News - 12th June 2019

Thousands of parkrunners complete Comrades

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Over 20,000 brave souls tackled the 2019 up Comrades run last Sunday. Amongst them were several thousand parkrunners and I would like to congratulate them all for their tenacity and bravery. The day before nearly 39,000 runners and walkers ran and walked parkruns all over South Africa. For obvious reasons our KZN coastal parkruns had bumper fields and there was a record attendance at Amanzimtoti parkrun and a near record at Umhlanga (missed by 1!) North Beach attracted over 2,000 participants and would undoubtedly have had a record field if it’s two neighbouring parkuns, Durban Point and Blue lagoon hadn’t siphoned off some numbers.  It was interesting to see how many Comrades parkrunners jogged their parkruns very slowly or even walked. No-one wanted to overdo things the day before an 87 kilometre slog up some of the toughest hills found anywhere in marathon running.


There were so many prominent parkrunners participating that I am certain to leave out some but congratulations to our parkrun SA record holder, Jenna Challenor, on her 6th place on Sunday. Congratulations too to defending Comrades champion, Ann Ashworth on her gutsy 4th place. She and husband Dave were instrumental in starting Roodepoort and Bryanston parkruns and they continue to inspire everyone with their amazing marathon runs and with their contributions to society.


parkrun Global Head of Health and Wellbeing, and 4 time Hawaii Ironman champion, Chrissie Wellington, never stopped smiling throughout her Comrades day, and seems determined to return next year.



Tom & Brian Williams


Brian Williams first entered the Comrades when he was 24 years old, 50 years ago. Unfortunately he was injured and could not run. Then life got in the way. 50 years later he fulfilled his dream, running Comrades with his son Tom Williams COO parkrun global. They ran the whole way together and finished with 14 minutes to spare.


The day before they both participated in the North Beach parkrun. Tom said a few words before the start and emphasised how excited he was to run the world’s biggest parkrun. I walked while acting as a V.I. guide for our superstar blind parkrunner, for Chantal Ferreira. Thank you for your delightful company Chantal, and apologies for almost walking you into that pesky dustbin.


On the Monday after Comrades I host a “after-party “ which is always a lot of fun and attracts a crowd of about 60 happy but limping Comrades runners. These runners are International and local marathon runners and many are parkrunners. This year the amazing Cory Newman from Australia attended the party. She had just completed her 12th Comrades marathon, but the running statistic that really grabbed our attention was that Cory has run 280 parkruns and has been first finisher on 220 occasions.


Cory Newman

Cory Newman


In the last newsletter I mentioned the #parkruntocomrades runners who are an inspiring group who have challenged themselves to run the “ultimate Human Race” after initially starting as parkrunners.  My good friend Franklin Stern whose home run is Greenpoint parkrun, pointed out that there is an equally significant group called #Comradestoparkrun which has helped bring previously serious, but retired runners back to running. Please enjoy his piece in the newsletter.


400 completed parkruns is not an official parkrun milestone but it is an amazing total. Tracy Rankin and Dieter Meyer will reach that number in the next couple of weeks. Congratulations to both of you. The 500 parkruns milestone is just under two years away.


After the break for the Comrades marathon weekend, we will launch two new parkruns on Saturday; Lusitoland and Cradock will join the parkrun family. Lusitoland is a flattish two lapper on dirt paths which promises to be a fairly fast course.


Cradock parkrun will be run around a dam and then alongside the picturesque Fish River starting at the Voortrekker Hall near the Cradock Preparatory school.


8 years ago, when Gill and I were looking for a venue for our first parkrun we looked closely at Emmarentia Dam as a possible venue. Unfortunately for a number of reasons that idea did not work. I am therefore delighted to welcome Emmarentia parkrun to the parkrun family on the 22nd of this month. It has been a long wait but a worthwhile one.


Cheers for now,


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parkrun profile: Wits

Wits parkrun has taken place for the past year on the West Campus of Wits University. The core team of volunteers share more of its story:   How did Wits parkrun come about?  Wits parkrun had its first official event on 13 October 2018. It was a long time in the planning with several routes…