Ten years ago (in 2004) a fantastic initiative was launched in England. The idea was to have free, timed runs over a standard distance of five kilometres in various public open spaces (parks, green belts, beaches, recreation areas, etc), open to everybody and preferably not on roads or paved surfaces. There would be no cost or entrance criteria whatsover - anybody, young or old, fit or otherwise, could participate ; walkers, dogs and people with prams would also be encouraged to take part. A web site was set up at www.parkrun.com and anybody who was interested could apply to set up a park run in their neighbourhood. Software was written to allow event organizers to capture runners' times via bar codes, which could later be uploaded to the park run server so that runners could look at their results and times across all park run events in the world. Park runs are generally held at 8 AM on Saturday mornings, and the only thing runners need to do is register on the park run web site to obtain a personalised bar code.
And thus was born the concept of Park Running. It was a phenomenal success in the United Kingdom, so much so that it was soon introduced into other countries - Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia amongst others. Park running was brought to South Africa by ultra-distance running legend Bruce Fordyce (best remembered for his unprecedented nine victories at the Comrades Marathon in Natal, eight of which were consecutive), and he still tries to attend the inaugural run of each new park run event in South Africa.I am a very average middle-aged non-competitive runner ; my weekly mileage is about 18 kilometres and I run primarily to keep fit and stay healthy (although in my younger days I did complete six half marathons, with a best time of 1:34:58). I was unfortunately away in December 2013 when a park run was launched in the wetlands no more than two blocks from where I live, so I missed meeting Bruce Fordyce (who officially opened the route) and taking part in the first run of my local event.
|South Africa||: www.parkrun.co.za|
|Fish Hoek||: www.parkrun.co.za/fishhoek|
|Register at||: www.parkrun.co.za/register|
So if you haven't already done so, register TODAY and join a Park Run in your area this weekend!