Following up last weeks profile of new event Little Sugar Greenway parkrun, this week we have our sole location in Kansas – Exploration Place parkrun.
In its fifth month, the event has been hitting the ground hard with a strong turnout of attendances. Whether it be the accessibility, scenery, or the draw of fellow parkrunners, Wichita has been enjoying it’s new weekly run and walk.
Curtis Whittit, the Event Director, got involved because he believes that running and timed events should be more accessible and laid back. As he explains, “The finish line of any event is a sacred place and to be able to offer that for free every week is a gift.”
The course is a scenic out and back which lets you take in the history of the city as you make your way round. The route involves an iconic bridge in Wichita, the Keeper of the Plains bridge, and goes along the Arkansas River that had an important hand in the founding of the city. Also featured is the 44ft tall Keeper of the Plains statue perched on its 30ft platform that towers over the confluence of the Little and Big Arkansas rivers. What an adventure, and it continues right to the end of the finish line as you return to the modern Exploration Place Festival Plaza, home of the Exploration Place science museum.
Curtis points out that the event’s distinctiveness helps it stand out, “Our event is unique in the sense that you are in the middle of the downtown area. Our ‘park’ is only a river path along the banks of the river so we have an urban but still scenic feel.”
He goes on to explain that while Wichita is modest as a tourist destination, it’s still a fantastic place to visit, “When the event does get a tourist they get an especially warm welcome. Wichita is not without interesting and fun things to do so ask the locals questions and hunt down all the surprises Wichita offers while you’re here.”
When it comes to the post-event coffee, the parkrun has a facility to take advantage of right there inside Exploration Place, although sometimes they opt for a short jog to Leslie Coffee.
As with any parkrun the people make the event special, and each parkrun hosts so many stories that you can learn about, especially at the coffee spot. If you are lucky enough to visit Exploration Place parkrun you may bump into Adam, as Curtis explains, “Adam is originally from England and has seen first-hand the positive impact parkrun can have on a community. Nobody has been more supportive of the Exploration Place parkrun than Adam, but being the president and CEO of Exploration Place, he does not have the bandwidth to take on being an event director also. The funny thing is that he has been to more of our events than any other single person! To hear Adam tell it, he’s never been more productive on Saturdays than he is when he starts with parkrun. I love that, and I think that can be a message to a lot of people that don’t think they have time for parkrun each week.”
We’re really proud to have Exploration Place parkrun as part of the family. In its short existence it has already helped create friendships and meaningful connections, and we agree with Curtis who believes that, “The future is bright and especially this coming spring will be huge for Exploration Place parkrun.”
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