parkrun Canada is 3 years old! It all started back on August 20 2016, in Kelowna, B.C.. 3 years on, Event Director Bill Justus reflects on their journey.
Wow! What a journey it’s been! We, parkrun Canada, is 3 years old! I have had the pleasure to see it from the very beginning, working alongside some amazing people both in the UK (parkrun’s birthplace) and here in Canada.
- I have seen our little family go from just our event to now 37 runs across this great and amazing country of ours.
- I have seen one of our own go from immigrant to Canadian citizen.
- I have watched as the Okanagan volunteer team has grown to over thirty people!
- I have witnessed established members of the local community become part of parkrun, even though there was some uncertainty in the beginning.
- I have gone from working hard to get a permit to access city trails, to permanent hand made markers and city signs, to a proclamation by the Mayor commemorating the first annual ‘parkrun Day’ here in the Okanagan!
- I have seen many young people become core volunteers and become part of the parkrun family.
parkrun does so much, without much fanfare. It slowly becomes part of your life, gently covering you like a warm blanket on a cool winter morning. parkrun tells you you’ll be ok, today you’re safe here, today you have lots of family members all willing to cheer you on, help you through and make your day better.
Some of my top milestones
- Tom Williams, Global parkrun COO arriving from the UK to launch parkrun Canada in Kelowna
- parkrun Canada Country Manager Euan and I sitting with MP’s and MLA’s looking for help to get it up and running
- First meetings with the mayor to get use of parks
- Making our first birthday cake
- Our first Christmas run
- Our first New Years Day run
- Watching the kids go from strollers to having “we have to parkrun mommy” whilst still a year away from their own barcode
- Smiles, laughter, traveling to open new events, new flags, new websites and so much more!
parkrun Canada has grown a lot in three years and like any toddler we are starting to run, as the expansion has accelerated significantly in 2019. No doubt there will be some scrapes and bumps along the way, however I believe that in 10, 15 or 20 yrs from today, parkrun will be an amazing way for both young and old to be active and away from the phone (or whatever tech we have at that point!). It will be a prescription for our 70 plus crowd (I will be in that group by then!) to be connected to the community and healthier away from the hospitals and doctor offices.
I can’t wait to see where this journey takes us all, maybe we will one day establish a parkrun on the moon!
By then, parkrun will be safe in the hands of our youth volunteers – some have already volunteered 25-30 times or more and are not yet over the age of 18! So, hats off to our young volunteers such as A. Peacock and E. Butterfield. With your help and others, I know the future of this little growing family is in safe hands.
HAPPY 3RD BIRTHDAY PARKRUN CANADA AND OKANAGAN PARKRUN.
You are one of the joys of my life!
Bill Justus, Event Director
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