Sometimes landowners are surprised when prospective parkrun teams approach them, asking for permission to hold 52 events per year, for free. Increasingly, though, parks authorities are eager to work with us, because parkrun communities are such good stewards of the parks and trails that we use.
Here are just a few things that local parkrun communities have done to change the narrative. We’d love to hear more about what’s happening in your community!
Our aim at parkrun USA is to help create healthy communities. We believe that good stewardship of public land supports this aim.
It matters because we are in it for the long haul. All of our events aim to be free, every week, forever, as long as there is interest. So we depend on the long-term health of the parks and trails that we use.
It matters because our ability to offer free, weekly events depends on our partnerships with parks authorities and landowners.
And it matters because safe and well-maintained parks and trails are a valuable part of a healthy community.
At a minimum, it means that we share the trails with other users. We remind ourselves of that in every pre-parkrun briefing.
Also, we always aim to leave the park without a trace, so that there’s no evidence that we were there. You might think we’d need to pay attention to littering, but parkrunners are so responsible that it’s never an issue. Our efforts to reduce equipment and swag help with that.
But many parkrun communities go beyond this, and are actively involved in efforts to maintain and improve the parks and trails. Here are just a few recent examples
Roosevelt Island parkrun loops around a small island in the middle of the Potomac in central Washington DC. The island is an official presidential memorial, maintained by the National Park Service.
On April 13th the parkrun community teamed up with the National Park Service, The Potomac Conservancy, American Rivers, and the Friends of Theodore Roosevelt Island to host a combined run, nature walk, and clean-up on the island.
The parkrun saw its largest ever attendance, including many walkers. And the parkrunners and many other volunteers together collected countless bags of trash.
So many bags of trash collected at Roosevelt Island parkrun
Ranger Janet from the National Park Service oversees operations
Ok, so our barkrunner correspondent Foxy didn’t entirely get the idea
Pensacola’s parkrun takes place on the Barrs-Firestone Wilderness on the campus of the University of West Florida. The route follows trails through a beautiful forest.
As we described in our story Blazing a Trail, the RPN parkrun team worked with UWF staff to literally clear the trail through the forest. It is used every Saturday for the parkrun. But it is also a community resource that serves the university, local schools, and other community groups.
Trail maintenance and improvement is an ongoing project, and recently the parkrun crew was out in the forest, maintaining the trail and marking tree roots for safety.
Marking roots for safety at Pensacola’s Rec Plex North parkrun
This event in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC has developed a strong partnership with the county parks and recreation department. They have teamed up for twice-yearly tree plantings. In the Spring this is part of the University of Maryland’s annual Good Neighbor Day event.
On April 13th parkrunners teamed up with UMD students to plant 97 trees and clear trash and invasive species from the trail.
The College Park parkrun community has also ‘adopted’ the 1.5 mile stretch of trail that they use every Saturday, and they have organized cleanups at other times of the year.
Tree planting at College Park parkrun
Cleaning up the park at College Park parkrun
The snow has finally — maybe — receded at Thomas Lake Park, home of Eagan parkrun in Minnesota. Last week’s parkrun was greeted with the finest weather and the largest crowd that they have seen in many months. And this aligned perfectly with a post-parkrun cleanup project, clearing away trask that had accumulated during the winter months.
Picking up what the snow left behind at Eagan parkrun
Effective stewardship covers water as well as land. Renton parkrun follows a trail alongside the beautiful Cedar River, which is known for its salmon.
Last Fall, Renton parkrun teamed up with the Seattle Aquarium’s Cedar River Salmon Journey program for a special “salmon run” event that helped parkrunners learn about the impact of healthy watersheds on the salmon life cycle.
Learning about salmon at Renton parkrun
These are just a few of the things that parkrun teams around the country are doing to be effective stewards of the parks, trails, and rivers. We always love to hear more about things that are happening in your parkrun community.
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Bernie O’Connor and her family love parkrunning together at Armagh parkrun in Ireland. Bernie’s daughter Jodie has autism and needs one-on-one support. Like many other parents of special needs children, Bernie sees staying fit and healthy as a way to be able to support her daughter for as long as possible. Her local parkrun…