Popular 5km event may be coming to town soon says Norris
PORT Alfred may soon join the ranks of other towns and cities throughout the Eastern Cape which have become part of the phenomenon of parkrun in South Africa since 2012. The man behind parkrun in the Eastern Cape, event director Bob Norris, said this week the Hogsback parkrun had just been launched with Mdantsane and Komani (previously Queenstown) up next.
“Others on the drawing board include Kenton, Port Alfred, Mthatha and Uitenhage,” Norris said. The province is currently home to 11 parkruns, a timed 5km event which always starts at 8am every Saturday.
The concept originated in the United Kingdom and made its first appearance in South Africa in November 2011 when former Comrades veteran and legend Bruce Fordyce started the Delta Park parkrun (Johannesburg) with just 26 participants.
Today, there are over 380 000 registered parkrunners in South Africa including more than 35000 in the Eastern Cape. It is the largest sporting movement in the world and the popularity thereof is ascribed to the fact that the event is free, family-friendly, non-intimidating, healthy and motivating.
There is no pressure on participants, who can choose to either run or walk. Fordyce officiates at each launch and with an expected 100 parkruns to be active by the end of the year – and calls from other parts of South Africa for the introduction thereof in their areas – he is kept busy overseeing the growth of the event.
“The heroes of parkrun are the volunteers and nowhere have we had problems finding people to lend a hand. For many it is a weekly social and they meet, interact, perhaps have a coffee. It is a lot of work, but the load is shared with different teams most weeks. There are some volunteers in the Eastern Cape that have done so on 150 plus occasions,” Norris said.
“Fordyce and I have been friends since the early ’80s and it was not long after he had got back from the UK having seen what parkrun was doing for communities there that he phoned to say he was starting Delta and wanted me to take on the EC. I had no idea what parkrun was and having retired from running races, clubs, the province and national road running had no appetite to find out.”
In February 2012, Fordyce visited East London and in August the Nahoon Point Nature Reserve parkrun was launched with 81 people.
“There is a group that call themselves ‘parkrun tourists’ and they visit every parkrun they can and are invariably at new launches. Families have been known to change holiday plans based on where there is a parkrun available,” Norris said. And while the event prides itself on being held at 8am every Saturday, exceptions may be made if there is a clash with an older established event at the same venue or due to dangerous conditions, for example lightning.
Contact Norris on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 082-554-4016 for more information on how to become involved in parkrun.