To all parkrun teams, volunteers, and ambassadors, this is just a short message to thank you for your amazing contribution to parkrun this last year. Words cannot sufficiently illustrate how overwhelmed I am about the magic that has happened in parkrun SA this year.
The bare facts are that our total registrations have grown by 225,000 new parkrunners, we have added 32 new parkruns to the parkrun family and there have been over 1.75 million individual runs. Never could we have dreamt what would soon happen when parkrun SA registrations numbered 26 and those 26 ran at our only parkrun in November 2011. parkrun is not a sport it is a movement of nearly three quarters of a million people across Southern Africa.
But as exciting as these figures are, these are they are just facts.
Thanks to you, “parkrun” has entered the Southern African lexicon; biltong, braaivleis , robots (traffic lights) vasbyt and parkrun. Most Southern Africans understand that parkrun means “free, timed 5k walk, jog or run on a Saturday morning, don’t forget your barcode!”
parkrun is about human beings, it is about community, and the 5km run or walk is almost the excuse for people to gather, to greet each other warmly to laugh and chat excitedly, to “kuier” with each other. But parkrun is also about giving and helping. When parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt first approached me to start parkrun in Southern Africa I told him it would probably not work because we would never find enough volunteers.
“South Africans don’t volunteer Paul” I argued “ They will want to be paid to rise early on a bitterly cold Saturday morning and hand out tokens or stand in the pouring rain with a marshal’s flag.
You wonderful people have proved me horribly wrong. I could praise you all for pages but Ita Van Rensburg’s ( Hartenbos parkrun) magnificent piece on volunteering ( published all over the parkrun world) says everything I would want to, and far more eloquently. You can read Ita’s letter here.
If I can be allowed to steal directly from Kennedy’s 1963 speech to the German people in Berlin “Today in the World of parkrun the proudest boast is Ich bin ein volunteer” and thanks to you the proudest shirt and colour in parkrun is the purple 25 volunteer shirt. And by the way, isn’t it appropriate that this month parkrun Germany joined the parkrun family. Of course we can also boast here in southern Africa that our German speaking volunteers in Namibia got there first!
Suffice it to say that in these sometimes bleak, depressing and horrendous times we live in, where every day in our country the news is full of the evil side of humanity, your selfless contributions to the happiness of your fellow Southern Africans stands as a bright candle in the dark. Thanks to you Southern Africans are becoming healthier and happier one community at a time.
Thank you once again for everything you have done and let’s make parkrun 2018 even more memorable.
See you at a parkrun soon. Enjoy the holidays.
CEO, parkrun South Africa
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