News - 7th December 2017
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Would you buy a sofa without sitting on it first? (and what does this have to do with parkrun…?)

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Would you buy a sofa without sitting on it first? Sure, you can look at all the pictures. You can read marketing blurb or customer reviews. But how do you really know what you’re ordering, if you’ve never seen it or sat on it yourself? Of course, the majority of people wouldn’t.

 

For a similar reason, many of the main organizers and volunteers of our 12 events bringing the joy of parkrun to hundreds of Canadians have run a parkrun before.

 

It makes sense. Take Event Directors Aneez (Whitby), Suzanne (Nose Hill), Valerie (Frederic Back) and Travis (Whistler). All are ex-pats from (or have spent time in) countries where parkrun is longer established. We’ve been drawn in to parkrun over time, and have witnessed first-hand the sheer buzz of parkrunday, and the positive effect that it has on the health and wellbeing in every community. We’ve already tried the sofa a few times, and decided we just HAVE to have it in our new homes!

 

It takes time, effort, commitment and tenacity to set up a parkrun. But one thing that really interests me is those Event Directors and dedicated volunteers who throw themselves into getting parkrun off the ground, having never seen or run one before! Let’s meet Annie and Tracy, two Canadians who have done exactly that!

 

Annie Bellemare | Event Director, parkrun St Paulin, QC

Annie & Nick with parkrun friends

Annie & Nick with parkrun friends

 

“One Saturday on vacation in London I went for a walk and saw a crowd waiting to start a run. Because I didn’t have confidence in my English to go over, I continued on my way. When I later found out what it was, I just thought that we have to have this in our village! I checked the website, and sadly parkrun wasn’t in Canada yet.

 

That didn’t stop me – I persuaded my non-running husband Nick to help with this project and we figured out a proposal for something similar to take to our local council. The night before our meeting, I checked online again, and suddenly – YES – parkrun Canada was a thing!

We started in January in Quebec. It was crazy cold, but it’s changed my life in so many ways. Firstly, seeing my husband awake at 7.30am on a Saturday morning! But seriously – I love to see people coming to parkrun motivated to get a new PB, happy to see each other, and I love managing a volunteer team. We are all about parkrun now!”

 

Tracy Laroque | Run Director, parkrun Frederic-Back, QC

Tracy in action as Run Director

Tracy in action as Run Director

“A group of Aussies invited me to participate in a ‘pop-up parkrun’ while I was at the Honolulu Marathon in 2015. At this point, there were no parkruns in Hawaii, so this was just a fun 5km. But after hearing about the concept, I promised the Aussies that I would try to help bring parkrun to my country! Once home, I contacted head office right away, but they said they weren’t yet ready to support Canada.

Fast forward to 2016 – I watched a few parkruns get going in the west of Canada, and in Fall I met with Euan (Canada Country Manager) and Valerie (another Montréalaise) about getting started in Montreal

 

Since being involved, I’ve made so many friends and learned how motivating parkruns are! When I’ve been Run Directing, I’ve been told by several different tourists that our event had been the friendliest event they had ever attended – and that’s a great compliment because all of them are very friendly! I LOVE that at the start of each run, we encourage participants to make a new friend by introducing themselves to the person next to them!”

 

Happy endings all round

 

As an interesting footnote, I did once actually buy a sofa without sitting on it. I was trying to pick one up cheaply on ebay, but foolishly left my competitive mother in charge of the final hour of bidding. She ended up spending significantly more than instructed, entirely ruining my cost-saving mission. BUT I couldn’t have been happier with the sofa, and it reliably serves to this very day.

 

So, aspiring Event Directors and volunteers – I’d urge you to think about all the happy endings in this blog, get off your sofa and get involved with parkrun! If you’d like to learn more about starting a parkrun in your community, take a look at http://www.parkrun.com/about/start-your-own-event/

 

Becky Maybury
Event Director, Richmond Olympic parkrun

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