welcome to the newsletter
In this edition of the SA parkrun newsletter, we look at similarities and difference with parkruns in the UK and hear about Harrismith parkrun’s first birthday celebrations. We also hear from parkrunners around South Africa and celebrate our parkrunner of the week, Hans Venter from Potchefstroom parkrun.
I have just returned from a trip to the UK, where I was a guest speaker at the UltraMag ultra marathon runners’ festival. It certainly was a fascinating gathering of some of the world’s best ultra-marathoners. Obviously I am very proud of some of my achievements and showed off some of my race finishers T-shirts but I found it quite intimidating meeting a runner with a T-shirt boasting the words “Trans America challenge” or “Paris to Tokyo run”.
While in the UK, Gill and I couldn’t resist the opportunity of running a couple of UK parkruns. We ran Southwick parkrun in Wiltshire and the most northerly UK parkrun, Elgin, in Scotland. We were warmly welcomed at both parkruns and I was reminded what makes parkrun so special all over the world.
Apart from the warm welcome visitors receive at parkruns, there are some things that are universal about parkrun and that never change. All parkruns are run or walked over 5 kilometres. parkruns are run on Saturday mornings and are free of any charge. Participants are asked to register and print a barcode and bring that barcode with them to the parkrun so that they can receive their results. parkruns are organised and managed by teams of wonderful volunteers who give their time freely to make each parkrun successful.
After that, each parkrun is unique. Each has its own course and its own unique team of volunteers. Many have ideas from which other parkruns could learn. At Southwick I was impressed by the group of volunteers who acted as pacemakers for those runners aiming for certain finishing times. These pacemakers wore bibs with “sub 30” or “sub 28” clearly emblazoned on the back. Those hoping to break a barrier simply followed the relevant pacemaker. At the same time, the pacemaker could double-up by volunteering while running and recording a parkrun finish. I also loved the Southwick gong, which hangs from a tree at the finish. Those runners who record a P.B. are welcome to hit the gong to announce and celebrate their achievement.
At Elgin, one volunteer walks at the back of the entire field as a “tail runner” escorting the last to the finish. While the backmarkers love the company, the volunteers also recognise that when the tail runner finishes they can start dismantling their parkrun finish area.
I am delighted that we are receiving more interest for parkruns from rural and outlying areas. While there are some challenges in starting these parkruns, parkrun SA welcomes the challenge. We are proud of parkruns such as Nkomazi and Cannibals Cave, which have made great strides in their communities and we look forward to more joining the parkrun family.
I apologise to all those who have been patiently waiting for their club/milestone shirts. I can now offer some good news in that Mr Price Sport will this week start to deal with the backlog of T-shirt orders from last year. These shirts will be couriered to your home run. Please contact your home run via their email to arrange collection of your T-shirt. Mr Price Sport will advise us when the remainder will be available.
Cheers for now,
Bruce (get in touch)
The temperatures might have dropped but the parkruns aren’t going to stop! This weekend we’re celebrating Ebotse’s fourth parkrun anniversary! Congrats on reaching this epic milestone, Ebotse! Here’s to many more! parkrunners, if you’re in the Benoni area, join us, come say “Hi”, and let’s make it a big one for their anniversary!
As of the 18th of June, the remaining achievement tees from 2015 will be available for collection from your home parkrun event director. Please attend your home parkrun or contact them to collect your T-shirt. Once tees for this year are available, we’ll let you know! In the meantime, keep on going for that next big parkrun milestone!
And don’t forget to get kitted out for your next parkrun or active weekend online at www.mrpsport.com or in-store at your nearest MRP Sport store!
Train your eyes to #MoveMore
parkrunners: keeping our bodies fit and strong is something we all aspire to, but did you know there are muscles in our eyes that we often forget to work out? Just like the muscles in the rest of our body, our sporting skills, concentration and reading skills can be trained to improve. This is especially important for growing kids.
Your kids can strengthen their visual fitness by training with EyeGym - a course that is customised and available to kids for free. Visit www.discovery.co.za, click on Vitality > Parenting > EyeGym for more information. Plus you can earn Vitality Points for completing the course.
Ebotse parkrun 18 June 2016
Aliwal North parkrun 25 June 2016
Cannibals Cave parkrun 25 June 2016
Kidds Beach parkrun 25 June 2016
Nahoon Point parkrun until further notice
Shongweni parkrun 18 June 2016
Voortrekker Monument parkrun 02 July 2016
feedback from the field
On Saturday, 21 May 2016, 72 enthusiastic parkrunners gathered to celebrate Harrismith parkrun’s first birthday. Harrismith parkrun started on 23 May 2015, and since then 563 different runners, including participants from 28 athletics clubs, have completed 2,979 runs covering a total distance of 14,895 km, and there have been 713 new Personal Bests Total running time: 89Days 23Hrs 8Min 33Secs. Our current course record is set at 16:18min, which is proudly held by Buti Isaac Mokoena, a local Harrismithian.
We are very lucky to attract visitors from all over as they travel to/from the coast; we also get international visitors, & were privileged to host the founding father of parkrun, Paul Sinton-Hewitt & his wife Jo, when they were visiting SA recently.
I have never liked running before, but I wanted my three sons to grow up with a different attitude and parkrun seemed like a good way to start them off. Getting up on a Saturday morning for Dusi parkrun has become a family ritual now and we all look forward to it (even me). Now I'm proud to say my wife, Michelle, and sons, Roger (8), Simon (8) and Grant (5 - nearly 6),have all done their fiftieth and their times are improving quite nicely. I'm the only one that hasn't done fifty yet but am getting close.
I think the whole concept is brilliant and the originator and organisers deserve the Nobel Prize.
During June 2014, our daughter, Dianne Dempsey, came to visit us from Johannesburg with her children during the school holidays and said: “I am registering you for parkrun,” which she kindly did for us. She went to get our barcodes printed and laminated, put them on my bed and said, “Now we run!”
On the Saturday, she said that we are all going to do the parkrun, and I said that I wasn’t ready yet, so my husband, Carlos, my youngest daughter, Ash, and Dianne went to Nahoon Point to the run. Carlos finished the run in under 25 minutes and they all really enjoyed it, so I began to think that maybe I am missing out on something! It took me about 4 weeks to prepare myself to participate in my first parkrun.
Very apprehensive at first, I watched all the people gathering on the beach to get started. The countdown began: 3, 2, 1 – and that is where my love for running started! I walked all the way and thought to myself, “What am I doing here?” But, the next week, I went to parkrun and walked and ran a bit. My time wasn’t great, but I persevered, thinking, “What have I missed these past months?”
My granddaughter, Lua, who was 2 years old at the time, said, “Nana, you can do this!” So when I started at the starting point, that is exactly what I told myself “I can do it” My timing got better and better, I am fitter and stronger and I have more confidence. To such an extent, that I have entered many other running events. One that was very special to me was running the Discovery Surfers Challenge in February 2016. I ran the 17.5km race on the beach with my daughter Dianne, a day that I will never forget and one that we are both very proud of.
I soon realised that my 50th Parkrun was coming up for 26 March 2016. I marked off each Saturday until the day arrived and I was blessed to have two of my sisters, my niece, nephew and husband run with me. Thanks to all the volunteers and organizers of parkrun across the world – it wouldn’t happen without your dedication!
I am so excited when I hear that I have encouraged others to join parkrun. So many people have said to me that I have insp
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: Hans Venter
Home parkrun: Potchefstroom
Occupation: S.A.P.S. –Tracker Dog Handler
Number of runs: 113
Number of times volunteered: 13
How has parkrun changed your running: From starting parkrun in February 2014, I now also run in the week and participate in other races
What do you like about parkrun: Socialising with runners and volunteers
Most memorable or funniest parkrun moment: Running my 100th parkrun at the opening of Hartbeespoort parkrun with Bruce Fordyce.
Trail or Road Running?: 60% Trail / 40% road
Favourite volunteer role: Timekeeper
Why should others volunteer at parkrun: To make the event successful
What fellow volunteers say about Hans: Hans is a quiet, friendly person who is always willing to help volunteers with the pre-event setup and post-event close down. He never misses a parkrun unless he has to work at the weekend.