welcome to the newsletter
In this edition of the SA parkrun newsletter, parkrunners are incentivised to volunteer, thanks to Discovery/Vitality. We read all about the parkrun tourists and their parkrun adventures. Frith van der Merwe tells us why she loves parkrun and we find out a bit more about Piggly Wiggly parkrun.
For a some time now we have been trying to show some form of appreciation for our wonderful parkrun volunteers and we are now delighted to announce that Discovery/Vitality have agreed to offer 500 points to those who decide to volunteer on a Saturday morning and who are also Vitality members. We all understand that the spirit of volunteerism is something that cannot adequately be rewarded and also does not anticipate reward but it is always satisfying to recognise the contribution of our volunteers.
In its infancy parkrun South Africa experienced its first growth in 3 parkruns in Johannesburg (Delta Park, Roodepoort and Ebotse). No one would have guessed then, that the 4th parkrun would start in East London at Nahoon Point. Nor would any of us have imagined that for many months Nahoon Point would be the most popular and fastest growing parkrun in South Africa. Well it was and it remains a very successful parkrun making a major contribution to the community of East London. Much of the credit for the success of Nahoon Point parkrun must lie with its founder, Bob Norris who is also parkrun Regional director for Eastern Cape. Bob and his enthusiastic team of volunteers have made Nahoon Point parkrun an example of a truly great parkrun.
This weekend it was a pleasure to run Nahoon Point again and to be able to present Bob Norris with his 100 club black shirt. Bob, thank you for what your have done and congratulations on earning your Black shirt while continuing to act as chief volunteer so often at Nahoon Point.
This Saturday sees the start of Lebone parkrun. The community of Rustenburg has been demanding a parkrun for a while now so it is exciting to see that the hard work of Beth Burrell and Sean Lindsay has finally led to the start of this very interesting and challenging parkrun.
Freedom Runs on Freedom Day, Monday 27 April 2015
A group of keen parkrunners who have decided to run at least 7 parkruns and possibly all 9 runs in the Johannesburg area on Freedom day. The plan is to arrange co-ordinated transport, drinks and snacks and a planned timed itinerary so a large group can take part and enjoy the freedom of parkrun on freedom day.
If you are interested in taking part, helping to co-ordinate or volunteering in any way, please email email@example.com.
Bruce (get in touch)
parkrun SA tourists
Like many of you reading this newsletter know, parkrun has become a bit of an addiction. You probably sometimes wake up early on a Saturday and drag yourself off to the start of your local parkrun, some mornings more bleary-eyed than others. But let’s face it – parkrun is no doubt the biggest fitness craze since Jane Fonda and her 80’s video tapes. People the world over have gone parkrun-mad. From Poland to Parys, they’re arriving in their droves at their local venue to race, run, walk or amble the 5km route.
And then there are a group of parkrun enthusiasts that have taken the 5km obsession to a whole new level. The South African parkrun Tourists, made up of a band of merry men, woman, and children from all ages and walks of life. Professors, bean counters, retirees, cleaners, procurement specialists, office managers, we travel the country (and world) with the aim of completing as many parkrun events as possible.
The obsession with parkrun amongst the Tourists started in earnest some months ago. We would arrive at an inaugural event and see a few familiar faces at the start. Then, the person you saw in Upington suddenly appeared in Bryanston, and then Grahamstown, and so it continued…
After the initial shyness passed, we got chatting and so a bond was formed between a group of people that traverse South Africa by air, car, bus or train, doing the different parkruns.
There are a few events that stand out as being really special, with Nkomazi parkrun being one of them. Situated some 40km south of the Crocodile Bridge Gate to the Kruger National Park, it’s an easy out and back run through the sugar cane fields. Nkomazi is one of a handful of parkrun events that have a 7am start due to the local heat year round. (Upington and Mogol are also on that list). Because of the earlier start at Nkomazi, one of the parkrun Tourists arrived late for the inaugural run, after travelling a long way to be there,. As he pulled into the parking area way after the start, a few already streamed through the finish. So we did what any self-respecting parkrun Tourist would do. We gathered around him and, in the true spirit of parkrun comraderie, ran the 5km with him again.
A lesson learnt is to never judge a book by its cover. When we were at the Nkomazi start – kitted out in fancy adidas running gear, having a little stretch and surveying others arriving - some with no fancy kit, a few barefoot Zola-style. Well they certainly showed us a thing or two about athleticism and sportsmanship. Life lesson learnt: it’s not about the flashy kit, it’s all about heart and attitude.
And that’s what the Tourists love about travelling to these events. We’ve made friends, met wonderful people making a difference, and seen so much of this beautiful country we all call home. Whilst some are competitive, others are there for the pure joy of running/walking and adventure. The tourists are always welcomed warmly by the local event directors and volunteers. And sometimes even interviewed by local newspapers and treated as minor celebrities!
By March this year there will be 50 parkrun venues in South Africa, some in far flung places. We are privileged to try and visit them all and support the local economies through accommodation, food and drinks, and sightseeing. Buying a cap that says 'Cannibal's Cave' or donating old running shoes to those who have none all contributes to supporting these communities.
We salute the event directors and volunteers that make our Saturday mornings special all over the country. You are enriching our lives. See you at the start (somewhere in South Africa!) on Saturday; we are looking forward to many more adventures and to meet more people in the parkrun family!
You can follow the tourist’s progress on the parkrun website under the “most events” tab, or click here:. This page includes details of all the Tourists that have done 15 or more different events in South Africa.
Modern Athlete Magazine
Ask an adidas technical expert
From 28th February 2015, adidas technical experts will be found at selected parkruns nationwide.
They will be at the parkruns to give the runner an opportunity to test adidas running shoes for free and do personalised footscans, allowing them to get the best solution for their unique running style.
Come down to one of the below selected parkruns on Saturday 28th February, and ask the experts for advice.
· Cape Town – Greenpoint, Rondebosch, Big Bay, Root 44
· Johannesburg – Ebotse, Rietvlei, Roodeport, Woodlands, Bryanston, Lonehill, Alberts Farm, Modderfontein
· Pretoria – Voortrekker
· Durban – North Beach, Shongweni, Umhlanga
Boost your run with adidas
The adidas technical experts will be running an exciting competition during the month of March. Wear your boost running shoes to parkrun, take a photo on the adidas ‘shoefie’ mat and upload it to Twitter tagging @adidasZA, and you’ll automatically stand the chance of winning adidas running hampers valued at R2000 or an adidas miCoach SMART RUN device valued at R4999.
Terms and Conditions apply
Have you completed all your Vitality health checks? You can do these both online and at our partner networks. Earn thousands of Vitality points while you find out how healthy you are.
Not a Vitality member? Visit www.discovery.co.za or SMS “Vitality” to 48030 to join.
parkrun benefitting junior track athletes
I have become a regular parkrunner at Ebotse parkrun. I have noticed how my students’ athletic abilities have improved. Initially I ran faster times than all of them, except for one, and I announced at the start that any Benoni High athlete beating their teacher would be placed in a three hour detention the following Friday afternoon! Despite my threat, they cruise past me saying “Come on, Ma’am”.
On the serious side, the improvements in these athletes’ times have been phenomenal! I attribute this to the parkrun. A particular fourteen year-old boy, Ryan, came nowhere in the 3000m and 1500m at the inter-house sports. I noticed how his times were improving astronomically at the parkrun and I was certain that this would be manifested on the track. Yesterday, he finished second in the 3000m at the inter-school competition and shaved two minutes off his time!
The parkrun builds strength, endurance and speed. The “off-road” terrain makes the track and road easy! Ryan is not the only athlete that has improved drastically by running the parkrun regularly. I could submit a list of names – enough to fill my class with a Friday afternoon detention!
Frith van der Merwe
(Frith van der Merwe is the greatest female ultra-distance runner South Africa has ever known. She has won dozens of shorter road races and standard marathons but is most famous for her wins in ultra-distance races such as the City to City 50km., The 56km Pieter Korkie race where she finished 10th overall) the Bergville 52km. and the Two Oceans 56km. But she is most famous for her 3 wins in the famous Comrades marathon and in particular her spectacular win in the 1989 Comrades when she became the first woman to break the 6 hour barrier and finished 15th overall)
Piggly Wiggly parkrun
Piggly Wiggly parkrun was the brainchild of Greg Gibson who approached Rudi Kassier, owner of Piggly Wiggly, with his ideas of bringing fitness programmes to the Midlands. Rudi provided the machinery and staff to cut the track as well as the start and finish banners and the signage along the track and, after weeks of hard work by all concerned, Piggly Wiggly parkrun was born.
The first run took place in freezing conditions (-2) on 19 July 2014. As with all parkruns, Bruce Fordyce ran the inaugural with approximately 82 finishers in total. When Greg went overseas, I took over as Event Director.
Since that first run, the numbers have increased to around 110 where we are at present. The event takes place at the well-known Piggly Wiggly, Lions River, KZN Midlands every Saturday morning at 08h00 and the scenery is beautiful. We have walkers, runners, old and young and it’s encouraging to see more and more families taking part. Piggly Wiggly also offers a parkrun breakfast to all runners with a barcode for a very nominal fee and makes for a very sociable event.
As with all parkruns, the event is managed solely by volunteers and are free of charge for anyone wishing to run or walk. The only requirement is that one registers on the parkrun website and prints out their barcode which is scanned at the end of the run.
feedback from the field
I attempted my first parkrun at Woodlands last Saturday with my three children of 7, 6 and 6. At the “halfway” mark (the first lap around the pond) the twins stopped as they were too tired and after a family “conference” decided they had had enough. What to do? Although I am unfit and carrying a few extra kilos (ok many extra kilos), my 7-year old and I decided we were finishing this! At this stage we were dead last but a kind volunteer – and I have forgotten his name L - stepped in and offered to keep an eye on them while we completed the course. His words were “It should take 10 or so minutes”. I think about TWENTY minutes later when I was dragged myself toward him and my 7-year old skipped toward him (as they do…), he patiently waited and encouraged us to complete the course. Indeed we did, and my daughter and I actually finished in just over an hour! As we finished, the kind volunteers were waiting for us, and coming down the grassy slope felt like we were completing the amazing event as FIRST finisher – hoping all the other contestants were behind us! Sadly the parking lot was already empty….
This may seem like a non-achievement to others but to me this is a HUGE step in the direction of a healthy lifestyle and I am INCREDIBLY proud of my 7-year old, who I think was one of only three under 10 year old little girls to complete the course. She is a real trouper and my little coach!
Thank-you for this incredible event!
Ciara Craul Reintjes
Drop us an email if you have an interesting parkrun related fact, happening or comment that you would like to share with all parkrunners.