Many people who hear about parkrun wish there was one in their own backyard. Some people take the plunge and decide to start a parkrun in their community. People have different motivations for wanting to do this, and Pam Marcus has felt all of those motivations while developing Kensington parkrun, which launches late March in Kensington, Maryland. Kensington parkrun is the first in a series of new parkrun USA events launching in 2018 that were inspired by local parkrun experiences, rather than by experiences abroad.
“A year ago I barely had heard of parkrun; I certainly had never attended one. I knew one person in the parkrun USA leadership community, but didn’t know those who would ultimately become the Kensington parkrun planning group or our core team. How is it that someone goes from fully absent to fully engaged in less than a year?
I can’t pinpoint the moment when I realized that parkrun was the thing for me. I do know that I was overwhelmed at my first parkrun, so overwhelmed that I didn’t say a word to anyone. I also ran past the finish chute on purpose because my GPS watch wasn’t yet at 5K. One of the College Park event directors came running after me. Embarrassing, but I had to do what my watch said. Besides, I wasn’t going to come back again, so I wouldn’t see them again. Famous last words. I came back the next week and I introduced myself. And I came back the week after that. And then I volunteered. Soon I was a regular Run Director. And then I became immersed in the nuts and bolts of starting a parkrun.
Pam’s progression from shy first-timer, to volunteer, to core team member at College Park parkrun. She was run director on a chilly January day when a large crowd of new friends gathered to give the Kensington team a warm sendoff to launch their new parkrun.
At first, my reason for starting a parkrun was that I wanted one in my backyard so I didn’t have to drive to College Park every Saturday. Call me lazy, but I avoid the Washington DC Beltway whenever possible. And it seemed ridiculous to drive nearly 10 miles just to run. I could use the extra 15 minutes to sleep, right?
After a couple of months, my reason for starting a parkrun was that it was a challenge. The originally proposed location, a seven minute walk from my house, was quickly nixed due to road crossings. So the emerging Kensington parkrun planning team, which had grown to five, scoured southern Montgomery County in search of a suitable location. It was more difficult than expected. The need for ample parking, an appropriate gathering area, and a stretch of trail uninterrupted by road crossings almost did us in. We finally were able to meet all the requirements by choosing a double out-and-back course. And lucky for me, it was even less than a seven minute walk from my house.
And then, I realized that I had fallen in love with parkrun. That sealed the deal.
Kensington parkrun will be held every Saturday on the Rock Creek Trail, a popular trail that runs from downtown Washington DC out to the Maryland exurbs.
I love parkrun for so many reasons, as do the other four members of the Kensington parkrun core team. For me, it’s about being active in your community. You can interpret that phrase in two ways, and that’s on purpose. You can get your exercise close to home and you can contribute to something that leads to healthy and well-connected communities.
Kensington parkrun follows a 5k on a well shaded double out-and-back route that provides many opportunities for cheering fellow runners and walkers along the way.
parkrun offers something for everyone. Have little kids? Bring them out and teach them about the importance of exercising. Strollers are welcome! Have a dog? Guess what – you can bring Fido, as long as he’s kept on a short leash. Want to work on becoming more physically fit? Come every week and check your results afterwards. You will see tangible evidence of progress.
Strollers, dogs, walkers, speedsters – all are welcome.
If you’re an extrovert, run or walk the course and then go out for a coffee with the group. If you’re an introvert, quietly run or walk, and skip the coffee until you’re ready. Feeling lonely or down, perhaps because you are injured? I’ve been there, and I can assure you that being a part of parkrun helped me. And while we’re on the topic of being injured … the silver lining of being injured is that you can volunteer at parkrun while you are on the mend. Volunteer on 25 occasions and a wonderful purple t-shirt is yours. For free. Volunteering is rewarding in so many ways, even if you aren’t injured.
The post-parkrun coffee meetup at Java Nation is a weekly feature
The Kensington parkrun team has started meeting on Saturday mornings to put our course, our team, and our gear through their paces. We are making sure that all the pieces are in place so that when our launch date, March 24th, rolls around, we’ll be good to go. We are very grateful to Montgomery County Parks for allowing us to use the beautiful Rock Creek Trail and Puller Park. If you live in Montgomery County, Maryland or the greater Washington DC area, please join us for our launch or on a future Saturday. We can’t wait to meet you!
Kensington parkrun launches on Saturday March 24th at 9am at Puller Park, close to the 6.5 mile marker on the Rock Creek Trail, and it will take place every Saturday at the same time thereafter. Participation is entirely free. One-time registration at parkrun.us gets you a free personal barcode that is your ticket to Kensington parkrun and over 1000 other weekly parkrun events worldwide. Walkers, joggers, runners are all very welcome. The post-parkrun meetup for coffee is at Java Nation in Kensington. You can follow Kensington parkrun on Facebook, and full details can be found at the Kensington parkrun website: parkrun.us/kensington
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