Parkrun: Fordyce happy with turn-out

2013-08-01 00:00

AFTER a very successful hosting of Pietermaritzburg’s first parkrun, the organisers, stars of the Comrades Shaun Meiklejohn and Kerry Koen, are confident the weekly event will go from strength to strength.

Pietermaritzburg’s first park- run, held on Saturday, was the 19th to open in the country and was attended by the man behind the concept in South Africa, Comrades king Bruce Fordyce.

He declared himself “very happy” with the turn-out and said the number of people who have registered to be a part of parkrun around the country has reached 20 000, and that number is growing by 750 to 1 000 people a week.

“This is fantastic for Pietermaritzburg,” Fordyce declared.

Natal Canoe Club (NCC) is the starting and finishing point for parkrun.

“For me, it’s nostalgic, because I’ve started 10 Dusis here. So it’s a different feeling to be at Camps Drift and not have a boat on my shoulder,” he said.

“I think it’s a concept that will take off nicely,” said NCC general manager Brett Austen Smith after he had completed the five-kilometre distance.

NCC’s expanded and refurbished clubhouse recently had its official opening, and Smith said the timing was good.

“The great thing about it is we are introducing a whole new sector to the club, so maybe we’ll get a bit of a crossover to canoeing one day.”

By last weekend’s first parkrun, 180 people had registered to be part of it. Assessing the course, Meiklejohn described it as “safe, flat and fast”.

“It was fun. It was very similar to what we run for training,” said three-time Dusi Canoe Marathon champion Andy Birkett. “I think it’s a nice concept. I’d like to find more to do.”

With the parkrun that’s very easy, as all participants need to do is register online. They will then receive a barcode that will enable them to participate in any parkrun anywhere in the world. The race is free and runners’ times are posted online.

While some runners went out hard, others took it easy, including walking with dogs and prams.

“That’s what it’s about,” said Fordyce. “It is not a race.”

Having heard that people with dogs and prams had taken part, Tarryn Saville said she would definitely be part of the next parkrun. Her friend, Rhonda White, said she used the parkrun to help with her training for the Mandela Marathon, to be held in Pietermaritzburg on August 25.

The parkrun is open to all people and takes place every Saturday at 8 am, starting and finishing at NCC at Camps Drift. For directions, visit

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