Parkrun fever grips coast

09 February 2018 | Sports

Otis Finck

The inaugural Walvis Bay parkrun launched by Comrades legend Bruce Fordyce was a huge success, with 338 runners and five clubs in action at the event on Saturday.

The participants produced an average run time of 00:44:23, and jointly ran a distance of 1 690 km. The female record holder is Natania du Plessis who completed the 5km distance in a time of 23:59. Peter Nakalele is the men’s record holder, finishing in 20:49.

Fordyce, the CEO of Parkrun South Africa, set an age-graded record in a time of 23:52.

Two parkrun phenomenon fanatics are Julie and Peter Fordham who flew in from the United Kingdom. Numerous South Africans also joined the Walvis Bay event, which coincided with 1 300 other similar events taking place at various venues worldwide.

The Fordham’s said they were impressed by the event and that the flamingos they observed along the route in the lagoon were a unique feature of the Walvis Bay parkrun.

Mayor Immanuel Wilfred who is an avid athlete (former bodybuilder) also participated. He encouraged the community to make use of the opportunity to get active and welcomed the promotion of a healthy lifestyle.

“Sport is a powerful tool for bridging social, economic and other gaps. The event also holds opportunities for our town, as people travel from all over the world just to run for fun. But apart from tourism, it is also a great time for the community to get active and healthy. We are privileged to have the legendary nine time Comrades athlete, Bruce Fordyce, in our midst.”

Fordyce, who has more than 250 parkruns (including 16 overseas events) under his running shoes, said the sport was highly addictive and growing rapidly. He said it a shame that Windhoek had no parkrun yet but hoped the city would get one soon.

“This is a movement. The beauty of it all is that we are getting community members together. It’s more than the exercise; the 52 events a year can also produce economic spin-offs. It works all over and you can participate anywhere once you’re registered.”

The Namibian parkruns in Swakopmund and Walvis Bay are currently hosted under the auspices of Parkrun South Africa where the concept has exploded. There are over 750 000 members in Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland with 5 000 joining every week. At any given time there are 60 000 persons running and walking at 130 venues on a Saturday morning in Southern Africa.

The parkrun concept was begun 13 years ago in London by Paul Hewitt from Potchefstroom. Only 13 people attended the first event in Bushy Park.

Today there are more than 4 million parkrun enthusiasts throughout the world, with more than 1 300 venues solely driven by volunteers on a Saturday morning.

According to Fordyce the magical ingredients of an event are that it is always over a distance of 5km, free of charge and takes place on a Saturday. The only requirement is that participants need to register and obtain a barcode. This enables participants to obtain their times and keep track of their personal performances. Those who participate consistently are rewarded with certificates and t-shirts.

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