Just do it anyway!


Welcome to this week's parkrun Canada newsletter.

I am privileged to be the Event Director of the new parkrun in Calgary at Nose Hill Park and thought I would share some memories of my earlier parkrun days in the UK with you all. I started off by running in my local event in Southampton, trying to beat my personal best and reach my 50 and then 100 T shirt clubs which took over three years. I also realised the benefits of volunteering and on reflection, I wish I had done this more often, as you really get to feel part of this altruistic team of lovely people. The runners appreciate you so much and even when out of breath they manage to say “thank you marshal!” on their way round.

One Saturday morning I was a timekeeper and just after the runners set off I saw a woman walking towards us across the field, dressed in jeans and a T shirt. As she got closer I could see tears streaming down her face and she was crying. I asked her what was wrong and she exclaimed, through the sobs, that she had wanted to do parkrun but was late and didn't know where to go because she had never done it before.

The Run Director told her not to worry but as they had only just started she should catch them up. As we called over to the tail runner to hang on for her I told her to be quick and get changed. I naively thought she must have some running shorts or leggings under those blue jeans. This made her wail even more, “I don't have any running clothes!” she cried. I was completely taken aback and paused for a second before answering. “Well, that doesn't matter….just do it anyway!” 

With that, the tail runner, a wonderfully friendly and talkative Italian guy, called Aurelio, (even his name sounds like an angel’s) came back to collect our tearful first timer and off they went……

I thought of the famous strapline for a well known sports brand - “just do it” and it’s ironic that you actually don't need such expensive gear or anything in fact to complete a parkrun….except the motivation.

I cannot tell you more details of our tearful first timer in her jeans but I did see her again and her pace got quicker as she got fitter. The UK is full of stories of those that have changed their lives by making parkrun a weekly event. I am sure it will take off in Canada and become as popular as it is in the UK and remember you don't need anything to take part but the motivation to just do it.

Suzanne Brooks
Nose Hill parkrun Event Director


parkrun is a joy


Welcome to this week's parkrun Canada newsletter. I'm going to explain why it is such a joy to take part and volunteer at parkrun!  

People volunteer for a wide variety of reasons, and particularly to help others. But it's also okay to want some benefit yourself from volunteering.

Some people are uncomfortable with the notion that a volunteer "benefits" from doing volunteer work. There is a long tradition of seeing volunteering as a form of charity, based on altruism and selflessness. The best volunteering does involve the desire to serve others, but this does not exclude other motivations too. 

Instead of thinking about volunteering as doing something in exchange for what you require to help make your day, consider that most people find themselves in need at some point in their lives.

So, today you may be the person with the ability to help, but tomorrow you may be the recipient of someone else's volunteer effort. Let me explain more..

parkrun volunteering motivations

Motives for volunteering at parkrun may include any of the following:

- To feel needed
- To share a skill
- To get to know about parkrun
- To gain leadership skills - in particular if you are a student, parkrun will give you a chance to grow leadership and organisational skills.

You may feel it is to do your civic duty or because of pressure from a friend or relative. Helping at parkrun may give you satisfaction from watching others accomplish a goal, or to give you an excuse to help at what you love while you are unable to participate due to injury.

I can guarantee that if you choose to volunteer at parkrun you will feel good, be part of a team, you will test yourself as you take on a bigger role like Run Director (RD). You will absolutely build your resume, be an agent of change, and affect people’s lives in a great way, and in ways this writer can’t explain.

You will probably have some special reasons of your own. Once you're on the volunteer job at parkrun it doesn’t matter if you’re a Marshal or a Tail Runner (sweeper in Canada) or the RD, you will continue to serve as long as you feel that your efforts are accomplishing something, that your talents are appreciated, and that you make a difference. And if you also like the people with whom you work, so much the better!

You will find that your parkrun becomes a family, and I look forward to seeing my family every Saturday. I am interested in hearing the stories of the week and the goals you, my family, has set for the day's run or the month's journey.

I had a friend Therese (Chelmsford, UK parkrunner, RD, sweeper, pace bunny etc.) who said to me "Bill, you have to get parkrun going in Canada!" I said "What’s a parkrun? Just another 5k?"  

Well it’s anything but just another 5k! It is so much more, it’s motivating, it’s exciting, it’s free, it's mind-blowing, earth-shaking, love and caring in the deepest sense. If you choose to become a parkrun volunteer or participant (or both) you will find an inclusive group of people that are truly a joy to be a part of.

On a personal note, I was asked to write this for my friend Euan, the parkrun Country Manager here in Canada. He gives his time and effort to parkrun Canada, and I was proud to Volunteer to write this for him whilst he was in Germany running the Berlin Marathon.

I am floored by the amazing people I have met along my journey of life, and the people I have and continue to meet due to parkrun are exceptional “humans doing” NOT just human beings. Thanks for being a human doing Euan!

Happy parkrunning, 

Bill J

Event Director,
Okanagan parkrun


a parkrun day is longer than you think


parkruns start anytime from 7am to 9:30am local time. With over 950 locations in 14 different countries, the wave of parkrun events across the globe makes for a fun story. From our perspective in Canada, let’s see how the day pans out.. 

Friday 1pm Pacific, 2pm Mountain Time parkrun day starts! We are over in New Zealand where it is 8am Saturday local time. These 15 events are among the first to start and get the ball rolling. Most NZ events start at 8am, but not all follow suit and some start an hour later, like our current Canadian events at 9am local time.

Friday 2pm Pacific, 3pm Mountain Time We see the first of the Australian events start, including many on the Gold Coast, the site of the first Australian parkruns. Many of these runs start at 7am, and while individual parkruns have their own reasons for differing start times, the earlier start time is largely to avoid the heat.

Friday 4:30pm Pacific, 5:30pm Mountain Time Our parkrun in Singapore is off! A real parkrun tourist’s treat if you are in town.

Friday 6pm Pacific, 7pm Mountain Time Australia’s 185 have all but started, and the last ones on the West coast get going. 

Friday 9pm -11pm Pacific, 10pm - 12am Mountain Time It’s time for Russia! The most easterly Russian parkrun is Chelyabinsk parkrun, followed by the country’s 22 other events. 

Saturday 12am – 1:30am Pacific, 1am – 2:30am Mountain Time
It’s parkrun prime time! All 400+ UK events are off, France begins, Poland’s 39 start, Sweden join in, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, and we haven’t even talked about parkrun powerhouse South Africa! It’s truly a busy time for parkrun, who see tens of thousands of results being processed through a results system that has taken almost 12 years to refine.

Saturday 4:30am – 6am Pacific, 5:30am – 7am Mountain Time There is a time for rest as parkrun crosses the Atlantic. In the early hours of the morning for some of us, those in Florida are treated to North America’s first parkrun of the day, followed by the remainder in the USA (except Crissy Fields), at 6am.

Saturday 8am Pacific, 9am Mountain Time We got there! Canada joins in the fun on parkrun day with Nose Hill.

Saturday 9am Pacific, 10am Mountain Time Okanagan parkrun and Crissy Field round off parkrun day. These two parkrun’s get to battle who is gets the last parkrunner in the World for that week. What an honour that is!! 

What a long day it has been, with parkruns starting 20 hours apart. To think well over 140,000 runs are delivered for free like this every week is incredible. When I went to Okanagan and Nose Hill for their launches, it reminded me how simple and transportable the concept is. All that is needed is a 5k course and a great team. There are plenty of different languages but the language of parkrun of being fun, friendly, and free is consistent throughout.

Happy parkrunning,

Euan Bowman
parkrun Canada Country Manager


other park users

We are privileged to be allowed to stage parkruns on public land and we grateful for the permission to let us do that. We do share use of the land with other park users and 99% of events go without any problem. Occasionally though, conflicts do happen, but we try to minimise these as much as possible so that we are welcome to use the park again next week.

Remember to be polite and courteous to fellow park users and to give way. parkrun is a run and not a race, so there is always next week if you are looking to push yourself for that PB.

Some of our runs go through areas that are popular for dog walkers, or off-leash areas. Runners and dogs will always come into contact, parkrun or no parkrun, but if you come across an aggressive dog on your run remember to stand your ground and stay calm. An aggressive dog wants you to react and stress but if you remain calm and in control, they lose interest and wander off.

We love that parkruns can co-exist with other park users, be it walkers, dogs, and cyclists. New parkruns can take time to ‘settle in’ to their surroundings, but they soon do with all park users being respectful and aware of each other.

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


early days but many, many more to come


It’s still very much the beginning for parkrun in Canada, but we have already made fantastic friends and heard some amazing stories.

Both Okanagan and Nose Hill parkruns continue to settle into their new surroundings. Okanagan saw their first new Run Director, Jen, taking charge as Bill takes a well deserved week off, and Nose Hill tweaked their finish area to make it easier to finish.  

Being based in Vancouver, both Nose Hill and Okanagan are a little too far for a Saturday morning commute for me, so this week was a rare parkrun-free day. This was one of the main reasons why I started a parkrun back in England all those years ago, and again it is a very good motivator to bring one closer to home! Without giving too much away, the signs are looking good that my fellow Vancouver-ites won’t have too much longer to wait to get their parkrun fix. 

And that’s the beauty of it, we aim to provide a parkrun to every community that wants one, and that means a parkrun to commutable distance to as many Canadians as possible. Whether it’s every week, month, six months or infrequently whenever, parkrun will always be there whenever you are ready to come down.

Happy parkrunning,

Euan Bowman
parkrun Canada Country Manager


timeline of a typical parkrun

We are seeking individuals and teams to come forward and work with us to bring a parkrun to their community. Many questions come up when considering a new event, such as queries about how to recruit volunteers and what makes a good course. Last week we discussed the course, so this week we’ll discuss the operations of a typical Saturday morning from the perspective of a Run Director.

The preparation for an event actually starts weeks in advance, when the Event or Run Director puts out a call for volunteers. Depending on the size of the event, volunteer requirements can change but for smaller events at least seven volunteers are required. It gives the Run Director that warm fuzzy feeling when he or she sees a full volunteer roster on their event website!

Friday evening, many Run Directors do a check that all equipment is ready for the morning. That includes charging the barcode scanners, checking and replacing lost tokens, and clearing the timers of last week’s results. Many leave it until the day, however that can leave to some stressful Saturday mornings (I have been guilty of this a few times)!

Around 8am the volunteer team arrives on site and go out to mark the course. 5k is surprisingly a long way - even on a bicycle, so this can take time. Marshals should ideally be in place for 8:50am or so, and that is around the time the Run Director calls for the runners briefing. I’m hoping most of you are familiar with the briefing by now, but it is to highlight safety, ask that you don’t leave with your finish token (please don’t leave without returning your finish token!) and thank the sponsors and any other announcements.

9am, the start! For the Run Director this can be a quiet time, and the action is on the course with the Marshals busy. Shortly after 9:15am the first finishers come through and the finish line soon becomes a busy place. This carries on until the Tail Runner comes in, and then the close down procedure begins. Some parkruns have procedures in place where some equipment has been brought back already.

There is then the post-run coffee where volunteers and runners discuss stories and run tales. The Results Processor sometimes processes the results here, which is a good place because if there are any problems then there are plenty of people who can help out. Results are then e-mailed out to participants and the equipment passed over to the next Run Director to do it all again next week…

Talking of which, have a great parkrun and see you next week.

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


parkrun launches in Alberta


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


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!


parkrun is for everybody


parkrun is for everybody

We are into the second week of parkrun Canada and another great event took place at Okanagan parkrun. This Saturday is again special as we introduce our second Canadian event, Nose Hill parkrun in Calgary.

Bill and his team at Okanagan prove that they are unstoppable at providing great events and their Facebook page is buzzing with activity and photos from Saturday's event. 

The parkrun vision is to provide a truly accessible, free, family friendly event that caters to all abilities. If you have signed up to parkrun and are unsure about it, or know someone that may be interested, rest assured that the emphasis is very much on participation and having fun.

All abilities are welcome and you needn’t have completed a marathon, triathlon, or any sports at school to take part! The 5k distance can be run or walked and the volunteers will be there to support you until you get to the finish line. If you are really unsure, then I invite you to go down to Okanagan or Nose Hill parkrun (you don’t need to tell anybody you’re there) and just check it out, see if it’s for you and then attend the next week if you like.

We are very lucky to be able to start our Canadian journey with two parkruns virtually from the start. I’d like to introduce Suzanne Brooks, once a regular at Netley Abbey, who emigrated to Calgary with her family and wanted to bring the parkrun ethos and spirit to her community. 

Suzanne has been spearheading the parkrun effort in Calgary and this week we launch with Nose Hill parkrun. To cite from Wikipedia, Nose Hill is the second largest urban park in Canada and is regarded as a retreat from the city and a place to enjoy nature. Perfect then for a parkrun!


what are parkrun’s future plans, anyhow?

As we are introducing a second parkrun this weekend, it may be a good time to talk about what our vision is for the future in Canada. At parkrun we are committed to providing the support and services to any community that would like to have its own event, and we have seen that there is a huge appetite for parkrun in Canada.

Not a week goes by without two or three enquiries about starting a new parkrun. No area is too small or big to have a parkrun. The largest parkrun (Bushy parkrun, London, UK) sees over 1,000 runners weekly, whereas the vast majority are much, much smaller. There is even a parkrun in Bere Island in Ireland, where they have a population of only 250! 

While we can hold parkruns with huge attendances, we are much more invested in delivering smaller parkruns in commutable distance to as many Canadians as possible. We are looking to establish our presence in the cities, but at the same time we will be reaching out to smaller, more remote communities to see if we can work with them to bring and support a parkrun in their area.

It has been proven in our 12 year history across 14 countries that a parkrun brings numerous benefits to the local community – the population becomes happier and healthier, and we think that’s something we would all like.

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


hello, we’re parkrun, and we’re in Canada!


hello, we’re parkrun, and we’re in Canada!


In this first newsletter we tell you the story of parkrun Canada, recap our first event, and explain how you can get involved.

Welcome to the very first parkrun Canada newsletter. I have been waiting a very long time to say that! We have been working to bring parkrun to Canada for a some time and to see it launch on Saturday with Okanagan parkrun in Kelowna was absolutely amazing. 

I’d like to start with the story of how parkrun Canada came about. Back in 2007 I attended my first parkrun (Wimbledon Common parkrun, then known as Wimbledon Common Time Trial) in London, England. I was impressed with the simplicity of the event and how it was there every single week, along with this community that would blossom from it.

Being an hour commute from Wimbledon, I asked parkrun’s founder Paul-Sinton-Hewitt if he’d be interested in bringing it to my then home-town of Basingstoke. At the time there were only five or six events so the path to starting your parkrun was not quite as practiced and simple as it is now. Being his usual trusting and generous self, he gave me - this stranger to him - a laptop, an expensive timer, some finish position tokens and sent me on my way!

Three years later Basingstoke parkrun had grown from a run that saw roughly 20-30 people every week to one that was fielding more than 200. Since I left in 2012, the run has grown to almost 400 every week. This story of an event growing like this is not unique; it has been replicated several times over in parkruns around the world.

We have over 900 events in 13 countries, which will be increasing to 14 this weekend with the launch of parkrun in Sweden. We do very little advertising at parkrun, and the increase in participation is down mostly to word of mouth. It is a very simple, but powerful concept and it was only a matter of time before it came to Canada.

During the past four years since I left Basingstoke to live in Vancouver, parkrun HQ and I have had several conversations about how best to start it here in this country. Needless to say it was a long journey with a lot of hard work from a lot of people, but at the start of 2016 the planets started to align and it became apparent we had a good shot at for a summer launch.

To my great fortune I was contacted by Bill Justus who said he had everything he needed to start a parkrun event – a location, a team, the funds and the permits. Together with our core team in Canada with setting up the national infrastructure, we scheduled in August 20th as the big day.

On Saturday we were go! And what a day that was, one that I’ll never forget. The way that the local community in Kelowna embraced the concept and made it their own was fantastic. As with all parkruns, the running came second to the community. 

I learned about the local running scene from Richard Dueck, heard from Alison Rose about her triathlon adventures, and even got tips about the art of Pokémon catching from Davis Spencer. It was also really great to hear from Local MLA Steve Thompson and his family connection to Mission Creek Greenway.

The appetite for parkruns in Canada is enormous. We are having many discussions across the country about bringing parkrun to local communities, with the next event to launch being Nose Hill parkrun, Calgary on September 3rd.

We are committed to supporting a parkrun in every community that wants one. This is a very exciting time for parkrun and Canada, and we can’t wait to meet you all.

Please keep in touch with us through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Euan Bowman
parkrun Canada Country Manager


volunteering at parkrun

parkrun would not be possible without the help of our wonderful volunteers. It takes at least eight people to make a parkrun event happen each Saturday, and depending on the nature of the course it may require a few more. Giving your time to parkrun benefits the lives of others and can help you learn and develop skills, it’s a proven fact! 

A big thank you to our first Canadian Volunteers - Alison Rose, Bill Justus, Dean Mitchell, Jennifer Spencer, Lindsay McGale, Liz Borrett, Sylvia Thompson and Wendy Aigner. You are the first Canadian parkrun volunteers and that is something special! 

To keep the momentum going we ask that each parkrunner volunteers three times a year. It is the best way to contribute to parkrun, and we all really appreciate it. It really is super rewarding and worthwhile.

If you are in the Calgary area and are eagerly anticipating our next new parkrun, Nose Hill parkrun, then please consider volunteering especially in the first few runs while we look to establish ourselves. If you can give time, please reach out to nosehillhelpers@parkrun.com. We would love to hear from you!


Launch Evening, parkrun Canada

Come join us for a 5km run in Vancouver, BC this Wednesday. to celebrate the upcoming launch of parkrun in Canada. We will run along a potential future parkrun route along the False Creek Seawall!

Join Marathon Talk superstar and parkrun Chief Tom Williams and parkrun Canada Country Manager Euan Bowman as we run from one end of Cambie Bridge to the other around Science World. 6:30pm start at Hinge Park: (Google Map)

Afterwards we will go to Red Truck Brewery - 295 E 1st Ave: (Google Map), for your drink of choice and a full food menu. If you want to skip the run and go straight to Red Truck, we'll be there likely from 7:15pm.

Facebook users can RSVP here

See you there!


Announcing parkrun Canada

We are pleased to announce the launch of parkrun here in Canada. Okanagan parkrun is due to start 20th August, with Nose Hill parkrun closely behind two weeks later on 3rd September.

Go easy on us as we learn what all the buttons do, or don't do, or delete...and in the meantime we will provide you with some beautiful and amazing parkruns by our fantastic volunteers.

We are all super excited at what the future holds and we can't wait to meet you all.

Older Posts in Category ⇒
⇐ Newer Posts in Category