Lochaber clubs together to launch new Parkrun
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.