welcome to this week's newsletter
In this eddition of the SA parkrun newsletter, we read about a parkrunner’s ‘bucket list’ as well as the journey to achieving a red 50 T-shirt by an Ebotse parkrunner. Our very first parkrun in Pretoria kicks of this weekent at the Voortrekker Monument, don’t miss out! Discovery Vitality offers their health tips to parkrunners, and finally, we take a look at what has been happening at the Roodepoort and Woodlands parkruns.
For this newsletter I can think of no more interesting story than this one submitted by parkrunner Michael Connolly. Please enjoy it.
Nothing Quite focuses the mind...
Michael Connolly edited version
Nothing quite focuses the mind like an uncalled for medical emergency which in turn causes one to have a critical look at your "bucket list". That's really how it all started, in December 2010 in the Drakensberg mountains. We were having a few days R&R recovering from life as lived in Gauteng. We were four happy campers; Shireen, her mother Linda, our good friend Lyn Anderson and me, Mike the blogger. During the week I felt a bit flat and low on energy; I put it down to life and the economy and anything else that wears people out nowadays.
I was also somewhat breathless, which Shireen, in her helpful way, suggested was probably indigestion. I felt it might be a hiatus hernia which had a similar effect some years previously.
On returning to Johannesburg I felt it might be a good idea to have a medical check- up, starting with a visit to a specialist endocrinologist who had carried out a "procedure" on me some years previously. Don't you just love the word procedure, it's a bit like the term ' a Doctor's practice' it doesn't really adequately describe what's going on, especially when it involves a serious session of 'slice and dice'. He did a quick examination and immediately decided the problem was heart related and ushered me across the hall to a cardiologist, who after a quick physical decided I needed an angiogram.
An interesting medical term for a gripping adventure on television when a probe travels up an artery stops outside your heart and squirts coloured liquid into your arteries. All the time while this soap opera is running, you are a gripping audience of one watching the drama unfold and discovering your arteries are seriously blocked...sad! The upshot of this drama was serious heart surgery involving a quadruple bypass, performed over Christmas... some Christmas present. If I ever get my hands on Santa Claus... watch out! This is a long introduction to the tale of the 'bucket list' but hopefully you benefit from the background,
Having recovered to a certain extent, I dusted off my list and decided to 'prioritise' and start seriously working through the long list of objectives. I won't bore you with some of the other items, but number four was something which has been there for a long time and it has a strange sort of interest or fascination for me.
It entails the age old custom of a pilgrimage to Compestela in Northern Spain. In the Middle-ages, if you were a sinner in order to obtain forgiveness and depending on the severity of your transgression it was necessary to undertake a penance. In those days a number of destinations were considered as suitable for pilgrimage.
The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Galacia Spain (dedicated to St. James) has certainly been the most enduring in popularity since the Middle Ages and there are several different starting points and routes, but all have to end in Santiago de Compostela.
Many years ago, I read up on these spiritual practices and was fascinated to discover that the pilgrims going to the shrine in Spain wore a scallop shell around their necks to single them out as pilgrims.
As our Connolly family crest has no
less than 5 scallops shells on it;
I felt the family might
have shares in the shrine.
Hence the desire to see the place and discover why it should have been such a draw card for the Connolly family, whether in fact I'm descended from a long line of sinners... or if there is any connection at all. Don't you just love a good mystery?
Two and a half years after the bypass we are 'in training' which involves associating with some very seriously fit people who run every Saturday as part of parkrun here in
South Africa, which is sponsored by adidas; Blue Label Telecoms and Discovery Vitality,
All three of us, Shireen, Lyn and myself have been part of this merry band for almost one year. Lyn is the greyhound of the three of us, while Shireen and I have succeeded in not being last all the time; there's this five year old kid and his granny we have consistently beaten to the finishing line. Phew!
Well, last Saturday was our last day before the big ‘off’ so we went to Delta parkrun for our final circuit. This time we were up before our breakfast and met at seven and did one circuit before the official circuit began at eight. For the first five kilometres we went in the opposite direction to the usual route.
Because we are by now so super fit, the second circuit followed the usual route and was accomplished in less than our usual time. As is our custom, we joined the ‘faithful gang’ at Doppio Zero’s for the final convivial breakfast, where we discussed our adventure and issued details of the blog-site. If truth be known, we only go to the parkrun for the breakfast afterwards!
To qualify for a Camino certificate when you get to Santiago de Compostela the requirements are a minimum of
- 100 kilometres if you are walking
- 200 kilometres if you are cycling
- 300 kilometres on horseback
Well there you have it, the culmination of our Camino, an interesting mixture of moments filled with pain, laughter, blisters, coffee, hard and soft beds, mostly good food and an abundance of memories to be cherished and recalled later.
Launch of Pretoria’s first parkrun
Please remember the launch of our first Pretoria parkrun on the 28th September at The Voortrekker Monument. And on the 5th October we will be celebrating International parkrun day. Please take photographs and video footage of yourselves at your favourite parkrun and upload them onto the social media pages, Facebook and Twiitter using #loveparkrun
Cheers for now,
Bruce (get in touch)
An Ebotse parkrunner writes...
The startup of Ebotse parkrun on 16th June 2012 could not have been better for me. I had not run since 1998 when I broke my leg quite badly while hiking the Otter Trail. I had resigned myself to being a ‘walker’ even though I desperately missed the feeling of freedom one experiences when running. My daughter surprised me with an entry to the 2012 Skukuza half-marathon and informed me that I would have to do ‘some’ running because my walking pace was too slow to meet the cut-off times. I joined parkrun because I thought it would help me to speed-up my walking pace but when I finished that inaugural parkrun in 35:51, I felt like I had conquered the world! I had run all the way and so I knew if I could run 5 kms, then I was back on track to becoming a “runner” again. In the fifteen months it has taken to become a member of the 50-Club, I have improved my PB by over six and a half minutes and have experienced seven different parkruns - including one in Cambridge, England. Wherever I have run, the atmosphere has been the same; friendly and encouraging with volunteers who have been welcoming and enthusiastic. I have also run two Skukuza half marathons, the Two Oceans half marathon as well as several other races in the colours of Boksburg Athletic club. This has only happened because of the encouragement and motivation I have received from parkrun, my family and good running buddies. Week by week, come rain or shine the run goes on, even in torrential downpours which is fun and gives people like me a chance to finish first! I was also fortunate enough to win a new pair of adidas running shoes for having the most points in our first year - what a motivation to keep running. Something else I get so excited about is seeing all the youngsters out running and engaging in healthy activity – a real thrill! I am so grateful to Bruce, Gill and Iain for starting the Ebotse parkrun and now to Gary, Darryl, Martin, Ian and all the volunteers who manage our event so efficiently. Also thanks to the sponsors without whom parkrun would not be able to operate and make such a positive difference to so many people’s lives.
Keep on running,
Discovery Vitality brings you health tips
Discovery Vitality brings you all the health tips you need to know on your parkrun journey.
Make sure you have the right gear. It’s very important to get expert advice about the correct running shoes for you. This can help prevent blisters and minimize strain on your knees or hips from wearing the wrong shoes. Remember – you can get up to 25% cash back on adidas HealthyGear at adidas and Totalsports stores.
First-time runners often run for longer and burn more energy than more experienced runners. Whether you’re a beginner or a running veteran, remember to drink some water or electrolyte replacement drinks at every opportunity so that you stay hydrated on your run.
Discovery Vitality Team
The fine weather in August saw a steady growth in numbers with just over 170 participants at Woodlands this past weekend. Almost a third of the weekly runners are first timers. The animals are also more active with the dassies coming out for the first time since autumn.
We had many celebrations during August starting with cupcakes for the ladies on women's Day. Then Sarah Haken was the winner of the August Adventure Bootcamp giveaway, sponsored by a regular Woodlands runner, Michelle of Houghton ABC. We also awarded Speedo Horn the parkrunner of the month for August. Speedo received a voucher from SBR Sport in Sunninghill. And Ben from our local coffee shop Go'Spresso has continued to hand out water to the finishers, after he has finished running his parkrun. Robert Green, a regular Delta parkrunner, ran his 50th parkrun earlier in the month.
We are looking forward to having a huge turnout for International parkrun day on 5 October and would love our parkrunners to share what they love about Woodlands parkrun.
On Saturday 7th September, Roodepoort parkrunners had the opportunity to see a pretty ‘pink fairy’ prancing along the parkrun route. It was the start of a very long day for me – yes, it was my bachelors party! Shortly after arriving at parkrun I was ambushed by my best man who then dressed me up in a pink dress along with fairy wings, head gear, lace gloves and a garter. I was also handed a purse, filled with gold fairy dust and was instructed to sprinkle this on runners who made any comments, all while running the route in reverse! Never a dull moment at parkrun.
We are always happy to welcome new parkrunners at our event. Over the past few weeks, we have seen a steady increase in numbers from an average of 70 finishers per event to last weekend’s 144! Well done to everyone for getting out of bed early and heading down to the park every Satruday, I am sure that you are motivated, fulfilled and ready to face the weekend after parkrun.
We have experienced record attendances on a regular basis since the arrival of spring, topping out at a huge 187 runners as well as three visitors from Northern Ireland! We thank you for joining us at Ebotse parkrun and wish you great running experiences in the future!
Ebotse parkrunners; I challenge each and every one of you to bring a friend, or two, to the next few parkruns. Let us set a record number of participants that will stand for some time to come. We will make all the other parkruns envious!
parkrunner of the week
Name: Margaret E McGilp
Club: Not affiliated in the UK (Florida Running club SA)
Home parkrun: Eastleigh, Hampshire, England, UK
Number of runs: 60
PB: Eastleigh 45 runs PB 26.12, Southampton 6 runs PB 26.04, Roodepoort 6 runs PB 29.19, Pontefract 2 runs PB 25.38, Edinburgh 1 run PB 26.04
Number of times volunteered: 15 from April 2013 and 2 in two weeks at Roodepoort parkrun
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: We were too busy talking so we missed two important markers. The course director gave us merry hell.
Favourite volunteer role: Setting up which I do every week/ Timing when I don’t run
What do you like about volunteering at parkrun: As a set up team of about 6 of us we have a good laugh. It’s a good time to build friendships which I have over the year I have run there.
How can we improve volunteering at parkrun: Have someone dedicated to the role of volunteer co-ordinator. There is a co-ordinator at Eastleigh and she emails us with the volunteering role. She is the only one who decides who goes where.