Some of the pioneers of parkrun Canada met for the first time this weekend. Attendee Suzanne Brooks, Alberta Ambassador, shares her highlights from a busy weekend spent in beautiful Victoria, B.C.
Organized by Canada Country Manager, Euan Bowman, with special guest James Kemp (Global Operations Manager) we started off with an informal evening of introductions over dinner.
We certainly could have carried on until the early hours chatting about our favourite subject, but the hotel social spaces were closed for renovation - so sensibly we got to bed just before midnight as we had a very early start in the morning to attend Clover Point parkrun.
Of course – no parkrun weekend would be complete without a parkrun! The dawn was still dawning when we arrived; most parkruns around the world start at 9am, but this one kicks off at 8am. We were welcomed by Run Director and Ambassador Mike Angrove and everything ran like clockwork (most of the Ambassadors remembered their barcodes/bands – or if not, were able to print off a hasty replacement!)
The light drizzle cooled us down during the run and the fabulous route along the coastal path gifted us some beautiful views of the rugged shoreline.
The weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the exuberant runners of course and plenty of fabulous pictures can be seen on the Clover Point Facebook page.
We were reminded about the simplicity of these events with a few cones marking the route and a handful of wonderful volunteers. It’s a speedy, relatively flat sea level course. Kudos to Euan for achieving his 150th parkrun here!
A parkrun is always completed by a social get together in a cafe afterwards, and the Moka House did not disappoint! The wonderful choice of brews and tasty treats were wolfed down and the happy positive atmosphere of post run endorphins was infectious.
We dashed back to the hotel for a quick shower and change before our meetings and presentations began in earnest at 11am. My roommate, “Flying Ambassador” and Helen Mirren lookalike, Denise Thompson and I, had a quick change of rooms too, when water started pouring out of our bathroom ceiling light fitting. The hotel were unable to open the room above to check out the source of the flooding so that remains a mystery. Denise came out with the quote of this West Coast weekend…“it always rains here, even in our rooms!”
As we learnt later on Saturday evening during our “ghost walk”, our hotel may be haunted, so some strange goings on are to be expected. Two other Ambassadors Becky Maybury and Jenna Bradley also came back to their room to find the toilet in constant flush mode, so the hotel is either haunted or the plumbing needs a serious service!
The “business” part of the day was held in a room on the 6th floor with great views of the harbour and its seaplanes. Euan informed us about the humble beginnings of his parkrun experience and we watched a great video showing how parkrun is making the world a healthier happier place. The “Why do you parkrun?” video is not to be missed!
He informed us about how happy he was to have people “just like us” to help bring parkrun to Canada! James Kemp, Global Operations Manager, then gave us an update on the exciting new developments and growth predictions in future years and answered many questions from his captivated audience.
After lunch we were entertained and informed by presentations from each other, about our different parkrun experience and challenges, before James and Euan finished off with some more future developments.
It was all over too quickly and after we had posed for a group photo, we had just enough time to get ready for the evening’s chilling (in more ways than one) “ghost walk” around town, followed by a lovely meal together.
Time to say goodbye
It was sad to say goodbye so quickly but we have been able to network with our peers and chat to the people we have only linked up with on Facebook or email before. We made some new friends this weekend, and it will be so much easier to approach each other in the future for help and advice and dip into this collective pool of knowledge.
We all share the same passionate view of parkrun and that’s why we put so many hours in to combine the hobby of running with volunteering, in order to ensure parkrun stays free forever for everyone!
I am grateful and proud to be associated with parkrun Canada and of course to Euan and James and everyone else who helped make this weekend a success.
parkrun Ambassador, Alberta
Postscript: On my way back to Calgary, a picture at Victoria Airport was at the bottom of the rack but somehow it caught my attention. It is called “community strength” by Canadian artist Simone McLeod.
When I read the information on the back of it I had to buy it. It says so much about the journey we all go on and about this weekend, especially the last sentence. When asked about her painting process, Simone said, “Painting was something that I often thought of when I was a small child, but I felt that it was not the right time. I believed that I had to wait until I could find something that had a lot of meaning to me. Each painting contains a piece of my soul. I have a strong faith in humankind and my paintings are silent prayers of hope for the future”.
Your parkrun Canada team, from left to right back row:
Tristan MacLean (East Ontario & SW Quebec Ambassador), Denise Thompson (‘Flying’ Ambassador), Lawrence Bromley (Social Media Ambassador), James Kemp (Global Operations Manager), Karen Lawson (Saskatchewan & Manitoba Ambassador), Aneez Kanji (East Ontario Ambassador), Euan Bowman (Canada Country Manager), Annie Bellemare (Quebec Ambassador), Nic Lalonde (Quebec Ambassador), Becky Maybury (Communications Ambassador).
From left to right front row:
Bill Justus (Interior BC Ambassador), Jenna Bradley (Finances Ambassador), Craig Herrington (Saskatchewan & Manitoba Ambassador), Cullen Price (City of Toronto Ambassador), Suzanne Brooks (Alberta Ambassador).
How did you first hear about parkrun? James and Jodi from Taber, Alberta, share their story about the influential role James’ Dad played in the founding of Trout Pond parkrun. This time last year we would’ve just held our 2nd parkrun, still trying to get used to juggling the scanning, timekeeping, token hand…
Comment avez-vous entendu parler de parkrun? James et Jodi, de Taber, en Alberta, racontent leur histoire au sujet du rôle influent joué par le père de James dans la création du parkrun de Trout Pond. L’année dernière, à ce moment-là, nous aurions organisé notre deuxième parkrun, essayant toujours de nous habituer à jongler avec…