Spring is late in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. With snowfall on the morning of the last Bellevue parkrun of April, a group of hardy runners gathered to celebrate a couple of milestones: the first personal, and the second to welcome the opening of the third Bellevue parkrun season. Chris Bean tells us more!
We have had two full seasons with very few interruptions to the schedule. The harshness of the weather at the base of Lake Superior can dictate when we can hold an event, but more often than not, Bellevue parkrun proceeded undeterred. As we enter into the third full season, the time seems right to look back and reflect on the kilometres run, the friendships made and the milestones reached.
The Sault Ste. Marie run was established by Andy Bessell, a South African citizen with newly formed Canadian roots. Andy, a veteran of many international parkruns in both his home of Durban, RZA and London, England felt the Sault was a prime location for a Canadian parkrun, and took up the challenge to make it so.
With few contacts, Andy introduced parkrun to the local running community and immediately gained traction with runners of all levels and abilities and perhaps more importantly, families. Bellevue parkrun has seen days of 2 participants to days of 45 runners. But one constant remains, the growth and exposure of the Bellevue parkrun continues to climb. The word is out and the interest is a wonderful thing to witness.
Our event has graduated runners to 5 and 10km personal bests, led to first time half marathoners and inspired families to run together…including their dogs! Bellevue parkrun is seldom run without a four legged participant. We have been visited by other parkrunners from across Canada, the United States, Scotland, Germany and Australia. We have also experienced a couple of parkrun milestones, notably Mike Belair, who last summer completed 50 parkruns in a 52-week span to become the first Bellevue parkrunner to accomplish this. It took a while, but on the last weekend in April, with zero degree Celsius temperatures, I joined Mike and completed my own 50th parkrun!
I’ve had the pleasure during my pursuit of 50 to run against myself, be challenged by faster parkrunners, use the event as a ‘recovery’ run from the previous day’s long run, to what is definitely my most treasured parkrun experiences: coaching and motivating others to reach their goals. The growth I see from the people I work with, in fact, the eclipsing of any pace I can maintain from some, brings an element of pride and satisfaction to my soul. Running is good for the soul, but, seeing others experience pride in their run, is what will always bring me back the next Saturday morning. The cupcakes expressing thanks to the group for pushing and motivating also helps!
I took a bit of time for myself to celebrate my 50th parkrun. No coaching, no pacing, no expectations. I wanted to remember this moment in time, whether I associate it with the parkrun community or just a personal experience shared with a person I had yet to run with. I spoke of milestones earlier, and I managed to tie two milestones into one joyful experience. Andy and his wife added to the local running community a couple of years ago with the birth of their son. So on this Saturday morning, I chose to run with their boy. Just a moment of Zen for me and a chilly, bumpy ride for him! He didn’t mind, the bumps made him giggle and the joy I experienced will definitely be forever tied to Bellevue parkrun.
Thank you for the experience and I look forward to the third year of Bellevue parkrun!
By Chris Bean, Bellevue parkrun
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