On September 28 there will be a new western point on the parkrun compass! Event Director Mark Swannell tells us why he’s bringing Shawnigan Hills parkrun to Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
To me, parkrun symbolizes two things: inclusivity and community. Without these, parkrun would not be the global phenomenon it is now. I hail from Manchester England. Having over 600 parkrun events to choose from in the UK, I could take part regularly whether at home or away.
Being a club runner I would incorporate parkrun into my training schedule: firstly, I could run a timed 5km; secondly (and most importantly), I enjoyed the atmosphere in this environment, especially as 90% of my training is done alone. parkrun is the only event I know where runners, joggers, walkers, dogs and strollers can all take part at the same time and the same place.
So when I moved over to Vancouver Island in July 2018, I made it a mission of mine to set up a local parkrun in Shawnigan Lake, in the heart of the Cowichan Valley. As a teacher and running coach at the school, I am going to be assisted by colleagues and students for the first few months whilst we get the event established in the community. We also have our friends down at Clover Point parkrun, Victoria who came up to Shawnigan in June to take part in our trial event.
Hills, you say?
You may ask why it is now called Shawnigan Hills parkrun? Well, the clue is in the name: this is a hilly course! However, without putting anyone off, the scenery will make up for the lack of personal records being broken! The Shawnigan Hills parkrun starts and finishes on the local running track and weaves its way through the beautiful campus of Shawnigan Lake School.
Shawnigan Lake is a small community of 8000, but is central to many local communities. As words gets round via word of mouth and social media, we hope to see parkrunners from locally and beyond, not only at our inaugural event on Saturday September 28 but every subsequent Saturday thereafter at 9 am. Post-run refreshments will be at Shawnigan House Coffee in the village.
If you want to say you’ve run the most westerly parkrun in the world, Shawnigan Hills is a must!
Mark Swannell, Event Director
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