Madison, Wisconsin and two of its suburbs are three of the fastest growing cities in Wisconsin. This growth means that Madison is brimming with newcomers, and that is before even considering the University of Wisconsin, Madison and its annual influx of students, staff, faculty, and visitors. How can these newcomers find kindred spirits among a community of people known for their active and healthy lifestyles?
Enter the Howard Temin Lakeshore Path (HTLP) parkrun in Madison, WI. The HTLP event directors, Dave and Shelby, recently found themselves in a similarly new environment after moving to Melbourne, Australia with their 10-year old son Eli. There, they discovered the Parkville parkrun, a free, weekly, timed 5k. They were told that all they had to do was register online and show up at the park on Saturday morning to run or walk the course. The first few weeks they arrived, participated, and went home. Then eventually they started going to the coffee shop where participants gathered after the event. Soon they had made new friends in a new city who taught them about Australian customs, sports, and brekkie (breakfast) treats!
Badgers down under! Dave and Shelby at Parkville parkrun in Melbourne, Australia
How could this great way to meet people be free? They volunteered, helping with roles like timekeeping, scanning the barcodes that are used to record results, directing participants on the course, and, perhaps most importantly, tailwalking — making sure that a volunteer, and not a participant, is the last person to finish every week, no matter how quickly or slowly they finish. Some people finished quickly, one in less than 15 minutes. Others would take an hour or more. Participants ranged from children under the age of 10 running alongside their parents to senior citizens. Some participated while injured or recovering from injury, while one blind runner participated with the help of a guide. All are welcome. No one is excluded. And everyone is unified by the common sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing.
The whole family learned that volunteering at parkrun is as much fun as running or walking the course
Thanks to generous support from Promega Corporation and Thermo Fisher Scientific, and tremendous help from the “big sister” Parkville parkrun and from the all-volunteer parkrun USA team, the HTLP parkrun will have its inaugural event at 9am on August 24, 2019, with the start and finish on the Lakeshore Path, just east of the UW-Madison Memorial Union. The course winds out-and-back along the forest canopy on the shores of Lake Mendota.
HTLP will continue every Saturday, year round, through summer heat, fall colors, and winter snow. The event will cancel only if conditions are dangerous, such as an icy trail, or if the trail is unavailable due to other events. By continuing year round participants get to sustain regular habits and enjoy all that the Wisonsin seasons have to offer. The Eagan parkrun in the Twin Cities has continued through two winters already. And in Ann Arbor, MI Lillie parkrun started in late 2018 and has already built a thriving year-round community.
Lillie parkrun, in Ann Arbor, MI. Fun in all weathers!
Dave and Shelby are excited to be starting a parkrun event in one of the most scenic and iconic locations in Madison just before the start of the new academic year. It is their hope that HTLP parkrun will motivate people to remain or become active as part of a supportive community that is especially welcoming to newcomers, whether they are newcomers to Madison, newcomers to organized fitness activities, or experienced athletes who are newcomers to parkrun.
PHOTO CREDIT: UW MADISON
Although the word ‘run’ is in ‘parkrun’, walkers are just as welcome as runners. Children aged 4 and up can register. (Under 11s must stay with a parent or guardian.) Kids in strollers are welcomed. And dogs (on a short leash) are a part of the parkrun family, too. There are no prizes for being fast. The only awards are for consistency: parkrunners who complete 50 parkruns (10 for kids) receive a coveted, and free, parkrun milestone shirt.
To volunteer or participate, simply register at https://www.parkrun.us/register/ for a free personal barcode. Then print out the barcode and just show up before 9am any Saturday morning.
Note that the same barcode can be used at any of the more than 1,500 weekly parkrun events worldwide. HTLP parkrun is the 36th parkrun event in the US. and the first in Wisconsin. But with participation in parkrun roughly doubling each year in the US, it is only a matter of time before other Wisconsin communities choose to start a parkrun event of their own.
After the event, participants and volunteers are encouraged to gather at Peet’s Coffee & Tea in the Memorial Union to get to know other parkrunners. All parkrun events are just as much about community and human connections as they are about physical fitness.
For more information:
Facebook: Howard Temin Lakeshore Path parkrun
So, what’s with the long name, and who is Howard Temin? Well, Howard Temin was a UW Madison geneticist and virologist who won the Nobel Prize in 1975. We recommend to check out his Wikipedia page. In light of his contributions to science, health, and social justice, he seems like a pretty good person to have a parkrun event named after him.
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