Andy Bessell, a South African expat, with parkrun experience in Durbin, SA and London, England, choose to settle with his Canadian wife, Kaitlin in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. Andy a running enthusiast and veteran marathoner, new to the community and without a network of contacts established Bellevue parkrun, using the City’s primary recreational park as a home base.
Bellevue Park had the setting and available pathways he thought would be perfect for establishing a weekly 5km run that would be open, inviting and accessible to all levels and abilities. With the help of the Municipality and his relentless efforts to establish the parkrun in the Sault, Andy gave purpose to those looking for an opportunity to meet likeminded people willing to encourage and support each other through their own journey, whether it was a desire to follow a couch to 5k, maintain fitness, challenge themselves to a PR or run as a family.
The successful first summer of the Bellevue parkrun was easily measured in participation rates, successful PR’s and growth of many runners from week over week. As a participant of the Bellevue parkrun, watching those around me embrace the benefits of running through Andy efforts has been amazing.
The summer 2018, Bellevue parkrun season was a tremendous success. The weather cooperated, the park was lush, participation remained steady and the experience was fantastic.
Then came winter…
Winter in Sault Ste. Marie is best left to the hardy. Those looking for bitter cold, endless snow accumulation and biting wind chills would love the Sault. The rest of us, retreat to our couches and coffee, anxiously awaiting the first signs of spring. Not Andy, he was determined to make the Bellevue parkrun a 52 week event. The snow changed the course, the shoes changed to the trail variety and the temperatures would often reduce the participation, but the Bellevue parkrun is truly a 52 week event. The hardy continue to pursue their personal objectives and talk of registering for half and full marathons is common chatter.
Sometimes it takes an outsider to truly make the complacent amongst us realize what a beautiful experience running can be. Fitness, personal goals and friendship have been achieved thanks to the efforts of Andy, Kaitlin and the Bellevue parkrun.
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