In 2011 Linda and I moved to London, UK for a three-year period. While there we heard about a local running event that had started near us that fall called the Gunnersbury parkrun.
We tried it out and for the next 2 ½ years our Saturday routine, when in London, was parkrun followed by coffee and then home for a late breakfast. Both of us got our 50 shirts while our Brazilian exchange student, Lara, is likely the only young lady in Sao Paulo with a white 10 junior shirt. Not only that, her very first parkrun was a rare snowy one at Gunnersbury.
All good things must end, and we returned to Canada in 2014 leaving behind an extensive network of friends who we met through the parkrun and who we are still in close contact with. At the time Canada was unfortunately not approved for parkruns.
In 2016 we were happy to hear that parkrun was finally starting in Canada and decided to try and open one in the Ottawa region. In fact, our first route reconnaissance was conducted in winter 2017 with two of our UK parkrun friends, Teresa and Ged, on snowshoes.
September 2017 saw our event commence with a dedicated crew of volunteers. Included in those initial volunteers were Jen and Luis, who trained as run directors and have since moved to different Canadian parkruns. Two others, Sally & Keith, are set to return home to the UK this fall where they will, I am sure, fulfill that role.
We have also been reminded of the six degrees of parkrun separation. First was Angela a UK parkrun tourist to Kanata who we met two weeks later when all three of us were tourists back at Gunnersbury (out of about 400 runners that day).
The second was meeting Darren Wood (most parkruns ever) at the Endure 24 event in Reading, UK through the sister of one of our core Kanata parkrun team members, Shirley.
Third was Jessica, a young UK runner. When we entered her results, we noticed her previous run was Clermont Waterfront in Florida, the home parkrun of two of our own summer snowbird volunteers, Chris and Gary.
The last and most memorable encounter for Linda was going to Nose Hill parkrun only to run into her very dear friend Becky. Becky started parkrunning in Australia with her daughter and decided to drive from her home in Turner Valley to do her first Canadian parkrun the very same day Linda was doing some parkrun tourism of her own.
This sense of family is part of what keeps us interested, involved and eager for the day when we can once again welcome 1st timers, tourists and returning Kanata parkrunners to the Beaverpond.
By Keith Laughton
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