You may have seen them at your favourite parkrun: the peculiar breed of the parkrun Tourist. Usually topped with an orange hat and/or an orange buff, they have all visited more than 20 parkrun venues without forgetting their barcode.
Some of them take the Sho’t Left campaign to see more of our country very seriously. A few weeks ago, Joburger Chris Reeler decided it was high time to give the KwaMashu parkrun in Durban an extra boost in attendance. As a parkrun stats geek it annoyed him that their inaugural attendance has not yet been topped. Safair’s special was all it took for Chris and I to organise the outing with the generous help of the renowned volunteering teams of North Beach and KwaMashu.
On 3 February, twenty passionate parkrunners caught the 6am flight from Joburg to Durban and were swiftly transported to the Princess Magogo Stadium by the local volunteers. Several other Tourists travelled from other parts of KZN – and even Gauteng – to join the fun.
Cheered on by enthusiastic volunteers, the “Dash” part of the day saw our Tourists run and walk the undulating KwaMashu course, followed by impromptu singing and dancing in true South African style. Then it was off to a breakfast for some 40 people, where they met the Umhlanga team. After that it was time for the “Splash”: walking on the beach or swimming in the sea.
A tired, but happy group tumbled onto the 6pm flight back to Joburg having made some special parkrun memories with new friends. This was the first of several Dash and Splash trips that are planned for the KZN coastal parkruns, so look out for future activities and join in if you can.
And for anyone who wants a different adventure, there is an attempt to break the Stutterheim parkrun inaugural record on 14 April. If you are looking for ideas of which event to attend on that day, think about Stutterheim.
Roodepoort parkrun (the second oldest parkrun in SA) has a number of Visually Impaired parkrunners that have started to partake every Saturday morning. Jessica and Johannes Grib were inspired and encouraged by a parkrunner to come down to the Len Rutter Park and try out parkrun as a form of exercise. Jessica and Johannes arrived with their guide dogs Lucia and Lennox and partook in three events before leaving the two mutts at home.
Johannes mentioned that Lucia and Lennox are terribly rude canines and they prefer to hang around the dog pub (at the start of the event) or lie on their backs and get tummy tickles from the fellow parkrunners. On Jessica and Johannes’s third parkrun, Lucia and Lennox took them on a third lap around the park and that was it; no more guide dogs! Here come the volunteers: parkrunners were a little apprehensive at first to volunteer as guides, not really knowing what to expect. The regular volunteers now know the times that Jess and Johannes are capable of and each Saturday there is a queue of volunteers wanting to assist. Thanks to Jessica and Johannes, Roodepoort parkrun has on average five Visually Impaired parkrunners every Saturday morning.
Reg Smal and Andre Manders have joined and partake. These wonderful parkrunners are assisted by their guides, Stephanie Greenwood, Ernest Watkins and Desi Rockas. Jessica and Johannes are well on their way to their 50 milestone t-shirts; this goal should be done and dusted by March. Their other goals of course are to better their PB’s. Both Jessica and Johannes recently completed the New Year’s double at the Roodepoort and Delta parkrun events. Jessica has volunteered once (assisted run) as a Tail Walker. Johannes has a wicked sense of humour and mentioned although the Roodepoort course is challenging, he loves the route and is so used to it now he can do it blindfolded! Jessica says that she hopes their group of Visually Impaired parkrunners promotes an awareness that parkrun is for all to participate, she also hopes that it will bring confidence and comfort to sighted people who are a little apprehensive to partake, to get out and enjoy parkrun.
Thank you to Bruce and Gill for the opportunities and dreams that you have created for so many of us through the parkrun concept. I was basically a non-runner with no aspirations to compete in anything other than a 5km run when Ilana (Botanical Garden parkrun founder) convinced me to join parkrun in Jan 2015. Today I have quite a number of 10 and 21 kms behind me as well as 4 marathons. And hopefully my first ultra at Two Oceans in March of this year. The beauty of the parkrun concept is that ordinary people start to believe in their ability to accomplish so much more than what they originally thought they would be able to.
One day in early November 2019 we received an e-mail from a parkrun tourist from Gauteng by the name of Doris Dondur who indicated her plan to attend Outeniquasbosch parkrun (Mossel Bay in the Garden Route) and asked whether she could volunteer if we need an extra pair of hands – which we, of course,…
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