A tranquil woodland with majestic ancient oak trees, hawthorn hedges, an abundance of bluebells and wonderful views has been growing on a hillside on the edge of Glasgow for hundreds of years.
Since the summer of 2016 these beautiful woods have also played host to Drumchapel parkrun, which averages just 35 runners and walkers each week and around 15 volunteers, giving rise to its nickname amongst local parkrunners: “Boutique”.
Run Director Laura Gray tells us more about one of Glasgow’s – and parkrun’s – hidden secrets.
When the planning for Drumchapel parkrun began, I had been a parkrunner for a couple of years and well and truly had the bug! I was initially intrigued by how a new parkrun is set up, but little did I know as I attended those early meetings that I would put myself forward to be on the core team.
Drumchapel is part of Glasgow and is known to locals and residents as ‘The Drum’. The site that was chosen for our parkrun was Garscadden Woods East, which is owned by Glasgow City Council and managed by the Forestry Commission Scotland. It is a stunning location with dramatic views over the city.
Those views do need to be earned however, and when people ask (as they often do!) who designed our course, I am forced to confess in a sheepish voice that it was me and another couple of sadists. It’s a tough three lap route on gravel and tarmac in the lovely woodland setting with a few undulations to keep you interested. The most famous feature is definitely “that hill” – the long gradual incline that seems to go on forever!
The hill is worth every step though – we’ve had many sightings of deer – and who doesn’t love to challenge themselves anyway? That’s one of the reasons I love parkrun – no pressure against anyone else, it’s all about taking part for whatever reason who want to. And if you want to beat your time from last week and don’t? Try again next week!
One of the lasting legacies of Drumchapel parkrun is the way it has encouraged locals to visit the woods more. We pick up the litter on our set up and it has been noticed that the area is being looked after.
After parkrun we go to a local church café called The Orchard Café. It is run by volunteers and is well supported by our parkrun. We all gather round one big table and enjoy hot rolls with coffee while we chat.
We rarely reach 40 finishers each week, but we have such a strong family feel that our core team isn’t just about the Event and Run Directors. It’s so much more than that. We have volunteers who don’t run, but who support our event week in week out. They are incredible and have become an integral part of our parkrun crew. The parkrunners who mostly or only run at Drumchapel are a great bunch too and we have got to know them and their life stories. These people are what makes our parkrun special – the core team just organise it and we watch it all happen around us. Take Lavina for example:
“Saturday mornings generally consisted of a leisurely coffee whilst watching Saturday Kitchen and then something different and unexpected came along… parkrun! My daughter was part of the original ‘set up’ for our wonderful Drumchapel parkrun and being a supportive mother I attended some of those meetings and found myself agreeing to volunteer for a few weeks to help out. Some 51 volunteering sessions later I’m still involved and can’t imagine Saturday mornings without my regular fix of parkrun! Over a cup of coffee in our local church hall, and as I tune into various conversations, I realise that we truly are a parkrun ‘family’ – full of support and interest in one another. So if you haven’t volunteered as a marshall give it a go …. Saturday Kitchen’s loss will be parkrun’s gain!”
Sometimes I take a few weeks away – to try other parkruns and just have a wee break, but I miss it so much. It’s so lovely to go back and see all the awesome people I’ve met and now consider my friends. For me, that’s what parkrun is all about.
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