The parkrun is a simple free 5km timed run every Saturday run by volunteers. It started in the UK back in 2004 but has spread to many other countries including our very own South Africa. As its name implies the run is done in a park and in South Africa we currently have 10 events (http://www.parkrun.co.za/events/).
I’ve been going to Delta and Roodepoort (Florida) for a while whenever I have an open Saturday.
What’s great about the parkrun is that it caters for everyone. I’ve seen the following people do this race; really fit guys trying to work on their speed and win, kids getting into running, average blokes keeping fit, old and young walkers (mostly at Delta), people walking or running their dogs, people going to a different parkrun each week and of course the brilliant volunteers.
How do they time you at each event? Well first you need to sign up on the website at http://www.parkrun.co.za/register/ and they will send you an email with barcodes to print out. Cut a few of them out, laminate and store them everywhere. I have a spare barcode attached to my phone because I always forget to bring one with me. The volunteers scan your barcode in at the end of the run to record your time. Later in the day you’ll get an email with the time you did.
This week I attended the Roodepoort run as I heard there was some cycle event happening at Delta. It was a little wet and miserable, so I didn’t expect too many people. However I have seen Roodepoort pretty packed with many people. I’ve been to more Delta runs and the attendance here is also pretty big most of the time. Roodepoort is a two lap course which is fairly flat with single track and over grass running. Delta is a single lap course and has a note worthy hill with mostly single track carved out by bicycles. One thing to note about Delta, this park is very popular with bicycles and dog walkers so you may have to dodge a bicycle every now and again. Roodepoort has facebook page with photos which is quite cool (https://www.facebook.com/Roodepoortparkrun).
Running in these parks are actually much harder than running on the road. Sand and grass make your legs have to work harder to get you moving so don’t expect you best road time for the 5km. Another cool thing about the parkrun is that it starts at 8:00 in the summer and 9:00 in the winter. So you don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn for your running fix. If your keen to start keeping fit and not into doing marathons, I recommend joining this community for Saturday runs.
Have a look at the route maps to get a feel for the two courses.
Delta parkrun GPX File
Roodepoort parkrun GPX File