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A RECORD-BREAKING YEAR

by Bruce Fordcye
11 December 2017


It has been a wonderful year for parkrun in Southern Africa, and 2018 looks as if it will be even more exciting! parkrun South Africa CEO, Bruce Fordyce, shares some memories, record-breaking statistics, and sums up the 2017 parkrun year.
 
Unfortunately and happily, only very occasionally, parkrun Event Directors sometimes have to decide to cancel parkruns at the 11th hour. This happened at a couple of parkruns two weeks ago when severe and dangerous electrical storms forced the hands of our ED’s, and parkruns were cancelled as parkrunners were lining up and indeed, in one case actually running. Safety must always come first at parkrun. Rather like the captain of an aeroplane the ED is in command and if he or she deems conditions unsafe then they have the responsibility to call off any parkrun. No one enjoys cancelling a parkrun, especially on run morning but occasionally it has to be done. There were some objections from disappointed parkrunners at one of these parkruns, but I hope those who objected will understand that safety has to come first.
 
Legends at parkrun 
I was delighted to see that my old Comrades companion, Frith van der Merwe earned her 50-milestone shirt at Ebotse parkrun. Some parkrunners will be too young to remember Frith, but she was the dominant ladies Comrades marathon runner in the late 1980s and early 1990s. To most of us older runners Frith is quite simply the greatest ever Comrades ladies champion. She won the race 3 times and her 1989 down record time of 5:54 still stands unthreatened nearly 30 years later. Injuries blighted her career and she would and should have won more Comrades marathons but for these injury problems.

Frith is not the only Comrades champion to have graced the start of a South African parkrun and as Caroline Wöstmann, Charné Bosman, Shaun Mieklejohn (Shaun started Dusi parkrun) and Alan Robb have all run parkruns. Most recently 2017 champion Camille Herron from the USA attended a CMA function in Durban and ran North Beach parkrun the next morning.
 
It’s not often that we launch two parkruns on the same morning, but this Saturday we are welcoming Nottingham Road parkrun in KZN, and Port Alfred parkrun in the Eastern Cape, to the SA parkrun family. With the holidays upon us both of these new parkruns should anticipate enthusiastic crowds at their inaugural runs. So too should most of our coastal and holiday destination parkruns. If last year is anything to go by these parkruns will be busy.
 
Interesting stats 
As the year draws to a close it is interesting to look at some statistics for parkrun SA for 2017. Thanks to Jaco Van der Walt for the statistics. Jaco estimated numbers to the end of the year. This year we had 1,750,000 runs/walks compared to 1,300,000 last year (36 % increase). There were 160,000 volunteering stints this year compared to 92,000 last year (54% increase).

There were 225,000 new registrations this year compared to 200,000 last year and our total registrations will be about 735,000 by the end of December. We have opened 128 events to date, with 36 new events this year compared to 23 last year. We organised 5,400 events this year compared to 4,100 last year (36% increase).
 
Yes it has been a wonderful year for parkrun in Southern Africa, and 2018 looks as if it will be even more exciting. There are no adequate words of thanks but nevertheless I would like to thank everyone for their wonderful contributions and hard work. I hope everyone has a great holiday break and enjoys plenty of happy parkrunning. See you in 2018.
 
Cheers for now,
Bruce



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