parkrun helped me feel at home in Guelph

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by Natalie Intven

I still sometimes feel like I’m "new to Guelph", even though I’ve lived in the city for over five years. I moved here from Toronto after I met my partner Kurt and I love Guelph now. I work from a home office, so I don't tend to see a lot of people in my day-to-day life. I have a few great friends locally and my cat is an excellent co-worker. Kurt and I have done a lot of training together on the Guelph trails and sidewalks in the past few years. The trails especially are my happy place.

Last January I showed up at the first parkrun organizing meeting not knowing anyone in the room. I’d heard about the idea through the Guelph Victors and knew parkrun was something I wanted to be part of.

It can be intimidating to join a new group, but my fears subsided when I realized how friendly everyone was, and that we were all there to work towards a shared goal. I joined the organizing committee, offering up my skills in photography, design, and social media marketing.

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Over several months, about 15 of us discussed course specifics, publicity, and many other logistics. We raised money, we contributed our ideas, time and effort, and together we brought parkrun to Guelph. It was exciting watching it come together and finally launch last June. Now that parkrun has been going for 13 weeks, I am enjoying the experience from both sides.

As a runner, as I was this week, I get to see the faces of all the other people on course — some quiet and determined, some cheerful and chatty, and some all-out gleeful and enthusiastically encouraging others.

As a volunteer, I get to be part of the awesome team that makes all of this possible. I cheer people on and celebrate the joy of our parkrun community each week through our photography and social media pages.

I was on a long run a few days ago and crossed paths with at least five different people that I’ve met through parkrun. I felt connected. I felt known. I felt "not so new to Guelph" anymore. And ... I felt sure that I am part of something great!

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P.S.: This week at parkrun, Kurt and I got to check out our portrait by Guelph's Artist in ResidenceMallory Tolcher (above), which is displayed on our parkrun route. It's one of 12 portraits in the #GuelphMovesMe outdoor art exhibition that Mallory created to promote physical fitness on Guelph's trail systems. The project ends with an artist talk and trail walk on September 29 during Culture Days weekend. Great work, Mallory!

— photos by Art Kilgour

Run summary, Event #13

  • 73 participants, with 16 people attending for the first time
  • parkrun veterans Don and Anne Eddie were joined by their daughter Margaret, visiting from Australia
  • Maxton Lambert, aged 10, ran his first 5K ever, along with his grandmother Mary Brown, 61, who's done our event three times
  • Pauline Woodall ran with her border collie Niki, an obsessive herder who's not happy unless she sees runners ahead of her
  • Jonathan Gascho, the Run Director at Victoria parkrun, Kitchener paid us a visit and placed second in 19:08
  • First finishers this week: Liam Stiles (17:38) and Deb Powell (21:27)
  • our slowest walker this week was a tiny turtle found in the grass near the finish line by first-timer Ben Gerson and returned to a safer home by the river

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