By Bill Post
Run Director at Clermont Waterfront parkrun
This week Clermont Waterfront parkrun celebrated its 200th event with 100 runners and walkers enjoying the alternate Lake Hiawatha ‘woodland’ course.
It was back in April of 2013 that the first parkrun was completed along the beautiful shores of Lake Minneola, following months of planning and meetings led by Karen and Tim Bowler, who brought the parkrun concept to Clermont from the UK. 38 runners and 10 volunteers who participated in our first event. Thanks to a dedicated core team, over 200 different volunteers, the City of Clermont, and of course our runners and walkers from around the world, Clermont Waterfront parkrun has been going strong ever since.
Karen Bowler gives the pre-run briefing at the inaugural Clermont Waterfront parkrun in April 2013
We have made some adjustments over the 4 years, including a recent move to a new start/finish area at Hiawatha Preserve that allows us to run every week, even with the many other sporting events that take place in Clermont. We had one recent cancellation when Hurricane Irma visited Florida, but we were back to normal the following week.
With our great location in Central Florida, along with our warm weather and fast, flat course, we continue to draw a large number of locals, including competitite athletes who come to Clermont to train, and we have warmly welcomed thousands of international visitors from around the world who make our parkrun part of their must-do holiday plans.
Currently Clermont Waterfront parkrun is the largest US parkrun by most measures. 5,291 people have taken part, completing 14,861 parkruns. That’s almost a third of all US parkruns completed to date. Clermont also holds the US record for participants at 214, on August 5th, 2017. But with the rapid growth of new parkrun events across the US, we know that other parkruns are looking to break our records, and we are looking forward to that!
A nice benefit of the growth of parkrun USA is that our parkrun tourists now regularly include visitors from other US parkruns. For our 200th event we welcomed to Clermont much of the core team of Eagan parkrun in Minnesota. It was great to see Nate and Melissa Damro and Michelle and Scott Horn. It was especially good as my wife Frances and I recently visited Eagan parkrun when we were were out of Florida during Hurricane Irma.
Sometimes our parkrun tourists become regulars. This week Londoners Joy and Donald Bell made their 20th visit to Clermont parkrun. Joy and Donald now run in the 75-79 age category, and they have done almost 400 parkruns between them, mostly at Bushy parkrun in London.
One of the highlights of Clermont Waterfront parkrun for locals and tourists alike is our famous post-run meetup at Cheeser’s Palace Cafe. For international visitors who are unused to our summer heat and humidity, and our 7:30am start time, the American breakfast experience at Cheeser’s is a welcome reward. For our 200th event, Amanda Walsh, manager of Cheeser’s, surprised us with two beautiful cakes to go with our coffee.
Our 200 parkruns are unusually well documented, thanks to the photography of Hector Clemente and others. Through Hector’s efforts we have an archive of over 30,000 photos, capturing many special holiday memories, and so many reminders of our beautiful lakeside setting.
All around the world, we’ve seen over 28,000 unique volunteers in the parkwalker role and they’ve parkwalked over 52,000 times! We speak to one of the parkwalkers, Cathy Hannon, about why she chooses to volunteer in her favourite role every Saturday morning. Cathy’s chronic condition means that parkwalking is the best option for her, she relishes the…
All of the talk around the barbecue during Memorial Day weekend had to do with our huge record breaking weekend at parkrun USA. We welcomed 3,204 runners and walkers to 61 different events from Biddeford to Bainbridge Island. Whether it was your 1st or 101st parkrun, we hope to see you back throughout the summer….