Going The Distance Parkrun waiting in the wings
World Athletics, the relatively new name of the sport’s controlling body, has recognised the value that parkrun brings to communities around the globe, with a potential for further huge growth.
This realisation has resulted in World Athletics forging a partnership with parkrun Global Ltd, in the pursuit of improving fitness standards and to grow the sport.
The various lockdowns around the globe resulted in the parkrun being halted internationally in late March.
Since then, only New Zealand, which reopened on July 4, is now operational.
Communication from parkrun headquarters has been open and transparent and anxious parkrunners can possibly expect a definitive road map to the re-establishment of parkrun models when the time is right.
No time lines are likely to be announced, with each country at different stages of handling the situation.
SA is the second largest country, behind the UK, in respect of individual parkrun registrations, with Australia second in terms of the number of different parkrun events.
More than 1.2 million South Africans sign up for the weekly 5km events, and given that we are moving ever closer to spring, it seems sure that whenever parkrun reignites, there will be huge interest, as even in lockdown new registrations have been forthcoming.
Venues within the sphere of Buffalo City influence have more than 32,000 members, while the Eastern Cape as a whole has 80,000 parkrunners.
While most are itching to get back to their weekly parkrun fix, be it as a runner, walker or volunteer, the leadership is assisting at least four new parkruns prepare to launch. Three, possibly four will be in the Border/Kei region, and one in Nelson Mandela Bay.
The original target of 30 Eastern Capebased parkruns by the end of 2020 is thus still possible, despite the long layoff we have experienced.
Equally exciting in respect of future growth is an initiative of the Institute of Environment and Recreation Management, which seeks to assist in the utilisation of open spaces under the auspices of municipalities.
They have a webinar planned for later in August and parkrun looks set to deliver a presentation.
Meanwhile, the virtual parkruns held every week are gaining momentum.
Not everyone “gets it” and that is a shame, but by last week more than 51,000 runners had — incredibly, 3,000 of them had never run a parkrun before.
And so as we move towards a new beginning, we will not regain what has been lost
— the 16 parkruns as of today — but we will be stronger in our resolve to deliver for every member of every community we can reach out to and know that parkrun reinvents lives, people, hope and friendships across any barrier, real or imagined.
We will see each other soon, be it on the paths, in the mountains, across golf courses, lush bush or on beautiful beaches.
For inspiration and a handle on the whole Covid situation in respect of balance, I would suggest reading the thoughts of Nick Hudson from PANDA, Ivor Cummings @FatEmperor, Michael Levitt and Tim Noakes, all readily available on Twitter.
You do not have to follow them, but we should all be exposed to scientific views and not just those of the politicians of the world.