parkrun profile - 24th October 2019

parkrun profile: Ernest Ullmann

Ernest Ullmann

Ernest Ullmann parkrun in Northern Johannesburg has recently passed the 100 parkrun milestone. Event Director Alexandra Barbosa tells us more…


When was Ernest Ullmann parkrun set up?  Our first event was on 19 August 2017. Friends of Sandspruit (an NPC solely dependent on donations) who care for & maintain the park and along the river asked parkrun to see if the venue would be suitable for a parkrun to encourage feet in the park – we now have a regular contingent of around 300 parkrunners per week (some with their dogs)– what a success!


What have been the highlights of your event so far? We have a regular parkrunner lady who has had a long battle with cancer, she is an absolute inspiration and in recent months celebrated her 100th event. We also have a more mature lady of 80+ who comes every week and I am sure she is heading to her 100th event very soon too.  One of our very little ones (about 5 yrs old) has recently completed his 50th and is following in dad’s footsteps who completed Comrades this year.


Who helps to make Ernest Ullmann parkrun a success?  All our volunteers are extremely special.  We have 2 that have been with us at almost every parkrun since the inaugural event. Our amazing Funnel Manager – Lee Harding – is an absolute constant and our rock (when Lee is not there we feel a little lost). On top of being the most efficient Funnel Manager Lee is also instrumental in ensuring the setup & take down is 100%.  Our second volunteer who is on duty week in & week out is Gus Barbosa – he is the “marshal in the outback” standing alone at the far turning point of the event making sure no-one gets lost or goes too far. For most of our parkrunners it’s a relief to see him as it means they are half way through their laps. Gus loves all the greetings on a Saturday morning – seeing the regulars come by and greeting new faces.


What makes Ernest Ullmann parkrun unique? Ernest Ullmann park is a hidden gem in the Morningside / Wendywood area. Running or walking along the river lets you feel like it’s a day out in the countryside away from the city giving you a feeling of tranquility with a breath of fresh air. The original farmhouse used by Ernest Ullmann is still on premises with one or 2 of his sculptures in the park area. The river is mostly clean where ducks and other river birds can be spotted and if you listen closely the Woodlands Kingfisher is generally around serenading all the participants too.


What is the course like? We have some parts sandy, some parts grass, some parts veld along the route, its not particularly fast or strenuous but is very popular and we frequently receive compliments on what a lovely parkrun it is and how friendly all our amazing volunteers are.


Have you had any notable visitors? We have a group of tourists who keep us on their regular visiting route – the Evergreens.  We love seeing this particular group and look forward to the next time they visit us – what an inspiration they all are keeping young with this wonderful activity.




What success stories have you heard from your parkrunners?  One of our amazing volunteers – John Rollason and his wife Fiona – John, who has completed Comrades 6 times, has a mission to run a marathon on every continent – they have recently ticked off Brazil, South America.  One of the other marathons he has ticked off his list was on a continent which probably doesn’t feature on everyone’s list is Antarctica which John can tell us few “chilly” tales about too.


What are the facilities like? There is limited parking in the area, the start is approx. 500m from the parking and is in the main grounds of the park beyond the buildings. There are toilets in the main building area, however these are not maintained on the weekend and we are required to supply toilet paper to help facilitate our parkrunners comfort so we do appreciate all the donations of loo rolls – please keep them coming.


What is the one thing a first timer to Ernest Ullmann should know? This is a 2 lap course with some narrow pathways so please keep left and be aware and considerate of the other participants around you.  Remember to look around you and enjoy the view.


You can find out more about Ernest Ullmann parkrun on their website or facebook page.

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