Freedom runs for Freedom Day is always a fun and quirky event. It started 4 years ago as a challenge to run all the parkruns in Johannesburg. At the time there were 9. From there it has grown to include Pretoria and Cape Town. Our goal is to incorporate all the new events each year.
What I love about Freedom Day is running through all the different parks and spaces – it really does remind us how beautiful our country and our city is, and it is a reminder that at any time on any day one can go out and run in these spaces. Running 9 in one day you get to appreciate the differences of the runs and the uniqueness of each one. As it is a freedom run, no barcodes are scanned. Although no marshals and volunteers are needed, they are most appreciated. In true parkrun style the volunteers come out on their holiday and help make this happen. To them we say “Thank You!”
Boksburg was a big warm friendly welcome in the dark. As we arrived with a welcome of music and we saw all the headlamps, we had a sense this would be a bigger day than previous years. My excitement of what the day held was growing. Marshals greeted us on route in the dark, and they were much appreciated.
Next onto Rondebult and a warm welcome from Thami who even treated runners to some tea and biscuits! From there to Victoria Lake and another sea of friendly volunteers, welcoming us and sending us on our way. Bezuidenhout was next on the route. Running through the park one gets sighting of Ponte and a reminder that one is in the heart of the city, but with the expanse of the park it is easy to forget. Rob the Run Director had kindly run ahead and set out flags for the route.
On to Alberts Farm, Golden Harvest and Lanseria. Things were hotting up a bit (actually a lot). All in the middle of the day, and the tougher routes, it was hard. But again whether it was music, smiling volunteers or a cold drink, every volunteer offered their own uniqueness to each event.
Ernest Ullman was a faster route, along the shade of the river and relatively flat made for a welcome change. For those doing all 9 they had already run 35km, so for tired legs this was a great route. And then onto Atholl , the final run. With time pressure of finishing and rushing off to the next venue off, this one had a bit more of a chilled vibe. The park was being well used by soccer players and those enjoying the space on a public holiday. Being the last one, there were by now there were more walkers. After this it was dinner, a time to sit down and share our stories of the day.
Driving from place to place I knew a lot about how the people in my car were doing, but dinner was a time to catch up with the others. Our motto has always been : “Come run one, some or all”. We found out about Brad who had never run more than 7km, pushed himself to run all 9 freedom runs (45km). We had people come up from Kimberly and Durban for the event. We have those who are logging miles for 1000km challenge join us. Each person has their own reason or personal challenge and their individual victories and storeis makes the day special. In the end about 30 people completed all 9 freedom runs, and many more took part and reached their own goals.
Every year we support a charity – this year’s charity was Comrades to Comrades. With money raised we are able to assist two people with their travel expenses to the Comrades marathon.
The other thing we did this year, which had a great response was plogging- the idea being to pick up pieces of litter at each event. This got you an entry into a prize draw. It seems to have been well received and I am excited by the potential of this going forward.
We love the event and the people. Next year will be our fifth year- do come join us for something that is a little different, but a lot of fun!
Most parkrunners took the news about our problem with milestone shirts quite stoically and I would like to thank the many who offered advice and encouragement. There were however a handful who didn’t understand my message and for that I apologise. My message did not herald the end of the milestone T shirts. It merely…
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