If ever proof were needed that parkrun really can make a difference in a community the launch of Mountain Drive parkrun in Graaff Reinet last Saturday provided it. With close to 300 registrations the enthusiasm for parkrun was obvious on the Saturday morning when dozens of excited first timers and volunteers arrived to run the beautiful but testing course in the Camdeboo Park.
Our thanks are due to the South African National Parks for permission to run in the Park and for their invaluable assistance. However, the real beauty of this parkrun lay in the cross section of society that participated. In particular the 180 children from the local school who lined up ready to run and walk. It was amazing to see every single one of them waving brand new laminated parkrun barcodes. Apparently our thanks, and theirs must go to their teacher Mr. Ian Kristein who took over 5 hours registering every pupil and laminating their barcodes.
Mr. Kristein promised that all the children had committed to participating at least once a month but that many intended coming even more regularly.
As I mentioned in our last newsletter we are now going full steam ahead with launching new parkruns and this Saturday will see us start parkruns in Louis Trichardt in the Limpopo Province and another in the South of Johannesburg at Meyer’s Farm.
Louis Trichardt parkrun has been on the cards for a long time now and we are delighted that at last that community will join the parkrun family.
For a long time now Rietvlei parkrun in Johannesburg south has almost had to stand alone in hosting hundreds of parkrunners from the South. At times it has seemed Rietvlei might be bursting at the seams. But Shawn Mackrell and the team from Rietvlei have created a beautiful parkrun close by to take some of the load off Rietvlei.
The really exciting news this week is that parkrun South Africa welcomed its 1 millionth registered member. This seems incredible when we consider that just over 7 years ago we numbered just 26.
7 years ago none of us could have imagined the future would be this spectacular. In those 7 years a staggering 6.8 million runs and walks have taken place.
At its capacity the famous Ellis Park rugby stadium hosts about 60,000 fans for a major game. The Comrades marathon has a field of about 25,000. On a good Saturday morning parkrun Southern Africa boasts close to 60,000 participants, and this happens 52 times a year.
We are able to deliver these amazing numbers thanks to our growing number of volunteers and ambassadors, a weekly team of over 2,000 do all this without any reward except for the gratitude of the runners.
The first 7 years of parkrun Southern Africa have exceeded our wildest dreams. The next 7 promise to be just as exciting.
Cheers for now,
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