What a delightful surprise Malmesbury parkrun is. For those of us who have not been to the Swartland, this lovely run through the forests and fynbos and over gorgeous mountains close to the town was very special. Last Saturday, Malmesbury became the 108th parkrun in the parkrun Southern Africa family and our first launch for the second half of 2017. Japie Du Bruyn and his team have created an exciting parkrun which takes in all of the best features of the countryside around Malmesbury. It had rained the day before, but it was dry on the morning as close to 400 eager visitors and locals dodged a few puddles and celebrated by running this special parkrun.
At the end of the week Malmesbury parkrun was the parkrun world leader for registrations and I am sure it will continue to be a very popular parkrun. My abiding memory of Malmesbury parkrun will be of a large group of local children excitedly warming up before the parkrun start as the dawn broke.
On Saturday parkrun travels from the fynbos of the Cape Swartland to the sugarcane of the KZN North Coast when Tinley Manor will host its inaugural parkrun. Tinley Manor will be the 109th South African parkrun. I have been told that Kim Blevin and her team have laid out a challenging but fun route through the sugarcane and bush, through a tunnel under the N2 and down a famous avenue of palm trees. These trees were planted by Penny Rey Coelen and her family many years ago. Penny was crowned Miss World in 1958 and I am hoping she and her family will attend the inaugural run on Saturday.
As our parkrun family continues to grow, and we pass the winter solstice it is fascinating to see how parkrun itself is growing. We now have just under 640,000 registered parkrunners and last Saturday over 30,000 of those ran at 104 venues (there were a couple of cancellations). Most interestingly there have been 854,651 individual performances at parkruns around South Africa so far this year. This compares with the 782,009 attendance figures for the whole of 2015 and with nearly 1.3 million for the whole of 2016. It is obvious that in 2017 we will easily outperform last year’s final attendance figures with a couple of months to spare. (Thanks to Jaco Van der Walt for the statistics)
Many parkrunners will have heard of the group called the parkrun tourists and some will not have failed to notice the distinct bright orange caps the tourists wear. parkrun tourists are parkrunners who travel to different parkruns “ticking off” as many as they can and exploring South Africa at the same time. Those who have run 20 or more different parkruns can join the official parkrun tourists group and buy the orange cap or buff to support the funding of 50, 100 and 250 milestone flags which are presented to each new event.
The tourists have a lot of fun travelling to, and running the different parkruns. For many a “missing” parkrun is like having a missing stamp in a valuable collection. They will not rest until they have added the missing parkrun to their “album”. The parkrun tourist habit can be expensive and time consuming when one considers that our parkruns are spread from Swakopmund to Pongola and from Mogol to Fish Hoek but the tourists seem to really enjoy their hobby. They also serve a valuable role as the eyes and ears of parkrun on the ground. It is a great asset to parkrun to have this group of experienced parkrunners spread around the country each Saturday morning.
Cheers for now,
Despite the cold winter weather we are amazed to see our parkrun numbers still averaging over 30,000 participants each Saturday. To remind readers this is bigger than any road race in South Africa and unlike these other events we attract these numbers and more 52 times a year. Of course this would not be possible…
Name: Rex Gazzard Age: 66 Occupation: Retired Home parkrun: Golden Harvest Running club: Formerly RAC Trail or Road Running? Road Number of parkruns completed: None – unable Favourite volunteer role: Timekeeper Number of volunteering occasions: 78 officially and at least another 10 unofficially (I wasn’t registered yet) Why should others volunteer at parkrun? Every person…