by Miwa Tominaga
On 28 October 2022, members of Achilles Melbourne travelled to Bendigo for a weekend of guide training at parkruns, trail running, First Nations’ Welcome to Country, ecology education and community building. Six athletes with a vision impairment and 7 sighted guides travelled to Bendigo.
Saturday 29th started bright and early with participants breaking off into two groups to provide guide training at both Bendigo Botanic and Kennington Reservoir parkruns.
Bendigo Botanic parkrun (event #71) had 83 people run and walk the event. We were lucky enough to have around 15 people attend guide training at 7:30am where Achilles guide, Jacinta, ran through the basics of guiding an athlete with a vision impairment. After the event briefing where we were warmly welcomed, the 10 members of Achilles in attendance (5 VIPs and 5 guides) teamed up with local parkrunners to further their training and give them the opportunity to try guiding.
While all of this was going our three other members (1 VIP and 2 guides) ventured to Kennington Reservoir Parkrun (event #322) where they had 128 people run and walked. Our members had the opportunity to talk to those in attendance about guiding and answer any questions they had.
After parkrun, people were given the opportunity to spend the rest of the day exploring their surroundings using various transport options included tram, bus, taxi, bicycle and walking from our convenient accommodation the Julie-Ann inn. People enjoyed attending the vintage talking tram, local pubs / restaurants, art gallery, museums, underground mine tours and other Bendigo tourist attractions before meeting up for a group dinner.
On Sunday 30th we headed out to the Bendigo box ironbark forests to meet up with the crew from Trail Bus with special guests Deanna, an ecologist guide, and Trent who led us in a Welcome to C ountry and traditional smoking ceremony and explained why these ceremonies are conducted, as well as their importance. Trent had just travelled 6 hours from flood affected towns in Echuca, Kerang and Swan Hill.
Deanna, a Bendigo-based ecologist, led everyone through a 1.2km nature hike sharing insightful information on local ecology, history, plants and wildlife. For example, Box Ironbark, caterpillars, pardalotes, chocolate lily, native orchids. She was able to point out important flora and fauna for those in attendance and would encourage people to touch and smell the plants when safe to do so.
The Trail Bus team continued the morning with a 6km and 12 km trail run / hike, taking on parts of the Goldfields Track. This was completed by 16 people and 3 guide dogs. The trail run consisted of lots of hills, rocky ground, muddy areas and water crossings. People were given the opportunity to go at the pace that suited them and the environment around them.
Once all the trail fun was over we took the opportunity to have a post run lunch with live entertainment at the Bridge Hotel Bendigo before people headed off home to Melbourne.
A big thank you goes out to all those who made this weekend a success including Claudia for organising the weekend, Bendigo Botanic and Kennington Reservoir parkruns for being so welcoming, Trail Bus, Deanna, Trent and Guide Dogs Victoria for the Connected Together grant.
Our mission is to enable people from all walks of life, including those with physical impairments, to enjoy the health giving benefits of walking and running in a supportive, social and encouraging environment.