Volunteering at parkrun. “What’s parkrun?”

Hello! Happy Canada Day!

OK . . . if you ask a friend to come to parkrun and they say back to you, “What’s parkrun?”,  you’re probably not in one of the many countries where parkrun is hugely popular. That’s to say countries like the UK where if you haven’t heard of parkrun then you’re probably a hermit living in a cave; or South Africa, where their North Beach parkrun has an attendance record of over 2000 people; or Australia, which I know is popular because I’ve been told that by the many Australian parkrun tourists I’ve met at Richmond Olympic parkrun.

Briefly, parkrun is a free, weekly, timed 5km running event, aimed at making the world a healthier and happier place – and it’s an addiction!

I’ve run ten parkruns. My first ones were in Inverness, Scotland in 2015. That time, two years ago, I was back home packing up and selling my wee Inverness flat. Every Saturday morning I joined my running pals up there in the North of Scotland to do parkrun. I have very happy memories of these three muddy loops of the playing fields near the sports centre in Inverness. It was there that I became a parkrunner. I missed it when I returned to my now-home-country Canada.

But, to my joy, parkrun came to Canada in August 2016.  It’s still very new here. Canada is a country where people, even runners,  will most definitely ask you, “What’s parkrun?”!

My home parkrun is Richmond Olympic. It’s run on a footpath that follows the majestic Fraser River. It’s a beautiful setting with the river beside you and snow-capped, pointy peaks in the distance beyond Vancouver. As well as getting to stare in awe at these views, you get to watch jet planes close-up as they come into land at Vancouver International Airport. The flight path is directly over the start line, and the planes are close enough that you can read the writing on the underside of the wings.

 

 

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The Fraser River at Richmond. Photo thanks to Lisa Mah, Richmond Olympic parkrun’s volunteer photographer. Her photos are amazing. Check them out on FB.

 

Parkrun is run by volunteers and volunteering was high on my to-do list. And so, last Saturday I went to parkrun as a volunteer for the first time.

On that first volunteer day, I was a marshal at the turnaround point on the out and back course.

 

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My marshal station

 

There, I had so much fun cheering the runners on and getting thanked by the runners. You’ve got to go and be a volunteer at parkrun. You get thanked all the time—thanked for having fun!

I also got to see some of the Canadian racewalking team who just happened to be out for a training “stroll”.

 

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Olympian Evan Dunfee, seen during parkrun last week. Thanks to Lisa Mah for this photo.

 

Lots of people out for their morning walk or run asked me what the event was. When I said, “parkrun” many stared at me blankly. Some asked me, “What’s parkrun?”

“It’s a free, weekly, timed 5 km event. Come along next week,” I said to them all. “You’ll love it.”

 

Here are some links with more answers to that question.

Global Parkrun

Parkrun Canada

Parkrun UK – where it all began (at Bushy Park) in 2004!

So . . . go to a website and get your barcode and stop missing out on one of the best running events ever devised! Hopefully, there’s an event near you. If not, next time you’re travelling see if there’s a parkrun close by and go along with your barcode. You’ll be welcomed as a parkrun tourist with smiley faces and open arms.

 

 

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