Despite learning about parkrun in Michigan, it was in Italy that Joyce Wolford took part in her first parkrun which led her on a path to launching Creekside parkrun, Archdale, NC. The event launched in September, and we check in with the co-EDs to learn the full story, and how it’s been going so far.
Often people hear about parkrun through friends, or social media, or they stumble upon it through Google. It was the latter where Joyce first came across parkrun. It was on a visit to see her daughter who lived in Michigan, that she looked up running events in the area and found Lillie parkrun.
However Lillie wasn’t Joyce’s first parkrun. We have to go to Italy for that which is not quite what you may have been expecting. It was on a holiday that she took part in Milano Nord parkrun. Joyce was happy to be able walk because she was looking after an injury at the time. “It was really nice that I was able to walk, instead of run, and I thought there is something really good here!” Joyce explained. Something clearly clicked because she when she got home to the USA she took part in many of the events here including Durham NC parkrun, Roosevelt Island DC, Lillie and Fletcher’s Cove parkruns. “They were all so fun and very welcoming, and I thought our community needed a parkrun!”
Creekside parkrunner stoked to finish!
Durham NC parkrun was the closest to Joyce but it was over an hour away, so it was in early 2020 she got in touch with parkrun.
When we receive an enquiry from somebody who would like to start a new parkrun, we explain that we need three main things to start. These are a team, a course, and the permissions to do it. We bring everything else including training, equipment, insurance and the IT framework.
Joyce had a course in mind, so she reached out to the Archdale Parks & Recreation Department that oversees Creekside Park where parkrun is held. It is owned by the city of Archdale.
What was great was that the folks at APRD were really enthusiastic about the idea, and connected Joyce with Mary Joan Pugh. Randolph County, where Archdale is located, doesn’t have a county-wide parks department, but Mary Joan works with the county on projects involving trails.
Randolph County, where Archdale is located, doesn’t have a county-wide parks department, but as the County Trails Coordinator, Mary Joan works on projects involving trails. Mary Joan has a wealth of experience in managing outdoor activities having worked at the NC Zoo in Asheboro, been involved in local races and represented the County on trails and outdoor recreation. Her work is to get people outdoors on trails for health/wellness including Healthy Communities’ monthly Sunday hikes, Mayor’s Fitness Challenge’s Saturday Mayor’s Walks in the Fall and Uwharrie Trail Thru Hikes (40 miles in 4 days). When Mary Joan heard about the parkrun concept, she loved it despite doing more hiking than running at the moment.
Creekside parkrun is open to all!
The duo make a great team, with Joyce’s enthusiasm and Mary Joan’s experience of overseeing outdoor event projects. “Although I feel that Joyce does all the work!” exclaimed Mary Joan.
The core team was formed and parkrun was due to launch on April 11, 2020. When lockdown came it didn’t seem initially like such a big deal “We all thought the lockdown would just be for a few weeks” said Joyce.
When it became clear that the lockdown may last for much longer it became apparent that the delay to the start may be indefinite. “The equipment came on time but when it looked like the lockdown would last a while we just packed it away in the closet!” Joyce explained.
While the COVID pause provided challenges, there was one positive aspect. Joyce said, “It gave the city time to build new restroom facilities in the park very close to our start/finish lines!” Normally the location of facilities is factored in to the location of the start and finish of a parkrun event, and it’s unusual that the facilities come to parkrun!
The team at Creekside parkrun dealt with the lockdown well and waited patiently. parkrun events in the USA got going again in May 2022, and the right opportunity for Creekside allowed for the event to open in September.
The first day was a great success. “It was absolutely great that 27 people showed up!” Joyce explained that she was delighted to have a great crowd on day one. “Most people came locally, but it was really nice to see a group from Durham”. Joyce described how a group from nearby Durham NC parkrun were excited about the event and made the journey through to take part in the inaugural.
A group from Durham NC came to the first event
Durham NC parkrun Event Director, Julie Messina, was there on day one too. “It was great to have her there” the Creekside co-EDs mentioned, because in the lead up to the launch of the event, they had travelled to Durham to pickup some volunteer experience such as keeping the time, handing out the barcodes, and results processing.
It was clearly a useful exercise as the Creekside team felt much more confident leading into their first event. They were also really happy with the help “The team at Durham were so, so, welcoming” explained Mary Joan.
Other visitors included Catherine Weimer, the parkrun ambassador for the area who was there too to help out, and the City Manager!
With the first few events behind them, the co-EDs are really inspired and excited to see how the community develops over the Winter and into 2022.
Mary Joan delivering the pre-run briefing
The parkrun takes place in an area with so much going on, both locally in the park and wider afield. In Creekside park itself it’s buzzing with activity on Saturday morning. You can find motorcycle Classes, baseball games, dog walking, and now running and walking!
After parkrun, there is much to see and do. If you want to stay outside, you can visit the world’s largest habitat zoo, The North Carolina Zoo, with over 500 acres of exhibits with 5 miles of walking available. If you are looking for other types of adventure, nearby Kersey Valley Adventures offers axe throwing, ziplines, and more.
The High Point Market, which is the largest home furnishings market in the world, is held just up the road from Creekside Park. The team expect many international visitors will stop by at the parkrun during a visit. Also keeping with business there is a hub for hotels which many people stay at for business and conferences.
The nearby Town of Seagrove is the pottery capital of the United States. It’s well known for pottery boasting the largest concentration of working potters in the country. As discoverseagrove.com points out, you’ll find all kinds of pottery from “functional everyday use, contemporary, sculptural, folk art, to historical forms from the past.”
Joyce bringing back the flag after a successful event.
Racing fans can visit the Richard Petty Museum, and perhaps run into “The King” himself. The NASCAR hall of fame driver is from Randolph County, where Creekside parkrun is held, and raced from 1958 until 1992.
If you’re looking for somewhere peaceful and see as much of the great outdoors as possible, check out the Birkheard Wilderness area which, according to Wikipedia, are considered to have the oldest mountains on the North American continent.
We’re super excited to have Creekside parkrun part of the global family. Talking of families, Joyce’s daughter Brooke (whom she was visiting and inspired the initial parkrun research) now lives in Trondheim and participates in Festningen parkrun!
Welcome Creekside parkrun!
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