Meet the Australian Park Run Record Holders – one of them is the fastest in the world

Caitlin Adams never expected to set a world record for running.

But when it comes to parkrun, everyone has a chance.

The 25-year-old clocked a time of 15 minutes and 38 seconds at Lochiel Parkrun, in the northeast of Adelaide, last August.

Adelaide runner Caitlin Adams.(Instagram: caitlinadams__)

She broke the previous women’s world record, set by Lauren Reid six months earlier at Paramatta Parkrun, by seven seconds.

“Due to the COVID-19 lockdowns last year, many of the races I was training for over the winter have been canceled or postponed,” she said.

“I knew I was fit, but I was excited to break the world record on a hilly course.”

Originally from Wallaroo, on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, on the day of her record run, Adams said she always intended to push herself.

“I blame it on the fact that there was no pressure,” she said.

“We took full advantage of an opportunity and I raced against my friends who I trained with almost every day.”

Learning from some of the best

Adams is no stranger to elite running but has represented South Australia in athletics and cross country.

She also represented Australia at the World Cross Country Championships and competed at the World University Games in Italy in 2019.

Adelaide runners Caitlin Adams and Jess Stenson train together.
Caitlin Adams trains with Commonwealth Games gold medalist Jess Stenson.(Instagram: caitlinadams__)

She now trains with Commonwealth Games gold medalist Jess Stenson on one of Adelaide’s premier running teams, Team Tempo.

“Everyone I train with are also good friends of mine, they all have their own running goals,” she said.

“We really draw on each other’s successes and dedication as we go to practice every day or hit the start line.”

Adams missed out on qualifying for the Commonwealth Games herself after she contracted COVID-19 at the peak of her training in April.

“The middle distance scene in Australia is very competitive right now and I just didn’t run the times I needed to put my name firmly in the mix,” she said.

“Instead I focused on gaining valuable racing and training experience [and]”Fortunately, I have recovered well from the illness and have returned to my personal best form.”

Rising star breaks Australian record

Another Australian making noise on the running scene is Jude Thomas from Queensland.

Jude Thomas (center) participates in an event in Queensland.
Jude Thomas (center) participates in an event in Queensland.(Supplied: mtsportsphotography)

Just last year, the now 20-year-old broke the Australian men’s park run record by 11 seconds, finishing with a time of 14:02 at his local event in Brisbane.

His time was just 14 seconds behind world record holder Andrew Baddeley, who ran 13:48 in 2012.

Thomas said his original plan was to beat the Queensland record of 14:20, which was also set on the flat Kedron track.

“I just had a good day there and ran faster than I thought I would,” Thomas said.

“I had run 13:52 on the track at national competitions earlier that year, so it was a surprise to run within 10 seconds of my best time in a park run.”

He admits that the fast Kedron course gave him an advantage.

“It’s a dead flat course and it was about 10 degrees [Celsius] so that helps,” he said,

“Kedron is a fast track and I think there are only a few other park runs I could have run that fast on.”

Queensland runner Jude Thomas
Queensland runner Jude Thomas takes part in his local park run.(Instagram: judeethomas)

Thomas has been in the Australian running scene for about three years now, taking on some of the best in the country including Olympians Brett Robinson and Ryan Gregson.

Since taking the step forward, he said he used parkrun for extra training.

But his parkrun experience didn’t start off on a positive note.

“Honestly, I didn’t like running and getting up so early on a weekend,” he said.

“I didn’t know that some of my closest friends and training partners would be from Parkrun.

“Daddy used to have to drag me out of bed to go parkrun, but after a while I started to love it.”

What is next?

Thomas said his goal was to continue to perform at the highest level against his idols.

He also hopes to be able to take the step to a major event such as the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games or World Championships.

Caitlin Adams participates in the Adelaide Invitational
Caitlin Adams participates in the Adelaide Invitational.(Instagram: caitlinadams__)

Adams has her sights set on the Australian Cross Country Championships, which start today in Adelaide.

“I’d love to win that 10-kilometer race,” she said.

“My next big goal is to be selected in the Australian cross-country team for the second time in 2023, with the World Championships being held for the first time at home in Bathurst.

“I hope to do some road races soon and keep improving on track to compete for a place in Australian teams.

“Hopefully I’ll be able to fit in another park run soon as well.”

ABC Sport collaborates with parkrun to promote the benefits of physical activity and civic participation.

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