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How To Conquer City-Bay No Matter What Your Fitness Level Is

The trainers at Sparks in the Park gave us their top tips to get you ready for the City-Bay Fun Run.

The Sunday Mail City-Bay Fun Run is an iconic event raising money for fantastic charities all over South Australia. On Sunday 17 September, you’ll have the option to walk or run the 3, 6 and 12km tracks alongside the many South Aussies who train for months to participate in this event. Two of these people are Sparks in the Park trainers and volunteers Ben Kempster and Joe Hayden who will be running to raise funds for the Women’s & Children’s Hospital Foundation’s TeamKids Beach House Project to be built in Encounter Lakes, Victor Harbour. They’ve shared their top tips on how to conquer the fun run with us.

Encounter Lakes, Victor Harbour

The Sparks in the Parks program is run by SA Power Networks Employee Foundation as a part of a workplace initiative to not only raise money for a worthy cause, but raise workplace morale and develop connections through health and fitness. Since 2013, the initiative has raised close to $80,000 for the Women’s and Children’s Hospital Foundation, with 100% of the money raised from the program going towards the Hospital’s neonatal ward and home equipment centre.

The boys have given us their top tips for preparing for the City-Bay, no matter what your fitness level.

Pre-Race Day Top Tips

Start small – run short lengths and build up:

Slow and steady wins the race. Try running short lengths and building up your stamina. Start by running for one minute then walking for one minute for 2-3kms. Then start building up the time spent running and reduce the time spent walking, soon you’ll be running for 40 minutes without stopping. Slowly start increasing the kilometres incrementally, they don’t recommend going from 2km to 10km in a week!

Interval running:

Basically this is ‘sprint and recover’. Try this at an oval or soccer field by running one way up and walking back. Use the walk back as recovery and go again. Doing this for 15-20 minutes, 2-3 times a week will help you to increase your running distance.

Warming up before and stretching after running:

Try active movement before you run; things like star jumps, step ups on a low bench, squats, lunges and mountain climbers are a great way to get your blood pumping and your muscles all warmed up for a run. At the end of the run, static (stationary) stretching is a great way to help your muscles recover and move out any built-up lactic acid. Stretching your quadriceps, calves, hamstrings and hip flexors is highly recommended. Also, foam rollers and tennis balls are a runner’s best friend for getting into the spots that you can’t get with a static stretch.


This one is super simple – drink water! We’ve been telling ourselves this for years, but the guys reminded us we should all be drinking between 2-3 litres of water per day. This can be a real challenge, but you can help yourself by setting goals throughout the day by saying to yourself, “I’ll make sure I’ve had a litre by lunch time” or “every time I go to the printer, I’ll have a drink of water”. Green tea and natural caffeine-free teas are also great choices. Coffee, soft drinks and fruit juices do not hydrate the body so keep these to a minimum.

Start to increase the amount of water you drink daily a couple of weeks before the race. Don’t start hydrating the day before, it won’t work and you’ll just need to go to the toilet a lot (ie. you might pee your pants during the race…)


Back off from your training in the week of the race. Try a couple of light runs that are only a short distance (4-5kms), with lots of stretching and good sleeps if you can (you don’t have to tell us twice!). On the night before the run, they suggest a meal with lots of carbs and not too much meat – if any (carbs and sleep sound like the names of our best friends). On the morning of the race, the boys will have toast or English muffins with strawberry jam and a black coffee/tea. Food is a very personal thing though, so do whatever works for you but don’t be experimental on the day of a race – stick with what you know works.

Race Day Top Tips


All the energy required for the race is stored as Glycogen in your muscles, so you won’t need to bring food for during the run.


The City to Bay is totally exposed, especially along Anzac Hwy, so you definitely need a cap and some good quality sunscreen.

Race Day warm-up:

Your pre-race warm-up should last about 10 minutes. The idea is to heat up your entire body which will reduce the risk of injury.


They don’t recommend trying out your new runners on race day – break them in over a couple of weeks. Also cut your toe nails at least two days before the race.

And…this one’s REALLY important:

Go to the toilet before the race! It’s better to run light and the queues for the toilets along the run route can be a nightmare.


Relax, go at your own pace and enjoy it!

So now that you’ve got the hot tips from the experts, why not head down to Sparks in the Park for your pre-event training and sign up to raise funds for the Women’s & Children’s Hospital Foundations TeamKids Beach House Project? An extremely worthy cause, the TeamKids Beach House is a much needed purpose built, fully furnished and medically equipped holiday home for South Australian families who are caring around-the-clock for children suffering long term and life limiting illnesses. The first of its type in South Australia, it will be built on recently purchased land in Encounter Lakes at Victor Harbor, providing a peaceful place where SA families can take a much needed break to share special experiences that will last a lifetime.

The Sparks in the Park program is available to those from all levels in SA Power Networks, from the CEO to the field staff and office workers. With their new 12 week program starting Monday 14 August from 4:30pm, they’re keen to raise another $4,000 with help from their participants and the dollar-matching workplace initiative in place through the SA Power Networks’ Employee Foundation.

Kempster encourages other workplaces to develop this initiative in their businesses as it not only creates connections across the business that you may not otherwise get, but can raise a heap of money in a short amount of time while you’re at it. All you need are people willing to volunteer their time to run the program, and people willing to exercise once a week.

Need a push to get your pre-City-Bay training started, why not join Sparks in the Park for a training session this Monday? At only $20 a session you’ll not only get fit in a structured and fun team environment, but you’ll be supporting a great foundation while you’re at it – and with a different routine every week to keep things fresh, you’ll never be bored.

The Sparks team bring along all the equipment everyone needs for the session, so you don’t need to buy a thing. Ben and Joe are able to keep everyone in the group motivated, strive to find time to support each person individually and show you how to properly complete each exercise. By the end of just one session, you’ll want to come back a second time. Contact Joe or Ben at [email protected] or [email protected] to join.

Group training not your speed? Sign up for the City-Bay to raise funds for the Women’s & Children’s Hospital Foundations TeamKids Beach House Project. If you register to support TeamKids soon, you’ll also be able to get a discount on the entrance fee using their code.


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