This week on the Smile Good News Network, I want to highlight an activity which started in Cape Town a few years back and is now as much part of the Cape Town culture, as the Cycle Tour or the Two Oceans marathon. I am talking about Parkrun.
If for some reason you have not heard of them before, parkrun organise free, weekly, 5km timed runs around the world. They are open to everyone, free, and are safe and easy to take part in.
These events take place in pleasant parkland surroundings and encourage people of every ability to take part; from walkers or those taking their first steps in running to more experienced runners.
To find beautiful venues in Cape Town is easy and one of the things I have found to be fun as a walking parkrunner is to move venues and see all that Cape Town has to offer.
Currently, from what I could see on their website, there are 14 parkruns in greater Cape Town, including Big Bay, Century City, Constantia Green Belt, Durbanville, Fish Hoek, Greenpoint, Hout Bay, Rondebosch Common and more…
So, how did parkrun come about?
It started on 2 October 2004, when 18 people gathered in Bushy Park, London, to run or volunteer at the very first parkrun.
For Paul Sinton-Hewitt, whose idea it was to gather his friends in the park, it was never about the ‘run’. Having lost his job, endured a relationship breakdown and suffered an injury that prevented him from running with his mates, he felt socially disconnected and isolated.
Paul believed that parkrun would create an environment that would make him more positive, confident, re-connected to nature and, in the simplest terms, healthier and happier. And it did. What Paul could never have imagined though was the impact that free, outdoor, socially-focussed community events would have in making millions of other people healthier and happier too.
Over the past 14 years, this winning formula has been embraced by 1700 communities around the globe, proving beyond doubt that parkrun has a significant role to play in promoting health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities.
Parkrun is so much more than just the run. It gets you out, gets you moving, helps to make you healthier and generally makes you feel a whole lot better.
It’s a wonderful way to spend time outdoors with friends and strangers who become friends. Completing a parkrun gives you a sense of achievement and boosts your confidence – even if you, like me, are near the end of the pack.
I love parkrun and even the idea of parkrun. Long may it be a part of Cape Town’s great outdoors.