It seems the drought that has had South Africa in its grip has finally been broken and in many parts of the country gardeners and farmers are celebrating. This was certainly the case in Winterton in KZN where the farmers were very happy and 160 eager parkrunners launched the Winterton parkrun.
“Damp” was the theme of the morning as we set off on the lovely rural route that Esmarie Neethling and the team have designed. The recent heavy rain meant that some duckboards and cardboard had to be laid down over the soggier patches on the route. Happily the rain held off for the launch and we ran in cool, overcast conditions.
There was plenty of mud and many puddles to negotiate on the route but even the most mud splattered participants said that they had had great fun running past farm buildings and round two large dams teeming with water fowl. Some runners spotted a pair of majestic Crowned Cranes.
Many of the parkrun tourists and other well-known parkrunners attended the Winterton parkrun and it was also a wonderful surprise to welcome legendary rugby Springbok Henry Honiball and his family to the parkrun. His wife Marisca was a volunteer timekeeper at the finish.
Some of you may be sad to learn that the parkrun points system is coming to an end. As parkrun has evolved over the years the points system has become less and less important. So many parkrunners have become tourists and there are many more who do not even understand the points table. Even more are unaware it exists.
Tom Williams from parkrun Global has summed up the changes far better than I can:
“Over the last 12 years parkrun has grown from a small time-trial in Bushy Park, with just 13 participants, to the world’s largest running movement, spanning 1,000+ events across 14 countries. Next month we will register our three-millionth unique parkrunner.
Ever since the beginning we’ve prided ourselves in breaking down barriers to participation and welcoming people no matter what their background or ability. Once we opened our second event location, in early 2007, we became an organisation that embraced change and much of our success has been thanks to making the right decisions around what to keep the same, what to change, and what to remove.
Over the last couple of years we’ve increasingly felt that our website, despite being loved by those who love it, has become a barrier to people who are perhaps less confident and more in need of getting involved.
So, I’m pleased to let you know that behind the scenes we’ve been developing, from scratch, an entirely new website that we feel will more appropriately support participants all the way from pre-registration right through to joining one, many, or all of our milestone clubs. At this stage we aren’t committing to a date for that to go live, but we expect it to be in the first half of 2017.
Perhaps the biggest change we’ve been through over the years has been from being a running event focused on finish times, to a community-led social event that uses running as a hook to bring people together and positively impact their lives. It’s been an unexpected and humbling journey, and one that hasn’t seen the parkrun ethos change, rather we’ve come to understand what it really is.
And as part of that process we’ve been looking at every aspect of our current website and making decisions around what to keep, what to change, and what to remove.
I’d like to take this opportunity, therefore, to let you know that the points league will be coming to an end, across the world, on the final weekend of February 2017. Although I realise this will be disappointing to some of you, it has remained as the one big thing that compromises our participation-focused ethos and rewards a type of engagement that is no longer what we are primarily about.
Ultimately it recognises a very small percentage of people, at the faster end of the field. We have looked at a number of options for re-configuring the points league to make it more accessible, engaging, and in-line with our ethos. But every option simply increased complexity and moved us further away from one of our key operating principles; keep it simple.
We recently launched parkrun Canada and parkrun Sweden without the points league, which has gone well, Australia have already announced they will be stopping theirs, and recently Bushy parkrun, the home of parkrun and with 1,000+ weekly participants, stopped using their points league for the same reasons we present above. None of those changes have resulted in any significant level of negative feedback.
For all events that wish to continue using the points league until February, the final scoring Saturday will be the 25th of February 2017 and the leagues will be available to view until Friday the 3rd of March 2017. After that they will be removed from the current website and not replaced on the new website later in the year.”
Cheers for now,
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