Nov 10, 2018

Saturday. The Wanderlust 108 Wellness Triathlon, Sydney, 2018.

We've finally reached that time of the year where the weekends are pleasantly full of celebrations and not so pleasantly full of hours spent fighting the crowds everywhere are nearly upon me so I am glad that I got the chance to have a Saturday as uniquely rewarding as the one just gone.

To begin with, the weather came to the party after a week which saw it go all over the place from rainy and windy to hot and windy.  

I saw a cruise ship serenely glide through the water as I hit the hills for my long morning run

and this ....  crest ... of cockatoos were keeping an eye on my pace for the final stretch of flat towards home.

This pair of lovebirds were the closest thing I could find to a starry-eyed couple heading for home the morning after the night that was.

They did not even come up for air as I jostled around trying to find their best angle.  Young love.

It was a change of pace a few hours later when I found myself at Centennial Park for Sydney's Wanderlust 108.  Wanderlust 108 are day-long festivals held around the world that focus on wellness.  The numbers each have special significance where 1 = unity, 0 = wholeness and 8= infinite love.  This year's festival in Sydney was unique in that it is the first Wanderlust to feature a Wellness Triathlon that I will go into in more detail later.

The cynics amongst you will be silently laughing into your mugs of tea about now.  For so many reasons:

  • Sydney Shop Girl being at a wellness festival
  • 43 year old Sydney Shop Girl being at a wellness festival whose marketing features women half her age 
  • and perhaps at what wellness seems to be a euphemism for in 2018 - designer activewear, pricy and niche 'whole foods' as well as a range of lifestyle practices many in the 'mainstream' world would consider 'crunchy' and associated with the likes of 'supermodels whose names begin with M' (I try hard here not to name and shame anyone explicitly) and Instagram influencers.

To begin with, I have to admit that I shared your collective cynicism.  As I surrendered by $61 AUD ticket for a sky blue general admission wristband and race bib, I found myself wondering what I'd gotten myself into as I wrote off half a Saturday that could otherwise have been spent 'Saturday parenting'  Master SSG (breakfast out, several hours spent trying to do half an hour of homework before some compensatory mental health time at the Westfield in the Junction).

Wanderlust 108 appeared to have been made for Instagram.  From its striking wooden entry gate to the oversized toys in the chill out area and the radio station sponsored free hot drink station ... we were all Instagramming what we saw like there was no tomorrow.

For the record, I can Instagram the minutiae of an event at a speed almost compatible with a woman half my age.  It's just my hashtagging that slows me down.  And the need to find the best light and filters for my ageing skin...

But the reality of what I was a part of dawned by the time I settled down at my yoga mat on the main lawn and affixed my race number to my Lulu Lemon (of course but sadly they were not part of the festival shopping village this year ... maybe next year, Lulu?).  For a start, the women around me while mostly very young, were also all universally friendly and down to earth.  We accommodated each other as the order went around for more precise placement of our yoga mats in our assigned rows.  We took photos for each other (I took at least 7 for the group behind me because someone a bit older than me didn't like her hair in a lot of them and I didn't have the heart to tell her about the filtering and editing apps).  We felt free to ask each other random questions about the event and sought help and answers for each other as needed.

On the 5K run, the faster runners called out to redirect us when it was clear we were all heading in the opposite direction of the planned race route.  When we needed to pair up for activities, we could all turn to the stranger at our right and know that she would partner up with you no questions asked.  I say she because Wanderlust Sydney was a 90% female event this year.  I don't know what the gender breakdown is in other cities but the event here was rich in supportive, positive vibes only oestrogen.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I think the Wanderlust 5K is the only race in Sydney where participants are encouraged to rehydrate with free bottles of Kombucha from sponsor Remedy Kombucha.  I will also go on the record to say that today was the day that I first tried kombucha and I'm glad I did it but I am in no hurry to buy myself another bottle.  It was so acidic, frothy rather than fizzy and if I was Master SSG I'd be calling it 'too spicy'.   The oats and quinoa snack pack was satisfying but a bit bland.  I suck at clean living.  I much prefer my local cafe's take on things.  They serve acai with a healthy scoop of toasted muesli and fruit salad.  So I can be part of the movement without sacrificing the safe and familiar.

After snacking in the outdoor lounge, we returned to our yoga mats to find complimentary tins of tea arranged on them.

There were workshops on meditation and aerial yoga but fortysomething festival goer yours truly was happy just to sit on my mat and catch some rays.

While indulging in a bit of self-maintenance.  Which will surprise no one reading this.

The final parts of the triathlon were yoga and meditation.

Fee Zard led us through yoga and Jonni Pollard through meditation.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much I got out of both these sessions as I knew I'd struggle through them both.

Fee has a wonderful energy and speaking manner.  She interspersed her flow yoga segments with a few hip-hop dance moves.  In the spirit of Wanderlust, I hipped and I hopped.  But readers, I am sure it looked dreadful.  I have Fee to thank for the philosophy of using yoga practice to improve my relationship with my self through ending each practice with a moment of 'seeing myself' and telling her that I forgive and love her.

It got too hot for me in the sun so I retreated to the shade of tree for Jonni's meditation.  I met a few other like-minded ladies including the third wheel of a group. The third wheel and I sat back to back at Jonni's instruction for the meditation session.  It was very comforting and stillness inducing sitting that way with a stranger.  I began to be more comfortable with the idea of simply sharing in the presence of emotions or thoughts rather than actively trying to respond to or correct them.  But I still found it a challenge to be still and free of my phone for 30 minutes.

I'm glad I had the chance to attend Wanderlust 108 this year.  It was well organized and a lot of fun.  Very different to the usual kind of thing I do on a weekend.  I'm not sure when I'll next have the chance to attend again but when I do return, I'll be brave and perhaps give the aerial yoga or the hula hoops a go.

Have you ever been to a Wanderlust festival?


  1. I don't think Kombucha has to be those things. The one I get from Aldi which is ginger and lemon flavoured is lovely, and the first time I ever tried it was from one of those Kombi vans with taps on the side at Eat St Wollongong, their flavours were all great, you could sample them all before buying, they were all quite mild and not at all acidic. :)

  2. It sounds like something way out of my comfort zone, but good for you giving it a go! And enjoying yourself! Even if all of the even (and the freebies!) weren't to your tastes, it's good you enjoyed yourself and tried something a bit different.


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