King’s Park pleasures

There are those for whom running is a chore. They certainly have never run in King’s Park, Perth.

I have a few hours free after my business meetings in Perth so I swap my suit and tie for more comfortable attire and head off down to the Swan River for a run. It’s only 3:30pm and there’s plenty of light left in the day. From the banks of the river I can see King’s Park calling to me far away at the top of the hill.

I run along the water, watching the ferries glide back and forth on the dark gold-topped water. Gulls fly overhead creating a beach-side feel. I’m sure the scavengers are a nuisance but they also add an atmosphere to the wide open parklands along the river banks. Couples walk hand-in-hand, talking softly to each other or stopping to steal a kiss.

I ask a fellow runner for directions to King’s Park. She points me under the railway bridge and tells me to take Jacob’s Ladder. That name always has an ominous ring to it because it generally means there will be a lot of steps. Sure enough, the sign says there are  242 steps to climb up the cliff-face to King’s Park. I set off on the long climb.

King’s Park is just near the top of Jacob’s Ladder and I set off to enjoy the views of Perth. I stop at the lookouts and join the tourists taking photos of our western capital before running down the trails through the botanic gardens.

There’s a peacefulness about King’s Park. It’s difficult to feel stressed or tired with lovers cuddling on the perfectly manicured grass, the tall rows of lemon-scented gum trees lining the avenue and the stunningly designed feature gardens. From the cliff-side path I can see for miles over the bays of the Swan River with its moored boats, ferries, bridges and beaches.

In the Place of Reflection I stop and say a prayer of gratitude for the journey that’s led me here. I also ask for guidance and strength in challenges yet to be faced. It’s funny how some spaces can force you to stop and take stock.

At the water garden and the fountain for women I send out thoughts for all the women who have affected my life; both those I’ve known and the historical heroes who paved some pretty important ways. I also think of the girl child I was all those years ago and savour my connection with her. While I’m a man, I still feel connected with women’s spaces and energy through the experiences of my past.

I feel re-energised and calm as I leave King’s Park behind me and trot back down Jacob’s Ladder to the Swan River’s banks. I join the evening runners and cyclists heading home from work. After 1hr 22mins I am back near our hotel. I don’t know how far I’ve run because my GPS never works here in Perth. But it doesn’t matter. Training isn’t about the miles or the work; it’s about cultivating a lifestyle of activity, awareness and joy. Because after-all, isn’t that what life’s all about.

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