New Orebro parkrun Event director Matt Ford (pictured above, with parkrun UK staff Helen Hood and Jo Sinton-Hewitt) tells us about the journey to the first Orebro parkrun on April 8th!
“I used to run at my local parkrun in South Manchester and always thought what an amazingly simple and brilliant concept it was. Free, timed, 5km runs with a bunch of people from all backgrounds, young and old alike, simply wanting to be active. Running is great like that, it breaks down boundaries and brings people together; even more so with parkrun than perhaps running clubs as perceived ability is no restriction.
parkrun is massive in the UK with nearly 450 locations holding a run every week of the year. That’s so many people who are either running or volunteering and contributing to something incredibly positive. It’s wonderfully infectious, being part of something so powerful in transforming people’s lives. With the success it was inevitable that parkrun should spread its wings overseas and now operates in 14 countries such as Australia, Russia, Denmark and also my country of residence Sweden!
Ever since I moved back to Örebro in 2011 I’ve dreamt about hosting a parkrun here and have let my mind wander many a time on my various longer runs around the amazing landscape we are fortunate to have. Then one day I suddenly saw a parkrun Sweden page on Facebook! I immediately made contact with Deri Thomas who was in the process of establishing the event over here and setting up Sweden’s very first parkrun in Hagaparken, Stockholm. We discussed the process of setting up a parkrun in Örebro and soon we were searching for a suitable venue to hold the event.
I spent all summer running and scouting possible routes; I wanted something that would tick all the boxes and would allow Örebro parkrun to grow and become a success story in years, indeed decades to come. Eventually it came down to one choice – Rynningeviken. It meets all the criteria for a perfect parkrun. A flat 5km loop, beautiful scenery which changes with the seasons, easy to reach by foot, bike, car or public transport and access to a great cafe. A huge factor with parkrun is creating a community spirit, the event becomes driven by its own base of participants for each other. So being able to “fika” after each event and share experiences is great, which meant that having Naturens Hus almost within reach of the start/finish line was perfect. Thomas, who runs the cafe, bought into our concept and agreed to open earlier which means everyone can go back there afterwards for a coffee, cake and/or lunch whilst we download all the stats from each event (times, positions and age group rankings) which is automatically emailed to everyone afterwards.
During this time I was also aware of the importance of building a good “core team” of volunteers who would drive parkrun forward with enthusiasm and fun. parkrun is all about having fun, with the importance on taking part and not winning, hence the name parkrun and not parkrace! I feel we have a great team of people who are volunteering their time and efforts, with a mix of Swedes, a Kiwi, and me the solo Brit (right now). parkrun, being a free-to-participate event, is all about volunteers. People who enjoy running, understand the benefits and want to encourage others to experience the same. Give and take. Run some weeks, volunteer others – that’s the parkrun ethos.
I won’t say it’s been an easy ride setting up the event in Örebro, it’s sometimes been frustrating with the time taken to get everything finalised, but like they say “all good things are worth waiting for”! An ambition is to grow Örebro parkrun to be a huge success and motivate thousands into a more active lifestyle; also a junior parkrun over a 2km course where kids aged 4-14 can run independent of an adult.
We are very close now, with the inaugural event to take place on Saturday 8th April and like all parkruns in Sweden, starting at 09.30. It’s been an adventure getting to this stage, now let the games begin!”
Örebro parkrun Event Director
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