The birthday celebrations at Pollok parkrun in Glasgow this Saturday will also mark 10 years of parkrun in Scotland.
From a single event in 2008, a further 43 parkruns and 14 junior parkruns have sprung up north of the border, from Crichton to Camperdown and Troon to Thurso, with 143,000 different people completing 1.3 million parkruns and 17,000 pulling on the high-vis.
To commemorate this milestone, this week’s edition of the parkrun Tourism Series takes a wee look at 11 events in Scotland that have all launched in a different year between 2008 and 2018.
2008 – Pollok
Pollok parkrun (known as Glasgow parkrun when it started) was the 11th event in the world and the first event in Scotland. On 6 December 2008 44 people finished thanks to the contribution of seven volunteers, and almost 20,000 different people have walked, run and volunteered since.
The event was the brainchild of Richard Leyton who had been inspired to run after watching a local race, and then when visiting friends in London he discovered Bushy parkrun and wanted to bring the concept to Scotland. The idea of there being six parkruns in Glasgow, as there is now, was beyond anybody’s wildest imaginings.
Pollok parkrun is run in the beautiful surroundings of what was the former country estate of Sir John Stirling Maxwell and comes complete with Highland cows, several of which did try to gatecrash a parkrun one memorable day.
2009 – Edinburgh
Edinburgh parkrun was the next addition to the Scotland parkrun family in October 2009.
This beautiful waterfront course is one lap of the Cramond / Silverknowes Promenade. The route is flat on generally wide footpaths, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s always as fast as it looks – as it borders the Firth of Forth you can be exposed to the elements!
Look out for landmarks such as Birnie Rocks and Ronald Rae’s eight tonne Fish Sculpture, which can be seen standing proud on the beach, and the section shortly after the 2k marker as “The Fiona Crawford Loop” in memory of a parkrunner. As you approach the finish, the tips of the Forth Road and Rail Bridges are visible, as is the tall white ship’s mast at Cramond Village and the Queensferry Crossing.
2010 – Strathclyde
Strathclyde Country Park was the setting for the third parkrun to get up and running in Scotland. The 400 hectare park is a popular family attraction and has a range of activities such as watersports, playgrounds and bike hire, as well as playing host to world class international regattas, triathlons and music events, some of which attract up to 100,000 visitors!
Despite the beautiful surroundings, Strathclyde parkrun averages a far more modest 300 walkers, runners and volunteers on its flat out and back course along the shores of the loch.
2011 – Falkirk
2011 was the first year that multiple parkruns launched in Scotland, so we’ve plucked Falkirk out of the bonnet to represent parkrun’s fourth year north of the border.
Falkirk parkrun takes place in the picturesque Callendar Park, which covers 170 acres and is home to the magnificent Callendar House. The park has a long history dating all the way back to the construction of the Antonine Wall in 142AD. The estate has been gradually developed since the 12th century, coming into public ownership in the mid-1960s.
The course starts on gravel at Callendar House, then moves to trail paths through woods, then on to tarmac through a golf course, finally coming back onto trail paths, up a wee hill and through the woods back to the gravel and the start.
2012 – Camperdown
Camperdown Country Park, on Scotland’s east coast, is the grounds of a 19th century mansion and is Dundee’s largest park. Since 2012 more than 6,000 people have completed this picturesque course that combines sections of open parkland and wooded areas.
This classic single-lapper, which is mostly on trails, begins with a short descent before running along to a wildlife centre. The path descends further to the southernmost part of the park before climbing steadily through the woods, past a duck pond and golf course and passing Camperdown House before a sting in the tail as you climb back up the first hill to the finish line.
2013 – Perth
Nope, we’re not off to Western Australia – it’s the original Perth that represents Scottish parkruns in 2013!
The course, ominously described as a pan and handle course with four “very small” hills (hmmmm), is in North Inch and Riverside parks and starts on a broad tarmac path. It joins the the riverside path at 1.5k, with a 2k ‘circuit’ of the pan before heading back along the handle to the cheers of the volunteers at the finish funnel. Then it’s off to the Bell’s Centre Café for a well-earned hot drink!
2014 – Hazlehead
Hazlehead Park covers 180 hectares on the outskirts of Aberdeen. It is heavily wooded and is popular with naturalists, picnickers, walkers, sports enthusiasts and… parkrunners!
It’s a picturesque park with rose gardens, azalea and rhododendron borders and heather beds, with a children’s playground and a maze for all ages.
The course is an out and back loop that starts from the path beside the old caravan park and runs up the back of Hazlehead Park, entirely on loose gravel and mixed terrain paths. After 2.5k a marshal at the top of the golf course will turn you around and send you back down the path to finish in the old caravan park.
2015 – Dunfermline
Dunfermline, in Fife, lies on high ground 5k from the northern shore of the Firth of Forth. The event is held in Pittencrieff Park, which was donated to the people of Dunfermline in 1903.
The undulating course starts in the north-west corner and starts with a slight incline before taking in three anticlockwise loops. The route is scenic with views of Dunfermline Abbey and bridges of the River Forth in the distance. It is run fully on tarmac paths and takes in a number of Pittencrieff Park’s many attractions, including Pittencrieff House, woodland areas and the Glen Pavilion. The finish line is on the straight section close to the start.
2016 – Elgin
Next up is a big hop north to Elgin, beyond the Cairngorms National Park, to Cooper Park in Elgin. Established in 1903, this scenic landscaped green space has tennis courts, a cricket club, a pond and, of course, a parkrun!
The course is two clockwise laps in a ‘pan handle’ shape. Starting to the north of the pavilion/pond area, both laps feature a large loop within the main area of the park then an out and back on the new path that runs west on a flood protection embankment. Runners complete one lap when they pass through the start area and then commence lap two.
2017 – Troon
Our next destination is the west coast town of Troon in South Ayrshire, perhaps most famous for being one of the hosts of the Open Golf Championships.
Not to be outdone, the latest addition to the town is Troon parkrun, which celebrates its birthday on the same day as parkrun in Scotland. In just its first year, 1,600 people have completed this out and back route along the seaside.
The flat course starts at the Sunken Garden, heads north along the South Beach Esplanade with a small loop before heading back to the start. Then it’s off for coffee at Blueberry/Betsy’s 3 South Beach.
2018 – Crichton
The final stop on our parkrun Scotland time travel adventure is the country’s most southerly event, Crichton parkrun in Dumfries, which comes with its own church and swimming pool!
The course is set through the Crichton Estate, a beautiful 85-acre parkland in a stunning location. Starting and finishing at the Crichton Memorial Church, the course takes you around the estate on traffic free surfaced roads and paths. The course is generally flat, with some moderate inclines.
After you’ve had your token scanned or folded your high-vis, you can head to Neuro’s Bar and Restaurant for a hot drink or visit the Spa for the heated pool, sauna and steam room.
As the growth of parkrun continues apace (even during a worldwide pandemic) understanding the views and attitudes of 7 million registered parkrunners is not only critical to the organisation’s decision making, but also incredibly challenging. The evolution of parkrun, from a single event and a handful of participants, to thousands of locations across five continents…
Over the past week we’ve continued to make positive progress and are excited to share a significant step forward today. We have now completed our operating framework describing how parkrun events around the world will operate in countries where there remains an underlying level of COVID-19. This has been achieved through closely working together…