Friday, 23 January 2015

Mooloolaba, Australia Running Route

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Length 7.6 km (4.7 miles), terrain: flat
By Contributing Editor John Griffith, Social videographer and blogger at http://thebriars.wordpress.com/

For more running routes, see Route List

Every runner knows that seafront runs can be a bit monotonous. Straight, flat, windy, crowded, they are not everybody's cup of tea.  However some seafront runs are a joy to behold, quickly lulling the runner into a hypnotic state of bliss, bathed in sunshine with the roar of the ocean in your ears instead of Foo Fighters for a change.  One such seafront run is in Moolalaba, Queensland, Australia.

Only an hour's drive north of Brisbane, Mooloolaba is a fishing port that over the last 20 years has become a hot holiday destination for a very cosmopolitan set.  High-rises are still being built at one end of the bay while the original fishing port thrives at the other.  It's a top surfing spot too, and the beer at the Mooloolaba Surf Club is a welcome refreshment when your run is over.
Mooloolaba beach Esplanade, photo by John Griffith
It doesn't matter where you start, but assuming your staying in the town centre or you've parked there, head for the seafront and strike out right (South east) on the paved walkway towards the Surf Club.  When you get the club, hit the sand and enjoy the powder between your toes as you head towards the estuary and the barrier.  
After about 2k you'll reach the barrier, so head on to the end of it and breathe in that fresh air.  Look straight down the coast and you can see as far as Noosa with some of the finest Sunshine Coast beaches in between.
The beach at Mooloolaba, photo by John Griffith
Turn back, but this time leave the sand and dodge into the trees where there is a very convenient trail that takes you back to the surf club behind the beach. Rejoin the coastal footpath and head past your starting point as far as the HMAS Brisbane lookout.  This warship which enjoyed an illustrious operational career and was scuttled a mile or so out to sea as a diving wreck.  Nearby there's a convenient outdoor public gym where you can do a few pull-ups but beware, there will be some posing surfdudes there popping their muscles so you'd better look good...

Back down to your starting point will complete just shy of a 10k and you'll be ready for a beer or two at Hot Pipi's then a grilled Red Snapper at Fish on Parkyn.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Seychelles, La Digue, North Coast Running Route

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Length 9 km (5.6 miles), terrain: many small hills, gain of 160m

Please forgive the bad pictures, screenshots of videos and pictures of pictures!

For more running routes, see Route List.

Maybe this route should be sub-titled "The Road to Nowhere." This run up around the north cape of La Digue Island in the Seychelles follows a cement road built a few decades ago by the European Union, that just ends in nothing. The road sits atop the boulders along the northeast coast, with the ocean waves pounding against it, which will gradually pull it into the sea.
Along the beautiful Road to Nowhere
I've seen better-spent international development money. But the road is still standing, and it makes a good route for a quiet run. Thanks fellow EU taxpayers!

Like the other two La Digue runs, we'll start at the jetty in the main village of La Passe, but this time following the road north.
The jetty at La Digue: the only way on or off the island
You'll soon come to the best snorkeling spot on the island at Anse Severe, protected at its south end by the natural wall of rocks pointing out to sea at Cap Barbi. The one-lane road goes right along the beach here. You'll see the neighboring island of Praslin off to the west, across the water, a great spot to watch the sun go down.
Sunset at Anse Severe
After the 1-km mark, the road turns to the right as it goes past the northern point of the island. It heads uphill past two little hotels at narrow Anse Patates.

NOTE: More snorkeling is available here, with sea turtles commonly seen, but watch out for the fairly strong currents further out from the shore!
Anse Patates and the Patatran Village Hotel
The road here is wedged between the narrow beach and the Patatran Village Hotel, perched on the hillside. There are few further signs of civilization after this point, except for a few little houses and the exceptionally tall palm tree on top of the hill to the right, which is really a mobile phone tower. We'll just keep running southeast until the road ends inexplicably at Anse Fourmis.

This north coast (or should I call this the east coast?) is pretty rocky, and the road follows the waterline for much of the time. There is just jungle heading up the hillside that lines the shore to the right side.
Jungle all around
There is also a view out over the water of a few little islands to the north: Félicité, Grand Soeur and Marianne.
Anse Fourmis
When the road stops out on the rocks at Anse Fourmis after 4.5 kilometers, just turn around and head home again, enjoying the sights from the other direction!
This is the end of the line on the Road to Nowhere

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Seychelles, La Digue, Anse Source d'Argent Running Route

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Length 6.9 km (4.3 miles), terrain: flat

Please forgive the bad pictures, screenshots of videos and pictures of pictures!

For more running routes, see Route List.

Our next run in paradise (La Digue Island in the Seychelles) heads to perhaps the most beautiful beach in the world, Anse Source d'Argent. If the scenery looks a bit familiar, it might be that you have seen pictures from a few of the many photo-shoots done at this spot, with its beautifully sculpted gray granite boulders strewn along the beach.
Anse Source d'Argent on La Digue
When I first came to La Digue (20 years ago), you could go right to the beach with no hassles. But nowadays, there is a gate where you have to pay admission (100 rupees) for the l'Union Plantation and the famous beach south of it. I don't normally write up routes where you have to pay, but because this is such a unique spot, I have gone against my normal instincts here. So bring some cash with you this run.

The start of the run is at the wharf, the same starting-place as on the Grand Anse run. Why not? It's the heart of island life, and the place where everyone first sets foot on La Digue.

So point yourself south again, and head past La Passe village, running along Anse la Réunion beach for a kilometer until the road ends. Here, where the other route turns left towards Grand Anse beach, we'll turn right this time, and continue southwards along the west coast to Anse Source d'Argent, passing an ancient cemetery.
The old graveyard could use some weeding
You'll soon come to the admission booth for l'Union plantation, with its old vanilla-processing barns and the pleasant old house. You can watch as the vanilla beans are dried in the sun and then processed on site. The paved road ends here, and you will now follow the dirt paths through the plantation and beyond.
Smoke coming out of the plantation's vanilla-processing sheds
Just past the plantation house, there is a low wall surrounding a compound for land tortoises, with sheer and beautiful granite cliffs rising up behind them.
Cliffs behind the tortoises on the plantation
Continue heading south, near the water, until you come to the highlight of this run, this island and the whole Seychelles: Anse Source d'Argent beach. You'll now follow the path through the jungly nature, right along the water, running and jumping among the towering, gently undulating granite boulders among the waves. You can also see the main island of Mahé lining the horizon in the distance, to the west.
Looking south along Anse Source d'Argent. So nice!
And while you're here, it's time to jump into the water to cool off! OK, the water isn't very deep, so swimming here isn't really very interesting, but you're in paradise, and you have to see it from the water side!

As soon as you can tear yourself away from this corner of pure paradise (my advice is to turn this run into two little runs, with a big beach-break in between), then head back the same way you came, to the wharf.