News - 6th March 2018

Growing a new parkrun community

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“As I boarded a plane last year to move to Boston, MA to begin post-graduate studies in the city, I was thinking about things I would miss – and it was not long before the parkrun community in my home town sprang to mind. Looking at the map on the parkrun.us website, I could see that parkrun was gaining traction across the United States – but there was nothing in New England and the nearest one to Boston was over 400 miles away in Washington D.C.  

 

And so it was, a few email exchanges later, that I found myself biking along Boston’s scenic Emerald Necklace one cold Saturday morning in November 2017 to meet Ann and Laura, two local Jamaica Plain residents who had attended parkrun events elsewhere and had a longstanding ambition to start an event in Boston. They talked me through the amazing hard work they had done already laying the foundations for a future event and we walked around the potential course, looking for hazards, discussing contingency plans when Boston’s predictably unpredictable weather struck and, importantly, options for the post-run coffee.

 

“So what else do we need to do to get things moving?”

 

We scratched our heads for a few moments. It was time to just start getting together for some Saturday morning runs!

 

Now, just a few months later, I have never felt more warmly welcome anywhere as I do every Saturday morning at Jamaica Pond.”

 

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We love our growing JP parkrun community

 

On Saturday 2nd December 2017, a crisp and clear winter morning, a group of 20 runners, walkers, volunteers and one dog assembled at the Boat House, Jamaica Pond to take part in a low-key run. How better to raise awareness of our hope to bring parkrun to Boston than to just start running? It was a great success. Everybody enjoyed the course and the group drew much interest from fellow walkers and runners at the Pond, who were happy to share the perimeter path with this new community.

 

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First meetup. The course underwent some changes as we explored different options

 

Following the run, we all decided to head to City Feed & Supply, a local coffee shop in Jamaica Plain to warm up, debrief and share stories. This has remained our post-run coffee spot ever since, and we are grateful to City Feed & Supply for continuing to welcome us. The post-run coffee has been a wonderful way to get to know all of our participants better and for each to share their experiences and reasons for running.

 

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Nothing like a coffee and a chat at City Feed & Supply after a run around Jamaica Pond

 

Since that day in December, a growing group has been meeting every Saturday morning at Jamaica Pond for informal runs, putting the potential course through its paces, making some changes and ensuring everything is ready to go for the official launch on March 31st. The events have attracted participants from Jamaica Plain, neighboring areas in Boston and further afield in Massachusetts. We have already met so many new people. We now have a two-loop course with a turnaround point, offering plenty of opportunities for spectators and fellow runners to support each other along the way (and to see the Pond from two different angles!).

 

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Every week we have seen newcomers at the weekly runs, including dogs, strollers and most recently a barefoot runner. We now have a growing and dynamic team of volunteers. We are thrilled to see regulars who come week after week, and we are so grateful that more and more people are stepping forward to support in whatever way they can. That is not to say that there haven’t been bumps along the way. In January, just a few weeks after starting our weekly meetups, Boston was hit by one its infamous Nor’easter storms, followed by an “Arctic freeze”, with record-breaking low temperatures for over a week. This forced us to cancel a couple of runs for safety. But we also learned that the course is impressively resilient in the face of snow and ice, and that gives us confidence for future winters.

 

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Boston’s weather is predictably unpredictable. But as long as it’s safe to go ahead, we’ll be there every Saturday, year round.

 

For our weekly meetup to become an official parkrun we needed a big team effort behind the scenes: raising funds and making connections, working with the City of Boston, completing paperwork, and fine-tuning the course. But this was made so much easier by the knowledge that we already had our Saturday morning community that was motivated to see this happen.

 

parkrun is something truly unique and special. It is not just a 5km run for an individual time. It is about people, families and community. It is about fitness and making exercise fun. It is free and accessible for all ages, fitness levels and experience. It is a chance to meet new neighbors who you otherwise would not have known, to enjoy the beautiful parks that the city offers, and to set new personal goals, be that getting outdoors early on a weekend morning or a new 5k best time.

 

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Well, of course you can bring the stroller

 

JP parkrun will be happening on the weekends either side of the Boston marathon in April. So if you are running in the marathon or coming to support, we would love to see you for your pre- or post-run shakeout and introduce you to our beautiful course and community. And for anyone trying to collect the whole “parkrun alphabet” – there is now a new “J” to add to your list!

 

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And no, you don’t have to wear shoes

 

We are so excited to see the first parkrun in Boston, Massachusetts and indeed New England starting at Jamaica Pond on March 31st and we are grateful to our dedicated team, volunteers, runners and parkrun US ambassadors for making this a reality. Thank you to the City of Boston for allowing us to use this wonderful setting every week and to all of the local individuals, organizations and businesses who have offered their support. We meet at Pinebank Promontory, Jamaica Pond, Boston 02130 every Saturday morning to start the run at 9am. We head to City Feed & Supply in Jamaica Plain afterwards. One-time registration at parkrun.us gets you a free personal barcode. That is your ticket to Jamaica Pond parkrun and to over 1000 other weekly parkrun events worldwide. Whether this is your 1st or 100th time running 5k, please come and join our growing community. Walkers, joggers, runners, volunteers, strollers, dogs all welcome!

 

You can follow Jamaica Pond parkrun at:

parkrun.us/jamaicapond

Facebook: facebook.com/jamaicapondparkrun

Twitter: @JPparkrun

Instagram: @jpparkrun

 

Rose Penfold and Laura Cornelissen, Co-Event Directors

On behalf of the Jamaica Pond parkrun team

 

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