News - 29th August 2023

I can’t imagine my life without it!


Hello everyone! My name is Ryan and from the minute I joined my local parkrun I was hooked.


In the fall of 2019, I was trying to become a better version of myself – both mentally and physically.  I took care of myself in the brain department by keeping up my daily involvement with an online trivia league and I was encouraged by my friend Jesse to take up running.  When I started, I was struggling to get through one kilometre – but I wanted to work on building up my endurance.


My friend from the UK, Kay, had told me about this “parkrun” organization and I thought it sounded doable.  I hopped in the car on the last Saturday morning of December, drove to Downsview parkrun in the north end of Toronto and lined up ready to run with three goals in mind (and not necessarily in this order):


-        Finish

-        Get one lap done without stopping

-        To avoid… um… “tossing my cookies”


I’m happy to report that everything went okay and after showing up a few days later for a New Year’s Day run I had the idea that I would stay for a while.  And I have!




Why am I a part of parkrun?  Yes, I mentioned that I love the exercise, but even more than that it’s the people.  Not only is there a super positive atmosphere every Saturday morning, but members of the core team have become great friends and it is fun getting to know them outside of parkrun as well – for example, trips with other parkrunners have included both scuba diving in a local lake and cheering in the audience of Family Feud Canada!


One of my favourite things as well to do is be a parkrun tourist.  This started in North Bay when I was visiting my family in early 2020 and has blossomed into runs from coast to coast in Canada as well as one in the USA (to run with my friend Kay who I mentioned before) and two runs in the UK – in both Halifax (England) and Barry Island (Wales).   Shoutout to the runner from Central Burnaby who recognized me from a run there four months before they attended one at Downsview! I am especially excited to one day attend the new run in Newfoundland and Labrador and there will certainly be more occurrences of “Yes, we know, you’ll be late for the event because you’re parkrunning” over my travels!




I have as well been able to volunteer in so many different positions as well.  I remember my first time as Run Director as I was quite scared that something would go wrong (and it didn’t).  I was also encouraged to sing part of my event briefing (which is available on request but not on demand)!  Volunteering is one of the most awesome things you can do at parkrun – I always love that you can choose your position and even when I am playing parkrun tourist I email ahead and ask to do the run report which then spreads the word to others so as to encourage them to become part of the parkrun family.




From all of the times I’ve been at parkrun, two specific Saturdays stand out for me.  The first was my 25th run where I smashed by PB and accomplished a goal of going sub-25 minutes which I’m proud to say I achieved!  This then led into the first of two triathlons completed – this from a person who had difficulties running one kilometre three years previously!  The second was earlier this year as I was able to complete my 45th parkrun on my 45th birthday (I’m a numbers guy, you can ask anyone who knows me).  But more than that on that day was that my great friend and road tripper Dave completed his first parkrun.  He was excited to find out that parkrun was open to both runners and walkers and I was thrilled that he joined up.  Dave is now a regular participant at Downsview and it is tons of fun to chat with him before, during and after every event about everything and anything parkrun.  He was encouraged to start walking through the parkwalker initiative that was created in late 2022.


Like many things that have happened in the last five years for me, parkrun is something that I didn’t know about – but now that I do, I can’t imagine my life without it!


Ryan Vickers



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