2017 was another exceptional 12 months for the parkrun community in Australia. Statistically we continued to grow significantly across every key measure whilst continuing to deliver an incredibly high standard of free, weekly, timed 5km events in all corners of the country.
We saw parkrun launch in 66 new locations, including Koonwarra and Timboon, both small towns in Victoria with populations of less than 900; in Port Hedland, our first event North of the 26th parallel in the Pilbara Region in WA; and in Cloncurry, a rural mining town in north-west of Queensland.
Registrations grew by 144,767 to 539,006 and we saw an incredible 1.5 million run performances recorded! This simply could not have been achieved without the continued enthusiasm and passion of 34,470 volunteers who volunteered on 115,137 occasions and I would like to publicly pay tribute to each and every one of them here.
Our growth is made possible by the fantastic support we receive from our partners. Medibank’s Free and Active initiative has allowed us to launch new events and these launches will continue into 2018. Together with Medibank, we want Australians to get together and get moving so keep watching our calendar to see if a new event is coming to a location near you soon.
Other initiatives we have driven with Medibank have been diverse and include everything from a competition to win tickets to the Australian Open tennis to providing dog water bowls to every event! However, the true highlight was in May when we ran a competition with Medibank to ‘Experience your ultimate parkrun’.
The response was enormous with entries from all over the country. With so many worthy submissions, the team at Medibank had a tough choice in picking the winner but the intrigue of visiting, perhaps our most remote parkrun, won Jennine and Brendon Sellers from Brightwater parkrun an all expenses paid weekend away to Weipa parkrun in far north Queensland. Click here to read about their incredible weekend.
In April we helped drive the Federal Health Department’s ‘Girls Make Your Move’ campaign with the goal of encouraging teenage girls to get active. It involved a national launch day on April 1 with activations at South Bank (Brisbane), Diamond Creek (Melbourne), Torrens (Adelaide), Cooks River (Sydney), Burley Griffin (Canberra) and Rockingham (Western Australia).
Our partnership with Athletics Australia continues to grow with the highlight being our involvement at the inaugural Nitro Athletics series in February. Special mention must go to Albert Melbourne parkrun Event Directors Joanne and Scott Watkins who moved their event onto the track inside Lakeside Athletics Stadium for the day and saw 997 finishers and 58 volunteers participate (both Australian records). We look forward to continuing to grow our relationship with Athletics Australia under new CEO (and Curl Curl parkrunner) Darren Gocher.
As always, the human resource continues to be our most valuable asset and we have added to the team significantly this year. With 264 active events, supporting our volunteers is the key focus of our staff.
In February, Gold Coast based Kelly May commenced as Chief Financial Officer. Kelly has been voluntarily managing our accounts for several years so her transition into staff was seamless.
In the same month, Scott Trickett joined us full time as Marketing & Communications Manager. Scott was the founding Event Director at Westerfolds parkrun, a long-serving Territory Director and was very much filling this role in a voluntary capacity prior to this position becoming available. I would like to thank Scott for everything he has brought to the organisation this year.
In March Nikki Waterfall joined the staff as Operations Assistant directly supporting Chief Operating Officer, Renee Gimbert. Nikki was the founding Event Director at Diamond Creek parkrun and has served on the parkrun Australia Board. Nikki brings to us, amongst other things, humanity and empathy, qualities that are crucial when managing such a large volunteer team.
In August Carol Cunningham joined our Operations team. This was somewhat of a homecoming for Carol as she was the founding Event Director of our third event, Albert Melbourne parkrun, back in November 2011. She was also Founder of our first event in Asia, East Coast Park parkrun in Singapore.
The last of our staff additions came in September when Belinda Mawhinney started as our Safeguarding Lead. Belinda’s focus is to develop our safeguarding policies for junior parkrun which we are planning to launch in 2018.
One of our ambitious goals for 2017 was to see every event have access to a defibrillator. As such, in February we launched our ‘Defibs 4 parkrun Australia’ campaign in partnership with the Australian Sports Foundation, Physio Control, First Aid Accident & Emergency and Guy Leech. This was the first time we have ever reached out to the parkrun community on a large scale and asked for donations. We were overwhelmed by the response and the campaign has seen $216,113 donated by the generous parkrun community. I’m thrilled to say that 235 of our 266 events now have access to a defibrillator!
In closing, I would like to thank all of our Staff, Board Members, Event Ambassadors, Event Directors and their teams for the countless hours they have all given up over the last 12 months to continue to bring parkrun to their communities. These people are the true heroes of parkrun and their efforts have changed for the better the lives of hundreds of thousands of Australians.
I wasn’t sure about parkrun… The Gardiners Creek parkrun launch was my first parkrun. On the way to launch, I asked my husband (a passionate parkrunner) “why were we driving 10 minutes from home to get on a running track with strangers for a group run, when we could do a run anytime on…
Saturday I ran my 50th parkrun at Burley Griffin in Canberra. It was an extra special milestone for me, as it also marked four years since the day I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014. At 27 years of age, a cancer diagnosis came as a complete shock. I had graduated from university…