Voortrekker monument parkrun became the first parkrun in Pretoria when it launched on 28 September 2013. Since then it has been run over 200 times, with the finish line being crossed a huge 98,769 times! The core team tell us more:
How did Voortrekker Monument parkrun start? Who was responsible for getting it off the ground? This depends which start you are looking at. Originally, Rhoda du Plessis started the parkrun, then handed over to Simon Yates who was also closely involved in the restart. We first launched in 2013 with a 3 volunteer crew welcoming everyone to Pretoria’s first parkrun – Julian Du Plessis, Rhoda Du Plessis and Mona Lombard.
Unfortunately, there was a short hiatus when the parkrun closed briefly on 28 January 2017 with a record crowd of 2,092. However, to everyone’s absolute delight, thanks to the efforts of Peter Wilgenbus and the Voortrekker Monument Running club, the parkrun reopened on 21 July 2018 and has been going strong ever since.
The restart was spearheaded by Peter Wilgenbus, who together with Simon and a host of other Event Directors from Pretoria, worked really hard to restart the parkrun and paved the way for what it is today.
What have been the highlights of your event so far? The Core volunteer team at Voortrekker Monument parkrun are very creative and there is never a dull moment. Most memorable events are those with special themes and where we can raise awareness and gather donations for the less fortunate in the Centurion and Pretoria community.
We have had pajama runs, funky dress events and a very special visit from Cupid in February. With every event (themed or just a normal Saturday parkrun) – we grow in numbers and cheer every parkrunner on during their run.
Who helps to make Voortrekker Monument parkrun a success? We have a great team of volunteers, from young to old. Our Event Directors, Lusinda Landman and Farron Yssel are supported by a great team of core volunteers. The volunteers are always willing to take on different roles on a Saturday and show such enthusiasm that more people join in on volunteering on a weekly basis.
Our awesome core team is:
Thea Van den Heever – beside volunteering as pacer and Run director on a regular basis – she is responsible for some of the original and awesome posts on social media!
Hugo van den Heever – Volunteers as pacer, run director and just wherever we need volunteers
Marlene Killoch is a regular tailwalker and cheerleader for those who need a little extra cheer on the route. She is often seen with a sign for parkrunners to read to encourage them on their way to the finish.
Carel Van Aardt is shy but can always be found always helping out – he will pace you to a great time sub 30 on a weekly basis
Ronel Du Plessis is our all-rounder and regular Run Director
These are just a few of the great volunteers – but we also welcome come volunteers who rotate between the different Pretoria parkruns.
What makes Voortrekker Monument parkrun unique? Combining history with nature – the route has a great flat uphill section that people seem to be quite “fond” of. When we remind the parkrunners of the flat and fast route with that flat uphill during the announcements, most of the regular parkrunners just start laughing.
The course is entirely done on a permanent path, so rain or sunshine – it’s a great atmosphere and route!
What is the course like? The Voortrekker Monument parkrun course is mainly downhill except where it is not…
Starting close to the stairs leading up to the monument, you run a big loop. We then run past the Amphitheatre which leads to a gradual incline all the way to the 3km mark where we keep right and take on the paved hill. Generally, the smiles disappear at this point and we have heard a fair share of NSFW language being used (when there are no kids around). But after the last 234m on Happiness Hoogte to the very top of the hill at Fort Schanskop, all you hear is cheers and yells of accomplishment for the 1.8km downhill stretch. We rarely see a parkrunner NOT smiling when they finish!
What are the typical parkrunners like? We have welcomed all type of parkrunners – young and old, families and friends. We welcome everyone with a HUGE “good morning parkrunners!” at the start and the return parkrunners becomes friends of the volunteers and later become volunteers themselves!
Have you had any notable visitors? Olympians, Comrades winners, international runners, we’ve seen them all and they come back for more. Running clubs, coaching groups congregate at the parkrun often for their parkrun time trials.
However, our most notable “parkrunners” would be our horse first finishers who, admittedly, did start early. Therefore, we could not count them as parkrunners.
What success stories can your parkrunners share? We have quite a few success stories, and a lot of special moments for all the parkrunners. Every milestone is a celebration at the Voortrekker Monument parkrun.
But when we think of the special success stories, we have to mention our young volunteer, Jocelyn Greer, who showed up to cheer on her brother during parkrun and started volunteering as photographer on a weekly basis. At the age of 14, she is brilliantly talented at getting the best shots as our runners pass her at top speed on the hill or capturing the emotion of the runners going up the flat uphill. Her showing up to cheer on her brother resulted in Jocelyn become a part of the volunteer family and now our runners are excited to see her photos each week.
Our 2nd success story is, Cheryl van der Merwe. To her, parkrun is just showing up at parkrun and walking – but to others she is a true inspiration. She has completed 108 parkruns of which 38 were at the Voortrekker Monument parkrun. Our tailwalkers had to encourage and cheer Cheryl up the flat uphill and beyond, and today – she is faster and encourages those around her to never give up on the hills.
What are the facilities like? As the venue is the Voortrekker Monument heritage site – the parkrunners can use the picnic facilities or the braai facilities around the finish area – but if they want to visit the monument, they have to pay the entrance fees. There is an awesome deli where the parkrunners can buy post run coffee and light meals.
What is the one thing a first timer to your parkrun should know? For the summer – bring lots of water as the flat uphill and heat can be overwhelming and dehydrate the runners. Our flat uphill isn’t as bad as the rumors make it out to be. Our parkrun is FUN and the volunteers is making it even more special – we not weird – we are just a lot of FUN!
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