On the eve of the 120th running of Richmond Olympic parkrun, Run Director Jenna Bradley was holding her nerve, keeping to herself that the odds of having to cancel for a second straight week were approaching 50%. That dangerous “wintry mix” of snow, rain, and overnight freeze seemed inevitable. Too bad for me, as my ticket from Washington, DC had been purchased weeks in advance, betting that the likelihood of a weather-related cancellation would be much lower in the West Coast than elsewhere in Canada. But the Weather Fairy was kind to Richmond and blew the worst across the border to Seattle (where Renton parkrun sadly had to cancel). Richmond Olympic was on!
Sixty-nine parkrunners walked and ran on February 23rd, including nine first-timers, members of six different running clubs and 11 forgetful or still-unregistered parkrunners without barcodes (don’t forget your barcode – #DFYB!). If running is your thing, that coldish, drizzly, grey weather was close to as good as it gets: 13 parkrunners reached new personal bests, including Mami Kubo on her 47th run at Richmond – those PBs get harder and harder, and must be savoured when achieved! Among the overseas and cross-boarder visitors, a few had attended Richmond Olympic previously. Two of us, Darren Kikuta and myself, were true first-time tourists.
The speedy ones: Daniel Lewis was the first male finisher, completing the course in 19:09. First-timer Shauna Biddulph finished in 20:42. Plenty of walkers, too: Denise Thompson, Tail Walker (complete with actual tail!) wrapped up the scenic out-and-back-and-extra-bits course in 1:02:07.
Sarah Arnold, Kathleen Biberdorf, Jenna Bradley, Ed Graham, Tahlisa Hollier, Richard Lee, Daniel Lewis, Becky Maybury, Denise Thompson and yours truly volunteered on this occasion. Do consider joining the fun in the following weeks. Volunteering takes your parkrun experience to another level!
Post-run breakfast at “Timmies” proved popular: it seemed like parkrun took half the place! As a foreigner expecting little more than doughnuts, the chilli bowl did not disappoint!
Over coffee, in my chat with Euan Bowman, aka parkrun Canada manager, we pondered whether there could be a silver bullet to making an individual parkrun a success. A fast, flat, accessible and pretty course? Tick. A world-class city with a vibrant running community? Tick. A healthy mix of fast athletic types, joggers and walkers? Expats and international visitors in the right numbers to create a buzz, without drowning out the local feel? A diverse and engaged parkrun community? Tick. Tick. Tick! A great team running the show? You bet! In truth, there may not be a single silver bullet for a successful parkrun but, just in case, Richmond Olympic has them all!
I truly enjoyed the opportunity to visit, run, meet the team, and help Richmond Olympic parkrun in a small way. With the submission of this run report, I complete my 100th volunteer occasion at parkruns, mostly carried out at Fletcher’s Cove, in Washington, DC, where I am an Event Director. DC is a thriving parkrun hub in the US, currently hosting five parkruns in our metropolitan area. While the main focus of parkrun will always be the local communities each event supports, there is something unique to experiencing the global parkrun village we’ve become part of. I look forward to hosting you at my home event, just as you will be welcome anywhere, any Saturday, barcode in hand! #DFYB!
Andres Falconer, A110656