Canberra Times journalist Megan Doherty explores why and where Canberrans like to walk in her 8 September 2018 article:
Canberrans and the lure of the big walk
Time to pick up your walking pace!
University of Sydney researchers have analysed UK population data in a study of walking speed and longevity, according to a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Self-rated walking pace and all-cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality: individual participant pooled analysis of 50,225 walkers from 11 population British cohorts was published in volume 52, issue 12 of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
An Interns Diary by Breanna Minisini
This year the Canberra Walking Festival (CWF) was held on Saturday 7th April to Sunday 8th April 2018. I was given the opportunity to be an intern for this event, along with 5 other interns and many other dedicated volunteers. CWF proudly supports the Heart Foundation.
The Canberra Walking Festival has been running, or should I say walking, for 27 years and was first started by Harry and Kathleen Berg and the event is now managed by Diana Marshall. This year, Albert Hall was chosen as the new venue for the festival; the location is in a prime position, less than 3km from the civic centre and surrounded by popular Canberra tourist attractions such as Parliament House, Old Parliament House, Questacon and many more.
The Canberra Walking Festival is associated with other organisations, such as The International Marching League (IML) and the Internationaler Volkssport Verband/International Federation of Popular Sports (IVV). These organisations promote walking, being active, exploring and making friends. The IML and IVV also provide members with information about other walks that occur all around the world. It is interesting to note that Canberra is the only location in Australia that gets the opportunity to host an IML event.
Through out my time interning, I was introduced to so many kind people. Walkers who participated came from Canberra, other parts of Australia and from overseas. I chose this internship as I was interested to understand why these people took part in events such as this. During the two days I spoke to many walkers about the different walking festivals they had participated in around the world. I discovered that many did these walks annually while exploring the countries they walked in, and by doing this were also able to meet locals and make friends internationally.
Walkers enjoyed the atmosphere of the event and since it was not a competition, the walk created opportunities for them to more genuinely interact with a variety of other walkers having similar interests. Walkers said that taking part in such events provides them with a sense of accomplishment and adventure. When walking around Albert Hall on the last day, I met two people who were participating in the walk called Tony and Tina. While they had never met before, they came to realise they had both walked in Nijmegen.
This CWF brings together walkers from all over the world to take part in something that is healthy for both the body and soul. How many opportunities do you get to say you walked with a university lecturer from Germany on the weekend?
The festival’s group of volunteers helped to make both myself and fellow interns feel extremely welcomed. Some of these volunteers have been returning year after year for this event. Many of the volunteers I spoke to said that one of the highlights of the event was about the friends they had made and that it felt nice to do something good for others. During the two days, I spoke with Anne who told me it was her first year volunteering. Anne told me she joined to learn about the heritage of Canberra and how she enjoyed the atmosphere of the event and said “it’s a shared spirit of doing something with and for other people”. While the more and more volunteers I spoke to all had there own reasons for coming back, all agreed the community feeling of the event was their main reason.
In being given an opportunity to go on one of the walks, I was able to explore places and artwork in Canberra that I had never seen in my 4 years of living here. I was able to speak with many people from different parts of the world that I would otherwise never would have had the chance chance to meet without this event. My favorite part about the festival was the amazing volunteers. I felt very much a part of an international community, because that is the feeling this amazing festival gives you; it gives you the chance to explore the beauty of this capital city, to be active, to meet other people and to also do something for a good cause.
Join us next year:
A report by Andjelka Stevanovic, University of Canberra Intern
The annual Canberra Walking Festival, was held this year over 2 days, on the first weekend of April. The weather was warm, the atmosphere was inviting, and the attendees and volunteers were enthusiastic as always. This year’s new location for the event was a beautiful and historic venue, the Albert Hall. Which proved to be a perfect location and space for the festival, and luckily enough will be for the next 2 years.
With over 400 registered walkers, the festival was a complete success, with once again walkers coming from all around Australia, and the world to participate. To top off the fact that walkers came from all around, they also varied in age, the event caters for all walkers, which it did. Out of Australia’s 8 states and territories, we had walkers from 6 of them attend, and we had participants from 14 other countries, some of them including: Germany, Netherlands, Norway, USA and Japan.
The walks ranged between 5km to the 42km marathon which started on Saturday morning. Many of these walkers participated both days and received a ‘Two Day Medal’ at completion of their walk on Sunday afternoon. As an intern from the University of Canberra I had the pleasure of handing out some of the medals as each walker returned from their walk. Some walkers returning from their charming and scenic strolls and others from scenic, yet long and courageous walks. Walkers had the opportunity to explore around Canberra, by seeing Lake Burley Griffin and its surroundings, the National Dinosaur Museum, and the Australian National Botanic Gardens.
Without the volunteers and the walkers this event is not possible, therefore, the dedication and commitment that comes with this event from the committee, volunteers and the walkers is incredible. Many of the volunteers have been serving for many years, with majority of them completing the walks as well. One of the volunteers has been a part of the event for 24 out of the 27 years, by both walking the tracks and volunteering afterward. Her reasoning behind coming back each year to assist is, ‘because it is a lot of fun’. They are truly dedicated to this event, and the walkers are amazing too.
Many of the walkers were new comers, however, countless amounts of them were returning guests. I had the chance to talk to a few of the walkers from Germany that were first comers to the Canberra Walking Festival, they were excited and amazed at how beautiful it is here in Australia. They have been walking for years and are devoted to achieving more. I also spoke to a woman from Sydney, who has been coming down to Canberra for many consecutive years to attend and complete the walking routes. Their reasons for walking, and continuing to return to Canberra are because it is a great, enjoyable event and many of the walkers have made lifelong friends.
To conclude the wonderful event, achievement awards were handed out and the returning walkers were commemorated, for continuing to return year after year, with one of the international walkers returning for the 11th year in a row, truly amazing! Another great achievement for the AussieWalk, was being able to honour a pair of walkers for completing their final IML event here in Canberra. Each accomplishment is remembered and plays an important role in the events success. I have had the pleasure to be a part of such an incredible and memorable event, and I am amazed at all the organisers and the walkers for all their accomplishments. What a remarkable weekend it was.
A wonderful weekend was spent in Canberra at the Walking Festival (CWF) by some walkers from the Illawarra region of New South Wales. Our walks in the CWF were wonderful and we all hope to be back next year. We have seen parts of Canberra we would not have otherwise seen — the Botanical Gardens were great and walking around the lake was wonderful. There were 18 of us, some first-timers, walking 5km, 10km and 21km. All having a great time. Thanks to the organisers and volunteers for a really enjoyable weekend — even the weather was perfect.
Our usual walk is from Coalcliff to Scarborough Pub across the Seacliff Bridge. And what a walk it is, running parallel to the ocean we see dolphins, whales, sea eagles and we’ve even spotted a seal. Our group comprises anyone who wants to walk, no invitation is required, you just turn up. We walk to Wollongong a couple of times each year and often to Austinmer for a coffee and muffin — sometimes a swim along the way. We have built strong friendships and seen each other through good times and bad. We extend our walking days to include other social get-togethers. Walking together keeps us physically fit and socially active as it always includes coffee.
The 2018 Canberra Walking Festival is doing something new with the half marathon this year. We have split the Saturday marathon route into two equal halves, so you will get the opportunity to chose to do either the first half or the second half of the marathon route. This then creates a dilemma for 21km walkers: which route to choose? Here are a few comments on each option to help you decide:
Early option/first half of the marathon:
- starts at 7:40am immediately after the marathon (or if you are walking with a marathoner you could start at 7:30am), so you will finish nice and early
- in addition to Lake Burley Griffin, the route goes through the Jerrabomberra Wetlands, around the Carillon (Aspen Island) and includes some of the memorials along Anzac Parade
- for those who have walked the 21km distance in previous years, you will cover new territory in 2018
- the route includes some gravel, grass and boardwalk trail sections
Later option/second half of the marathon:
- starts at 9:30am, so your will not have to get up so early (some of the faster marathon walkers may catch you up)
- the route go down Weston Park and Black Mountain Peninsula, which have not been included in recent years
- the route is more straightforward and is solely on shared use paths – if you find the paths too hard on your feet you can opt to walk on the grass or dirt verge in most areas
The overall difficulty of both options is fairly similar. The early option has 96m of climb across the route, and the late option has 151m of climb, but the extra 55m of climb is negligible over 21km.
So the choice is yours. Do you want to start early or late? If you are a repeat walker, do you want something a little different? We think that both routes are lovely, with the likelihood of spotting kangaroos on either option (at the end of the Wetlands section on the early route, and in Western Park on the late route).
This is the first year we have offered a choice for 21km walkers on Saturday, so let us know what you think. Should we continue this option in future years?
An important note: there is also a 21km option on Sunday. This is a point to point walk, and we bus you out to the start of the walk. The bus leaves the Albert Hall at 9am for all 21km walkers.
Should I, could I or can I walk a marathon? And what is the Canberra Walking Festival marathon like? These are questions we are frequently asked.
A marathon is 42.2km or 26.2 miles, which is an awfully long way, even when driving! Nevertheless, completing a marathon is on many people’s bucket list, and it is certainly achievable with prior preparation.
The Canberra Walking Festival offers the opportunity to complete a marathon in a non-competitive environment, with friendly walkers from around the world. These are some of the things you should know if you are considering the marathon distance at the 2018 Canberra Walking Festival:
- You do need to prepare yourself for the distance. We have a suggested training program that you may wish to use. This takes up to 18 weeks, depending on your prior fitness level, so if you haven’t prepared yourself by now, you probably need to think about next year’s marathon!
- No marathon is easy, but the 2018 marathon is the easiest marathon course we have offered in the 12 year history of the event, whereas the 2017 marathon was the hardest:
2018: 42.2km with 249m of ascent over the route, but no significant climbs
2017: 44km (so longer than a true marathon) and 687m of ascent, including 4 significant climbs across the route.
- The marathon route has a variety of surfaces, but is mostly on shared use paths around Lake Burley Griffin. You will explore a few new areas that we have not covered in past years on any route.
- All walkers are asked to finish by 4pm, primarily so that our checkpoint volunteers finish in a reasonable time. This gives you 8.5 hours.
- The 2018 marathon is in two halves, and you return to the Albert Hall at the mid-way point. This offers a few new options this year:
There is a cut-off for the first half. You need to complete this by 11:45am.
You can collect something for lunch before starting the second half of the marathon course – there are limited opportunities for food along the second half of the course.
Walkers entering the half-marathon have the option of walking the first half of the marathon (early start) or second half of the marathon (later start).
- At 11:45am our sweep walker will start walking the second half of the course and removing the route signs and closing down the checkpoints, so you will not be able to continue if you get to the half way point after this time.
- If you miss the cut-off time to continue (or if you choose to stop at the half way point), you will be given credit for walking a half marathon.
- When you finish the marathon, you will get a special medal to commemorate your achievement. And if you come back on Sunday to walk any distance you will also earn the 2018 two day walker medal. (Note: IML walkers need to complete minimum qualifying distances on both days for the IML stamp – see IML page for further details).
More information about walking at the 2018 Canberra Walking Festival will be sent to all registered walkers prior to the festival weekend, and this information will also be posted on the Canberra Walking Festival page on the website. If you have any questions about the marathon, please feel free to post a comment below.
This article was written shortly before Martin completed his 5th Canberra Walking Festival event in 2016.
Dr.Martin Fryer is well known in the running community in Canberra, Australia and internationally, particularly in the ultramarathon arena. Martin has run over 100 ultramarathons since 1997 with highlights including wins at the Commonwealth 24 Hour Championships (UK, 2009: 255K), the Surgères 48 Hour Race (France, 2009, 433K), and the Sri Chinmoy 6 Day (2011: 784K) and 10 Day Races (2013: 1158K) in New York. In 2012 he set an age group (M50) World Record, running more than 247K on a 400m track in 24 hours in Taipei, Taiwan. More recently (June to August 2015), he finished in second place in the inaugural Tour de France footrace, in which he covered 2800K in 43 days without any rest days (equivalent to roughly 66 marathons).
Given Martin’s background, the organisers of the Canberra Walking Festival were a little surprised to see that Martin had entered their event for the first time in 2012 and has been participating every year since then. Naturally he entered the longest distances available each day, completing the marathon on the Saturday, followed by a 30km walk on Sunday. As might be expected, he has been the first to finish each year, although the event is not timed, and there are no prizes for coming first.
Martin is not the only runner who has walked in the Canberra Walking Festival, but we were interested to find out a little more about what attracted Martin to this event, and what keeps him coming back.
How did you first find out about the Canberra Walking Festival and why did you decide to participate?
I first found out about the Canberra Walking Festival in 2012 when I was doing an internet search for local road walking groups and/or events. The reason for that search was that I had incorporated walking into my ultramarathon training program since my first 24 Hour race in 2004 and was now looking for some social and structured way to continue that kind of training. When I saw that the Canberra Walking Festival had a full marathon walk on the Saturday followed by a 30K walk on the Sunday I knew that I had found a wonderful, challenging way of getting in two long back-to-back hard walks that would not only boost my walking strength and fitness but also give me a whole weekend of touring around Canberra’s superb paths and trails that I love so much.
How does a walking event of this nature compare to some of the other multi day running events you have completed?
The degree of challenge has been relatively high for me each year as I do the 42K/30K double without any prior long, hard, structured walking in preparation, so it is a matter of just winging it and using the event as a solid walk training block. The walking that I do in my normal training is usually in short bursts of 1 to 3 minutes interspersed between running periods that are roughly 3 to 5 times the walk duration. Quite a lot of this walking is also done on uneven trails rather than nice smooth bike paths, so the Canberra Walking Festival allows me to include some lovely long stretches of smooth surface in which I can get a good rhythm going. The overall difficulty is nothing like a multiday event where nutrition, hydration and trying to get sleep and recovery are major concerns. Therefore, my aim in the Canberra Two Day Walk is to push myself hard as I can. I do wake up very sore on the Sunday morning (following the previous day’s marathon) with tight hips and sore shins but normally these issues settle out after a bit of a warm up.
What sort of pace do you aim for when walking?
For the Canberra Two Day Walk I had no goal pace in the first year but now I roughly aim for somewhere between 8:00 and 8:30 min/K average pace for the marathon (5h45-6h) on the Saturday and a little faster on the Sunday.
What type of walking do you prefer?
I actually like a wide variety of locations, surfaces and terrains though if I was pushed I would say that my favourites involve long, steady climbs on non-technical bush tracks in the Brindabella Mountains and Namadgi National Park (ACT) that culminate in amazing views. I have no training in racewalking technique so I guess that I have some kind of fitness walking style?
The rules of the Canberra Walking Festival specify “no running”. Do you find it difficult complying with this rule?
Not at all. The whole point of participating in these events for me is to walk and to strengthen some of those different muscle groups and tendons that are different to running, so I have no temptation at all to start running. In fact, in 2012 I followed up my Canberra Two Day Walks with a 24 Hour Walk at Coburg in April. Walking form is strictly observed at this event and I managed to cover 152 km in my first attempt, making me vow to go back one day and get the 100 miles with some proper training!
You also train other novice ultra runners and I recall you saying that you include walking as part of their training programs.
Walking is an absolutely critical part of the programs that I prepare for my ultramarathon squad, whether they are a novice or an experienced World class athlete. Most runners that I prescribe walking to know that it is in their best interests for high performance when I show them my results and other high performers in the squad (a few members of my squad were part of the Silver Medal Mens Team at the World 24H running Championships in 2015), but ultimately they quickly find out for themselves that it is not only a nice change, but they can cover long training distances with considerably less stress on the body.
The training sessions that I prescribe range from very long run/walks at a given time or distance ratio through to occasional pure power walks done for 45 to 90 min at maximum effort. There are so many advantages to being able to walk well for ultra-endurance athletes: it allows a change of muscle groups and a lowering of heart rate, it allows short breaks to take in food and drink without the bouncing of running, it is low impact, it works runners in a low aerobic fat burning zone, and it allows runners to do very long run/walks that allow faster recovery than pure runs and thus not interfere with the rest of the weekly program.
Why would you recommend the Canberra Walking Festival to other runners?
For all of the reasons described above: excellent low end aerobic training, superb courses and scenery, great organisation, meeting walkers from all around the world, very modest entry fees, great food from the local Scout groups at the end, and more than anything- getting out of your running comfort zone and doing something completely different! I should also point out that runners do not need to push themselves to complete the longest distances available on each of the two days. For example, a 5km parkrunner might choose to walk 10-11km on each day, and still find that to be an enjoyable but still challenging experience.
Please enjoy this article written by one of our 2017 University of Canberra interns, Georgia Niedermeier.
Across two days, over the first weekend in April, 2017, more than 400 registered walkers took on various sections of the Canberra Centenary Trail for the annual Canberra Walking Festival. The festival is an event for all ages that undeniably lives up to that title. The youngest walker was 5 years old and the eldest, 92! Age did not hold the walkers back, with the 92-year-old returning from Saturday’s 5km walk before anyone else. The event boasted walkers from all over Australia as well as Russia, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Korea, Vietnam and Czech Republic. Walks ranging from 5km to the huge 44km marathon were available to choose from. Most walkers participated in walks on both Saturday and Sunday, managing to pry themselves out of bed for an second big day of walking through the Nation’s Capital.
The event has been running for 26 years and there are some who have participated from the get go. I had the absolute pleasure of being involved in this year’s event, as a University of Canberra intern, and took the time to talk with some walkers about why they love the festival. The most telling responses were generated by the question Why do you keep coming back? I was met with many incredulous looks, ‘Why wouldn’t I?’. The event is full of smiling faces, triumphant walkers, enthusiastic volunteers and an overall positive vibe. Why wouldn’t you come back?
Why do they return though? One couple from Sydney has made the trip to Canberra 21 times. They love the event and think Canberra is a beautiful place to walk and stay on for a post festival bike ride. Canberra is a wonderful location and this year’s use of the Centenary Trail exhibited some of Canberra’s best offerings. One local voiced her love of Canberra’s history. She believes walking through it is one of the best ways to absorb all the city has to offer. Other responses centred around challenge, incentive, and sense of achievement, but the resounding consensus was that the community is one you want to be a part of.
The walk is great exposure for Canberra as a tourist destination, with the trails taking walkers past some of Canberra’s tourism hubs. Some international walkers took the opportunity to stop in at the War Memorial during their walks while others were happy just ticking ‘see a kangaroo’ off their bucket list. Entrants up early on Sunday saw hot air balloons adorn the sky and walkers passing the Carillon around midday were treated to a recital.
For those after a little more incentive and reward, the Canberra Walking Festival is a member event of The IML Walking Association. IML encourages walking around the world, with awards on offer for completing walks in multiple countries.
This is not a competitive event, you do not have to be the fastest, strongest or fittest to feel the sense of victory that every walker exuded upon return to home base. After experiencing the event for myself I hope to see it grow and continue for years to come. It is a fantastic event full of wonderful people from all walks of life.
“After a day’s walk everything has twice its usual value.”
— George Macauley Trevelyan