welcome to the newsletter
In this edition of the SA parkrun newsletter, we celebrate parkrunners across South Africa joining the 50 and 100 clubs, catch up with the Roodepoort Raiders and see the launch of two new parkruns at Pongola and Constantia Greenbelt. We also celebrate our parkrunner of the week, Melanie Nel from Aliwal North parkrun.
By the time I write the next newsletter parkrun South Africa will be celebrating its 4th birthday. It is amazing to think that in four years parkrun’s numbers have swelled from 26 registered runners at one parkrun venue to 290,000 at 67 different venues. Perhaps even more astonishing is the fact that we now have a number of senior parkrunners who have almost completed 200 parkruns. In fact Tracy Rankin has run 200 parkruns and Dieter Meyer, Brian Thomas and Willem Loison are hot on her heels. The 200 mark is not celebrated with a special club Tee but by this time next year these 4 runners will become the first South Africans to wear the coveted 250 club shirt.
While he may be quite a few parkruns behind these celebrated parkrunners in completed runs, Ari Serlis is no less committed. Ari is a prominent member of the 50 club at Durban’s North Beach and is considered one of the characters of the very popular parkrun. Because Ari uses a wheelchair he is also the only 50 club member to have his “50” emblazoned on the front of his shirt. We can’t wait to see you in the black 100 club shirt, Ari!
I started the last newsletter in a slightly grumpy tone when I reminded parkrunners of the “No Barcode, No Result” rule. I need to complete my message with another reminder. We have had some reports of parkrunners and volunteers being rude to mountain bikers and other park users. I remind everyone that with the exception of one or two private venues we do not own our parks and nature reserves. parkrunners understand that we share these safe, traffic free environments with other park users and should try to be as courteous as possible at all times. In many cases park users get used to the fact that for an hour on a Saturday morning the parkrunners are “at it again” and they steer clear, or join in. But still we must be aware that our open areas are for everyone and they are not exclusively reserved for parkrun.
Roodepoort parkrun is the second oldest parkrun in South Africa and has built a loyal and regular following, with upwards of 500 participants every Saturday morning. It is with great sadness that Roodepoort said goodbye and bon voyage to event director Philip Gray, who left for New Zealand last week. Keith Norman has swiftly stepped into the breach but we know that Philip will soon be making his event management skills available at a parkrun in New Zealand. It is one thing for the Kiwis to beat us at rugby but now they’re taking our best volunteers as well!!
Roodepoort is also famous for the Roodepoort Raiders, a group of passionate parkrunners from Roodepoort who regularly “raid” other parkruns. There is no mistaking the Roodepoort Raiders; led by Keith “Kip” Norman, they are all 50 and 100 club members and they wear distinctive pink caps. They are also a boisterous and cheerful lot who are famous in SA parkrun circles.
A fortnight ago KZN sugar cane country launched a parkrun in the Pongola sugar mill grounds. Zelda Ackerman is the event director at Pongola parkrun, which is run close to the Swaziland border. A small but enthusiastic crowd of locals were present to run on the flat, fast concrete road and grass path route. It was a typical KZN hot, humid day but the parkrunners were shaded by the avenues of tall, old trees which line the route. Pongola parkrun has a very unique old world feel and I look forward to running it again in the near future.
Last Saturday we launched Constantia Greenbelt parkrun on a perfect bright morning in Cape Town. Over 500 parkrunners arrived to run the beautiful trail parkrun route through the trees and along the challenging paths in the shadows of Cape Town’s famous mountains. Mike and Rene Scott have assembled an enthusiastic group of volunteers and we have no doubt that Constantia Green belt will add its name to the list of most popular SA parkruns. Rene is a highly successful triathlete and has won two gold medals in the Comrades marathon. She and Mike first approached us about starting a parkrun and contributing to their community earlier in the year at the launch of the Bellville parkrun. It is always good to see how one parkrun can inspire the start of another.
Bruce (get in touch)
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Celebration at St Francis parkrun
Saturday 24th October was a big day of celebration at St Francis parkrun when two of their parkrunners, Felix Muchika and Pam Stark ran their 100th parkruns, the first for St Francis to qualify for membership of the 100 club. Pam was also the first lady to have completed 50 parkruns and Felix the second male.
The day also showed the true spirit of St Francis parkrun, “we do it our way.”
To fit in with the parkrun tradition of being brought in with “the flag”, huge planning took place behind the scenes for this special day. Felix (VM60-64) always finishes in the top 3, so very few runners had seen him finish before – one of the privileges of being a volunteer is to see this “old man” dusting off the rest of the field. His fellow runner and employer Colleen Butler, and sister Yvonne Robb started their run shortly after 07:00 in order to be at the finish line with the new black flag to run the last bit with Felix. More parkrunners, especially the 50 club members, sacrificed their run (or walk!) to be at the finish line to cheer for Felix.
On Saturday, Colleen and Yvonne, together with a small crowd, brought Felix in, who then turned back to fetch Pam so they could finish together. A larger crowd accompanied her to the finish.
For a moment we were afraid that Pam thought she could keep the new black flag, as she picked it up and started to run back – to finish a second time with another large crowd next to her husband Mike!
Event Director and timekeeper Eric Stewart had to focus quite hard to keep track of those who were actually finishing for the first time and those who were just joining in the celebration. We surely do it our own way in St Francis!
“Although we celebrated Felix and Pam’s amazing achievement, it was a happy day for all of us,” says Eric Stewart, who, together with his wife Esti, volunteered for the 101st time that same day. “St Francis parkrun is one of the smallest parkruns, but we are one big family – you say good morning with a hug and a kiss and runners are missed very quickly. The ages vary from too young to register up to close to 90, who are our sweepers! It is great to see young and old get up every Saturday to run – despite their age, their health, no matter the weather. We know we have a large number or cancer survivors, and people with old injuries – they are always there doing their best, supporting one another. At parkrun we are one, we are family, and it remains a privilege to be part of it.”
Hermanus parkrun 31 October 2015
Grey Goose parkrun 07 November 2015
parkrun Cancellations :
Bellville parkrun 31 October 2015
Nahoon Point parkrun 31 October 2015
Big Bay parkrun 07 November 2015
parkrun Anniversaries :
North Beach parkrun 07 November 2015
Stutterheim parkrun 07 November 2015
feedback from the field
It has been a while since we have provided you with an update on the parkrun Raiders, their achievements and shenanigans. The parkrun Raiders were established shortly after the Roodepoort parkrun launched. We are a group of 11 – 77 year old parkrun tourists that “raid” an alternate parkrun in the Jozi and Pretoria areas every other week. The Raiders are mainly made up of Florida Running Club members; however there are members of other clubs such as Pirates, Golden Reef and Roodepoort who join us. We have a number of serious speedsters who regularly run a top 10 position at most parkruns. The rest of us, well we try to compete in our age categories!
The parkrun Raiders are not all about “raiding” park runs. We recently presented you with a pink “Raiders” cap at the Golden Harvest parkrun during one of our “raids”. The significance of the cap is, it was made specifically for the Raiders, everyone paid a small donation for the cap and what did we do with the proceeds? With the proceeds and other donations we started fixing the derelict lapa at Len Rutter Park, thus ensuring that we had new toilets fitted, running water and proper ablutions. Mike Watts and George Karas were very instrumental in fixing up the lapa ablutions with the assistance of George Taylor, who has not raided with us yet. We will however drag him out soon. The lapa is now secured with metal shutters and a security fence, we have James the “minder” who now stays in the lapa and cleans up the park for us on a weekly basis. George Taylor is also instrumental in ensuring that the grass is cut regularly. When we held our second anniversary last year, Mike Megannon organized a tip and a gang of cleaners and the park was cleaned and spruced up for all to enjoy.
The Len Rutter Park once boasted of a beautiful dam with swans and ducks, sadly the park has been neglected over the last number of years. We have a good relationship with the local councilor who approached us recently and planted some more trees along our route. Slowly but surely we are getting our park back. The Raiders all volunteer for parkrun duty at least once a month and some of us form a part of the Roodepoort parkrun core volunteering teams. Not only has parkrun has become a big event in our community on a Saturday morning, but a number of runners have started their “running career” on our hallowed turf.
Kip (Head Raider at large)
I just received my 50 parkrun t-shirt today and thought it appropriate to thank the South Africa and George parkrun teams for the great things that you guys are doing. parkrun has become a big part of my life and judging by the attendance that I see the same applies to many others. You are certainly making a positive and fun difference to the overall fitness of many in the SA population. Also thank you to the sponsors for making it all possible - the technology is particularly impressive.
Thank you George parkrun team - you guys are the best! You run our parkruns in a highly efficient and friendly manner - thank you!
My wife (of 31 years) recently completed and earned her red 50 parkruns shirt. In my haste to get her red shirt, as we were going to the UK and both wanted our red SA Flag branded “50” shirts – I made a cardinal mistake – I actually ordered a “50” shirt that is too small.
After 30 years of the eternal question “Do I look too big / fat in this?” – I got it wrong. She collected her small size on Saturday and is really “grumpy” and she should have had a medium. – She has the shirt in its plastic bag unused. Is it at all possible to have this changed – just so she loves me again?
PS: We ran the Barnsley Yorkshire parkrun in Locke Park – a magnificent park – on 26th September. I had my “50” shirt and a SA Flag Buff and Helen also had a SA Flag Buff We of course had to put up with a lot of “Yorkshire chirping” about the Boks and what had “jappened” the week before. Of course that night England went into mourning.
PPS: My dog, Kandas – the sole reason the wife and I run – is now is almost at 100 parkruns. He is now a legend at Roodepoort Len Rutter Park. Loved by many runners who when they pass us always say “Hi Kandas!” No one notices me being dragged behind him!
Drop us an email if you have an interesting parkrun related fact, happening or comment that you would like to share with all parkrunners.
parkrunner of the week
Name: Melanie Nel
Home parkrun: Aliwal North
Number of runs: 5
Number of times volunteered: 13
What do you like about parkrun: I love the atmosphere and positivity of parkrunners
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: When one lady literally fell over the finish line in an attempt to get a PB.
Why should others volunteer at parkrun?: It is helping the community to achieve a better lifestyle, so please volunteer. It is a lot of fun!
What fellow volunteers say about them:: Melanie is our most dedicated volunteer. She has been there for us since the start of our parkrun. She completed 3 of our parkruns then unfortunately had to have a knee operation which did not stop her from volunteering on 10 occasions.