Uncategorized - 29th July 2021

The parkrun family


I set off for Blandford parkrun with mixed feelings: so happy to be able to attend parkrun; so anxious it would be nothing like back home in South Africa. I’d run 53 parkruns before, 52 of those at my home parkrun in Grahamstown. I’ve been in the UK for a year and a half, but still think of Grahamstown (Makhanda) as home, and one of the things I deeply miss is my parkrun family. How would I feel in a group of strangers?


But I felt in high spirits when I arrived and, although the flag was slightly different and the volunteers wore pink, the familiar pre-run scenes started to appear before me: the youngster with his mom, the runners with dogs, the shout of “can you hear me at the back?” before the run director launched into a very familiar briefing. Different course, same run brief format; different faces, same friendly smiles.




And as I ran, all those strangers’ faces turned into familiar faces: there was Nicola starting us off; there was Wayne marshalling at his usual corner, there was Jobst / Pete taking photos, there was Jill encouraging us along the way, there were Thoko and Sylvester flying back up to the finish while I was still heading down the hill, there was John with his, “Well done, well done” at the half way point, there was Lynne and there was Stavie strong and steady showing up the youngsters, there was Sue with her Tailwalker vest, there was Harry handing out tokens, and there was Ros scanning our barcodes.


I might not know their real names yet, but I know their spirit: they are a parkrun family, warm, fun and encouraging. Sending heartfelt wishes that our SA parkrun families can get together again soon.


Clare Riley

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