Lochaber clubs to­gether to launch new Parkrun

The Oban Times - - NEWS -

A LOCHABER club is en­cour­ag­ing oth­ers to help bring an event to the area which could help boost men­tal and phys­i­cal well­be­ing, writes Monica Gib­son.

He­len Smith has started a crowd­fund­ing page to launch Parkrun at Leanachan For­rest near Nevis Range in Fort Wil­liam. Parkrun or­gan­ises free, weekly 5km timed runs around the world.

Ms Smith is the chair­per­son of Lochaber Ath­let­ics Club (LAC), which spends a lot of time pro­mot­ing grass­roots ath­let­ics, help­ing with school pro­grammes and or­gan­is­ing a Jog Scot­land group. LAC, to­gether with newly-formed Fort Wil­liam Parkrun, is fundrais­ing to get the project ‘up and run­ning’ and to help out with events there­after. Ms Smith told the Lochaber

Times: ‘Orig­i­nally, we were try­ing to raise £4,500 to cover the cost of a de­fib­ril­la­tor that Parkrun says we must have, but a lo­cal busi­ness has kindly agreed to give us that, so now we are hop­ing to raise £ 3,300 for op­er­a­tional costs – to get us into the Parkrun in­fra­struc­ture, timers, and all set up with the cen­tral data­base.

‘It re­ally is a great set-up. Ini­tially, you reg­is­ter online and are given a bar­code. Then you just turn up and run – there is no faffing.’

Ms Smith con­tin­ued: ‘Whether or not people have run at all be­fore, want to lose weight or test them­selves, Parkruns are a great idea.

‘Ob­vi­ously people can just go and run out­side when­ever they want but for those who don’t al­ready run, tack­ling one of the trails can be a daunt­ing thought. With the Parkruns, there are mar­shalls and it is very se­cure.

‘Cur­rently the near­est Parkrun is in Oban. We travel down there and around a third of the people there are not from the lo­cal area. These people have de­cided to get up and go out for a run per­haps or people ac­tu­ally travel for the event, stay over and use the lo­cal ameni­ties. We could have that too.’

Ms Smith, a former po­lice of­fi­cer, went on to say that run­ning is ‘her thing’, that run­ning in Lochaber pro­vides a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity for men­tal and phys­i­cal health, and the dis­ci­pline has helped her bat­tle through some tough times.

She said: ‘I par­tic­u­larly love Lean­nachan Forest. I just want people to en­joy what I en­joy.’

The mum of two ex­plained that she got into run­ning in 2011, adding: ‘At that time I couldn’t run a bath, let alone any sort of dis­tance.

‘I lost my el­dest daugh­ter at birth and I wanted to mark her 16th birth­day. I started run­ning and I ran four marathons and an ul­tra-marathon that year. I had to re­tire early through in­jury.’

Ms Smith has re­cently be­come a coach in run­ning dis­tance and holds ‘tech ses­sions’ which en­cour­age run­ners to have bet­ter pos­ture and pro­vides var­i­ous dif­fer­ent tips to mim­imise im­pact on the body and re­duce in­juries. She be­lieves the fact that people can par­tic­i­pate in Parkrun for free is lead­ing them to do­nate to the crowd­fund­ing page.

She said: ‘People have been very gen­er­ous so far. We have also had a good re­sponse from lo­cal busi­nesses which say they will do­nate but just need to de­cide how much. Nevis Range has said we can also use its car park, which is great.

‘Events like these are re­ally so­cia­ble and are a great way to get people out the house and feel­ing bet­ter in them­selves.’

Iain Adams, Jon Gay and He­len Smith aim to set up a Parkrun in Lochaber.

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