.

“That’s especially so for running races, where getting people to talk about anything, except running, was near impossible.

“Of course, getting people to talk about anything except parkrun remains near impossible.

“parkrun provided a good means to work on speed and time, without the attitude I often found at other competitive events.”


“After a few weeks, and getting to know other regulars, it quickly became a terrific means of distraction from the grind of Monday to Friday.

“I’ve made some close friends through parkrun, seen several professional and romantic relationships blossom, and been lucky enough to enjoy that in locations across Australia and around the world.

“I think the number of parkrun events in Canberra is about right.

“We’ve struck a balance where each event now has its own unique feel, and a critical mass to support it – both in the regular number of participants, and most importantly, volunteers.”

Tim says post-parkrun coffee is held at a number of places and there are many options for visitors.

“In the spirit of parkrun being impartial and apolitical, we’ll refrain from any recommendations beyond saying they’re all very good!”

While at Coombs parkrun

Canberra is a hidden treasure for visitors to Australia. Canberra is often overlooked in the shadow of the bigger cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

But it offers some of the country’s best cultural institutions (including the National Gallery of Australia, the National Museum of Australia and host of others).

There’s also great and varied dining, and no end of running, riding and cycling options for those who like being outdoors.

There’s a reason we’re called the Bush Capital!

-Tim Grainger

What’s in a Name…

Coombs parkrun is named for the Canberra suburb in which it is located.

The suburb honours HC “Nugget” Coombs, a prominent public servant, economist, and the first Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia.

This profile originally featured in Issue 7 of the Runs With A Barcode magazine.

Event Profile

Mount Ainslie parkrun

Mount Ainslie is known in Canberra parkrun circles as being the only trail parkrun in the territory.

It’s also known for its kangaroos, which have been making their mark since the first event in April 2018.

Co-Event Director Kate Potter says one of the faster runners at that inaugural was taken out by a kangaroo hopping across the track.

“We have kangaroos all the time. Part of our briefing is to keep an eye out for them.”

Kate and her co-ED Ed Hutchinson took over the reins in June, though they have both been parkrunning a number of years.

Their daughters are school friends and thanks to that friendship Kate has made parkrun a big part of her life.

“Ed and I have been running regularly at Mount Ainslie since it started.

“Ed and I are old friends because our kids are at the same school.

“We started parkrun to build everyone’s fitness for snowsports and parkrun quickly became an essential part of our lives.

“We like Mount Ainslie for the wide trails and open spaces and we’re a comparatively smaller parkrun.

“Before that we used to run at Ginninderra, another nice Canberra location.

“We both live closer to Ginninderra, but like us, plenty of people travel a little further to Mount Ainslie each week for the trail running.”

Awesome community

When Mount Ainslie started on April 28, 2018 it had 453 finishers. That attendance remains a record (and is just over twice their second highest attendance to date).

These days the average finishers is 128. Martin Dent’s course record of 15:42 at the launch still remains, over three years later.

Mount Ainslie is an out and back trail run with a couple of challenging inclines.

Kate says their “awesome” parkrun community makes it a great place to be on a Saturday morning.

“We have a great range of super fast runners to walkers and everyone in between.

“We have plenty of kids and families and parkrun dogs.

“We have enough regulars to make a welcoming community for first timers and visitors. And of course we have an amazing group of dedicated volunteers.

“We’re Canberra’s only trail run and that makes us special.

“We’re also centrally located. Being so close to the Australian War Memorial makes it special as well.

“We also love our dress up days and get into the spirit of being creative and having fun!”

After parkrun they head to Poppy’s at the Australian War Memorial.

Kate recommends the caramel slice.

While at Mount Ainslie parkrun

For picture-perfect views of Canberra, you can’t go past a visit to Mount Ainslie.

Walk, cycle or drive to the lookout and enjoy the impressive scenery, lovely at all times but a particular treat at sunrise and sunset.

Take in Lake Burley Griffin and many of Canberra’s national attractions, framed by picturesque mountain ranges.

See how Walter Burley Griffin’s vision for the city has been brought to life from the summit.

The War Memorial is nearby, entry is free but timed tickets must be booked.

There are other memorials, museums and galleries nearby.

What’s in a Name…

Mount Ainslie is named in honour of Jaimes Ainslie, a 19th Centrury settler, who was the overseer on Duntroon, a large property in the area.

The suburb of Ainslie, originally part of Duntroon, is also named after him.

After 10 years at Duntroon he returned to Scotland. He died in jail aged 60 while awaiting trial on a charge of assault.