parkrun launches in Alberta

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This week we recap the inaugural Nose Hill parkrun, the second parkrun event to join us in Canada, and we talk about what makes a great parkrun course.

Hot on the heels of Okanagan parkrun was Nose Hill parkrun, our second Canadian parkrun, and I travelled to see the launch of the event.

On arrival, and throughout the weekend I was the grateful recipient of the hospitality of Suzanne, Graeme and Kayla Brooks. Graeme had been working on the basement in his house and I learned I was the catalyst for the completion of the suite. Glad to be of service Graeme!  

Suzanne Brooks, the event director for Nose Hill parkrun, is a physiotherapist who knows the importance and value of regular exercise and the benefits it brings. Suzanne was once a member of Hedge End Running club in Southampton, England, and has now joined the Calgary Road Runners Club. Suzanne emigrated to Calgary with her family and wanted to bring the parkrun ethos and spirit to her community, so she has been spearheading the parkrun effort in Calgary.

Saturday morning arrived and despite a gloomy weather forecast, we were greeted with great sunshine and views. Very few parkruns in the world have the beautiful backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, and given that Nose Hill is elevated among its surroundings it has great scenery no matter which way you look.

The stories behind the people who attended this event was quite extraordinary. We heard from parkrun uber-tourist Roderick Hoffman who flew in from the UK especially for the event; Edward Williams who ‘just happened’ to be on holiday and in the area so wanted to join us and Cool-Choir lead Jamie Sefari and his experience of setting up his new life in Calgary.

Also New Zealand residents Nneka Okonta and Paul Gibbons, who were returning from a trip in Europe, stopped off in Calgary to do the parkrun and were also at the inaugural Swedish run too last week! 

To hear about runners skipping across continents in the space of a week to attend parkruns, and being welcomed in similar fashion reflects the welcoming nature of parkrun around the world.

Happy parkrunning,

Euan Bowman
parkrun Canada Country Manager


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What works well as a parkrun course?

We have many parkrun’s in the pipeline that we can’t wait to rollout over Canada! 

There are many aspects to consider starting a parkrun, and we will be covering some of these in our newsletters. You might have the perfect location nearby that you think may lend itself well to host parkrun, but just what are the criteria? 

Why 5k?

We get this question asked a lot.  It's a long enough distance to engage more serious runners as part of their training regime, whilst short enough that beginners and walkers can also take part without feeling intimidated.

In terms of organization, shorter runs leave you tight for time between the start and the first finisher, whereas longer runs require larger sites and more marshals. Five kilometres strikes the perfect balance!

Route Selection

Generally parkruns take place in a city park or open spaces, but we look at each route on a case by case basis. We take safety very seriously and look for routes that are inherently safe. Factors we look for are course capacity, run surface, open water proximity, path width, sharp turns, and if there is room for other park users. 

Also useful to note are access to local facilities, a post-run coffee, and transport accessibility. Sharing a route with traffic is a big no-no and any road runs must have closed roads to be considered.

How many laps?

Generally a maximum of three laps - from experience, these work well up to around 250-300 runners. Most parkrun events have course records around the 15 minute mark and final finishers that cross the line after about 55 minutes. Multi-lap courses can therefore lead to faster runners lapping walkers and slower runners, which can be both disheartening and confusing for volunteers and runners alike.

If you are interested in setting up your own event, or to find out more, get in touch with us here!