Last week parkrun CEO Nick Pearson travelled to Canada with James Kemp, parkrun’s Global Operations Manager to meet with the local event teams and to understand more about what they need to support their growth and implement their strategy for engaging with communities and planning new events. While Nick was in Canada, he wrote the following piece that went out to UK parkrunners:
Saturday 1 July was Canada’s 150th anniversary, but it won’t be long before a small but burgeoning community in the world’s second largest country will be celebrating a significant milestone of their own – the first anniversary of parkrun Canada.
Last August we were proud to see the launch of parkrun in Canada, the 13th parkrun country to join our global family. Starting with Okanagan parkrun in British Columbia, there are now nine parkruns across four provinces and another 20 prospective events in the pipeline.
parkrun has certainly captured the imagination of Canadians in the same way as in many other countries. We’ve seen more than 1,000 new registrations over the past few months alone and people from all over the country are coming forward every week with a vision to bring parkrun to their community.
parkrun in North America as a whole – both in the USA and more recently in Canada – will play a major part in our long-term ambition to make the world a healthier and happier place, and we are now at the stage where both these countries are gaining significant momentum.
Setting up and growing parkrun in a new country is an incredibly challenging undertaking for a prospective volunteer Country Manager. Euan Bowman, who heads up parkrun Canada, and all of his fellow volunteers should be congratulated for all that they have achieved within their first year. Developing parkrun nationally is not just about getting landowner, local authority and community support for a single event – it requires a long-term strategy that ensures continued growth and sustainability while protecting parkrun’s principals.
Canada has extra considerations too, such as the French speaking province of Québec, and the challenge of the monumental distances involved. From Whistler parkrun in the west to Saint-Paulin parkrun in the east is more than 4,000 kilometres in a straight line – the same distance as Belfast to Cairo – and neither of those parkruns are even coastal.
Filling in this geographical gap and expanding to the other provinces and territories is a massive undertaking and one that we are fully committed to. In addition to the big cities, there are hundreds of small pocket communities throughout Canada, including many First Nation Communities.
Making parkrun accessible geographically to a high percentage of the population, and to those communities who have the most to benefit from free physical activity and volunteering, is a hugely exciting prospect. Saint-Paulin has a population of just 1,500 but the parkrun there is going from strength to strength, proving that parkruns in less densely populated areas can thrive.
We are lucky in other parkrun countries to have support from local and national government, health authorities, conservation organisations and athletics bodies. Securing that type of support in Canada will help pave the way for parkrun to have a profound impact on many more lives.
One of the questions we often get asked is, ‘Can I bring my dog to parkrun?’ We’re lucky at Kanata as we are able to welcome our four-legged friends. In fact, the local dog walkers are the reason we can use our route year round. They happily pack down the route without realising their contribution…
Nous avons souvent la question suivante : « puis-je faire mon parkrun avec mon chien? » Nous sommes chanceux ici à Kanata, car nous pouvons accueillir nos amis à quatre pattes. En fait, c’est grâce à ceux qui promènent leurs chiens dans la communauté que nous pouvons faire parkrun à longueur d’année. Ils compactent la neige en…